(This article a very typical newsletter, full of diet cliches, ineffective “tips,” and assumptions. The newsletter writing is in black. Mine is italicized and maroon and enclosed in parentheses.)
Many of us have moved beyond fad diets and prefer instead to focus on doing small, impactful things every day to be healthier. If that’s more your speed than strict diets and rigorous routines, consider these simple tips thatcreate surprising results! (No they do not. This is standard diet speak that has been said for decades. But this “small impactful things,” destroy a normal, body aware relationship with food and eating. These tips don’t help, and in fact, are harmful.)
Tip #1: Start with breakfast.
Don’t make your body wait until lunch – several hours after you rise – for fuel. (Right, why would you wait until you are hungry, stuff it down!!) Breakfast kickstarts your metabolism by replenishing glucose (blood sugar), glycogen (carbohydrate store used as fuel for the brain and muscle) and fluid. (Says who? The amount of increase in your metabolism is not significant. Are you hungry? No? Then do not disrespect your body with unwanted, un-needed food!) A healthy breakfast also decreases the chance of overeating later in the day. (Really? This is a myth. Forcing food when you are not hungry does not decrease real hunger later. It simply disconnects you from eating with hunger, and that is trouble, causes food obsession, and disrespects your body’s hunger, and non-hunger signals.)
Tip #2: Add fiber.
Fiber slows the rate that sugar is absorbed in the bloodstream, which means you stay full longer. If you desire fibers foods, eat them. If they make you feel good, eat them. If they give you a stomach ache, don’t eat them. We all have different ancestors who developed the ability to digest food differently. Yes, we are all different. If your body needs fiber, you will know…)
You need 20 to 25 grams of fiber a day, which you can get by eating whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits, vegetables, and brown rice. Always drink lots of water when eating foods high in fiber. (Really? so when you force yourself to eat fiber, whether or not you feel good after you eat it, you must also drink more water. Hmm, how about drinking water when you are thirsty. Or drinking water because you notice that you feel better when you are well hydrated- If you don’t listen to your body, who will? This advice is one size fits all. And we are NOT all the same. )
Tip #3: Replace candy or a sweet treat with fruit.
It might not sound as satisfying, but you’d be surprised at how well it works to stop those sugar cravings. You’ll stay full longer and have more energy because your blood glucose levels will be steady. Grapes cause a rush of sugar too, Many fruits do. Bottom line: If you want fruit, have fruit. When you are hungry, however, and you are craving something high in calories and sugar- for whatever reason, it is better to satisfy that craving and hunger with exactly what you want than trying to “get by” with something you don’t really want. What often happens is that we eat the apple, then the cookie too. Better to have just had what you wanted and moved on with your day. You will crave nutritious food too- maybe never an apple, maybe your body lies pears. Discover your true food personality!
Tip #4: Read labels.
The label will tell you how much sugar, calories and fat your snack includes. Even foods advertised as “natural” might be high in added sugar, and something advertised as including “no trans fat” might have up to a half gram of this unhealthy fat in one serving. Watch for items that say “real fruit juice” to make sure it doesn’t have added corn syrup. (Or… understand that your body, when given a chance, will steer you to great food. The diet industry has made you believe that you want Twinkies, if left unguided. Not True. And judging what food you will eat based on calories cause you to eat without respect to hunger: this is only 120 calories so I can have 3! Versus, I will eat this snack and see how I feel. Sure, once you have learned to respect your hunger, you can select organic, great food. But the problem we need to solve first is understanding what our bodies are asking for. And, once you free yourself from your diet mentality, your body– despite what you have been told–will ask you for great, nutritious food, wonderful food, just right for you.)
Tip #5: Keep a food diary or journal.
Try this for a week. It will make you more conscious of what you have eaten. You may be surprised by something, like how much you’re eating or how little you’re getting in terms of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. (Hmm, sounds like you are going to add up the calories! Instead- did I eat when I was hungry, did I delay eating more when hunger was quiet- these are the questions you need to get used to asking yourself. )
Tip #6: Eat in a circle.
This term comes from encouraging children to try everything on their plate (“in a circle”) before asking for seconds on anything. More globally, it means getting out of the rut of eating the same thing every day; instead, choose a variety of fruits and vegetables of different colors to fulfill your body’s vitamin and mineral requirements. If you “eat in a circle” successfully, you might even eliminate the need for an oral supplement. (Well, your good ole body will ask for foods based on your needs at a given time. For example, when you work out more, you will be hungrier. When you sweat a lot, you may want more salt. Key? Let your body tell you, not the other way around. If you don’t think this is possible, it is because you think you know your food personality. But if you have dieted on and off for years, you have NO IDEA when you are hungry and what you truly like. Your healthy thin mentality is about reconnecting…)
Tip #7: Hydrate.
Dehydration can masquerade as hunger! Being hydrated helps the heart pump blood more easily to the muscles and organs. If you feel hungry, see if drinking an 8-ounce glass of water curbs it. Avoid sports drinks with electrolytes unless you have just finished a strenuous exercise routine. (Note: Darkcolored urine could mean you need more water!)Whatever specific foods you choose, a good diet is one that is safe, effective at delivering whatever results you seek (weight loss or maintenance, for instance), nutritious, and helps guard against health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. (As you get reacquainted with your hunger, thirst, fatigue, etc., you will do this easily. You will reach for water when you are thirsty- no one will have to tell you. You will know when you are tired, versus when you are hungry. These are not improbable feats of magic. This is normal. We have been taught to be abnormal around food- My workbook can help you make this transition – it is the best gift you will ever give yourself. )
Nutrition doesn’t happen every day. It happens over time- I think the issue here is that we get stuck in that good food bad food mentality and we feel bad when we eat “bad” food.
I was so fed up with dieting and eating right that when I started my healthy thin mentality, I ate “bad” for at least a couple of months- maybe even 6? You know what? It didn’t hurt me AT ALL. It did free me. I only ate for hunger, so I didn’t gain weight (at least not that made my pants feel any different bc I wasn’t weighing myself) but I ate without judging the food. You know what DID happen? That “bad” food lost its appeal. I think that many of us, especially if you have been a dieter for a long time, can’t turn that good food bad food voice off. So it is hard for us to eat without judgment. And if we don’t get all the right nutrition everyday, we get all concerned.
In our culture we OVER worry about nutrition and UNDER worry about portion. So here is my advice. Allow yourself to focus on the portion part of your eating – and of course that means eating in response to hunger and not in response to a food pyramid (by the way the USDA food pyramid was not based on science, it was based on food lobbyists) And over time- you taste buds will crave healthful food too. You say you don’t like veggies or fruit? Well they are associated in your mind with all kinds of negative thoughts- diet, deprivation, eating them instead of what you really want. They will come back in your life.
But, in order to free yourself from a diet mentality, you have to free yourself from the possibility of a future diet, or that mentality will creep in, and make you eat things to be “good” instead of in response to what you want. And remember this, sugar isn’t evil. People fought wars over it.
We have trouble with it because now, when we “allow” ourselves to eat sugar we tend to binge. And bingeing on it is not pleasant. So… we are on a journey to normalize your relationship with food and eating. and to do that, you have to de-arm the food. You have to take away their power. How? make friends with them. Eat them without guilt, when hungry, and know that their power over you will fade away. And then, roasted brussel sprouts with olive oil and sea salt, or boiled carrots with butter and garlic, or a crisp salad will be elevated, in your mind, to treats as well …
You find yourself eating something in a quantity that you can’t believe is okay. And, to top it off, the food you are eating is “bad.”
Then, after you have eaten it, whatever it is, you feel bad because you can’t believe your body would ask for it.
But, this is like putting a band aid on a huge gash. It doesn’t help because it isn’t addressing the problem.
Here is the problem: People don’t eat or drink in response to true hunger or thirst. They eat and drink based on:
But no one teaches their children to listen to their body to decide what and how much to eat or drink. Mothers read the latest fad diet or magic food combinations and indoctrinate their children. This is all done with good intentions, I know.
But, why give your child a list of rules, when you could give your child a much better, long term solution. Teach your children to respect their hunger and satiety. And the best way to do that is to model a thin mentality. Because kids copy their parents.
Back when I was a dieter, I would lug in cases and cases of diet soft drinks into my house, month after month. I thought I loved it, I was such a dieter.
When “released” from my diet mentality, everything looked different. Why would I drink six diet soft drinks in a day when one real one, or actually one half of a real one, was what answered my craving. And yes, I guess the 75 calories I drank of cola was more than the diet coke I drank, but it was also completely satisfying, and probably way better for me than quenching my thirst with huge amounts of 30-ingredient diet soda.
I no longer quench my thirst with diet drinks. I drink water. Believe it or not, I prefer that, honestly, I am not being “good.” And when I want a sugary drink, for whatever reason (who cares! it isn’t “evil”) I have it and then move on.
So, yea, I guess to protect the diet mentality people from themselves, we need to legislate against huge sugar drinks.(?!) Well how about helping people develop their “thin” mentality instead?
What do we humans do to comfort ourselves? We rest, we eat, we hug. Basic drives, right?
There is nothing wrong with providing your fantastic body with some comfort in the form of food that you love! People may call that eating emotionally. I call it normal.
When I am “down” for some reason and want to take care of myself, I wait for hunger and take extra effort to take care of myself in the nicest way I can. And that includes eating the food I love the most, in a nice setting, etc. Whether that is at my kitchen table, or in a restaurant, or in my bed, while I am watching TV. Yep! I eat in bed watching TV- a big dieter no-no. But since my thin mentality is strong, it is no problem. I have my snack or whatever in the most comfortable place I can find (my warm bed, especially since it has been so cold out!) and enjoy myself, feeling taken care of, and wonderful.
I do not feel guilty or bad afterward. Why would I? I waited until I was hungry and had myself a wonderful little meal, enjoyed it until I wasn’t hungry anymore, and then relaxed and read, or watched TV or whatever. What a wonderful way to end a hard day and “comfort” myself.
This is possible for me because my body and I have built a “trust relationship.” I will not starve my body on a diet and my body will not push me into bingeing. I promise my body that I will feed it when I am hungry, and I will not push food into it when hunger is absent.
You need to build that same trust with your body. Because, at this point, you may picture yourself eating emotionally by finishing a whole bag of potato chips.
Let me emphasize:
No, that is not what I do, nor is it what I recommend for anyone. Instead, follow this thin mentality behavior:
If I feel the need to comfort myself (eat emotionally) I first tell myself, “fine, as soon as I am hungry, I can comfort myself with food. Then when I get hungry, if I am craving potato chips, and I do, (I don’t know or care why, I trust myself) I take a little bowl and put a handful in it.
You may say,”Well if I can eat what I want, why don’t I just take the whole bag?”
OK, here is why. Because I know, from experience, that when I crave potato chips, I am usually satisfied with a handful. They are delicious, but hold no magic power over me the way they did when I was a dieter. And since I am “allowed” to have them whenever I am hungry, it just isn’t a big deal. I enjoy them, a lot, but they aren’t magic! I can put them down!
You will be able to too.
Start right now. No more diets. Take that possibility away and your whole view of food and eating changes completely. Your motivation to eat emotionally when you are not hungry will get weaker and weaker.
You will normalize your relationship with food. Then, when you need to comfort yourself with food, you will do so appropriately. (Appropriate amounts, when hungry)
The diet industry has taught you that this isn’t true.
I am telling you that IT IS!
Eating really healthful foods, when you are hungry and crave them is great.
But I hear a lot of people express how “healthfully” they eat without any consideration of when and how much of that healthful food they eat. It is as if they believe that the more healthful food you eat, the healthier they will be.
But that is not true.
Eating an organic avocado when you are not hungry is not healthful.
Eating an organic avocado when you are hungry and crave it, is.
That difference may not seem enormous to you, but it is. In the first example, eating something “healthful” is a higher priority than listening to your body to know if your body needs food.
And if your body doesn’t need food, then eating, not matter what it is, is not in harmony with your hunger. And that disrespect of your body’s voice is not the way to build a healthy Thin Mentality that will bring you to your ideal weight, and a peaceful and stress-free relationship with eating and your body.
And there is some research out there that points to the value of giving your body a break from eating. For example, instead of eating a lot of small meals, eating less often. Interestingly, my healthy thin mentality has brought me to this kind of eating. I go for longer periods of time without eating than I did when I was a dieter. But please understand this very very important point: this behavior is in complete harmony with my own unique hunger rhythms. Whatever your unique hunger patterns dictate, respect them, whether your hunger demands that you eat less or more frequently.
As always, the moral of the story is to respect your body’s voice and these principles:
Oh yes, fun matters.
When I was a dieter, I thought that I was a huge eater, that I craved junk, and that I was always hungry. I never thought that if given any choice, I would order fruit. I thought for sure I would order pancakes.
This perspective was reinforced every time I broke my diet. I would ravenously chow down all kinds of junk. I would eat until I felt ill. I would “binge.” And this behavior made me believe that I was hopeless and would never be able to be a naturally thin and healthy eater.
Well, guess what.
The reason I behaved like that was because all the dieting I had done. I didn’t binge because I was “bad,” I binged because I had tried to be so “good!”
When you take that restrictive, joy-sucking mentality away, your true food personality emerges. With no fear of a future diet, and with no “payback” from diet restrictions, you and your body relax. You start to realize that eating for the “hell of it,” or eating without hunger is not joyful or fabulous.
Eating when hungry is! So you begin pairing eating with hunger and that normal and healthy relationship between hunger and eating emerge. And that healthful pattern allows you to normalize both your weight, and your relationship with food.
If you don’t believe this is true, I understand. I didn’t think it could be this simple. But, it is. It truly is. Messing with your body by dieting is so much more impactful than doctors tell us. Your body does not want you to scare it by ignoring hunger.
Get your hunger/eating relationship back in order and great, no Fabulous, things happen.
One day at a time, one eating occasion at a time. You CAN do this.
And remember, waiting to eat until you are hungry, is not denying, it is simply delaying.
The following is reprinted from a study on artificial sweeteners-
It is in scientific lingo- if that bothers you, just read the sentence I highlighted in red.
There are studies in humans that show this as well- Here is a link for a great article on that-
Ok, here is the study I am reprinting-
SourceDepartment of Psychological Sciences, Ingestive Behavior Research Center, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
AbstractAnimals may use sweet taste to predict the caloric contents of food. Eating sweet noncaloric substances may degrade this predictive relationship, leading to positive energy balance through increased food intake and/or diminished energy expenditure. These experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that experiences that reduce the validity of sweet taste as a predictor of the caloric or nutritive consequences of eating may contribute to deficits in the regulation of energy by reducing the ability of sweet-tasting foods that contain calories to evoke physiological responses that underlie tight regulation. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were given differential experience with a sweet taste that either predicted increased caloric content (glucose) or did not predict increased calories (saccharin). We found that reducing the correlation between sweet taste and the caloric content of foods using artificial sweeteners in rats resulted in increased caloric intake, increased body weight, and increased adiposity, as well as diminished caloric compensation and blunted thermic responses to sweet-tasting diets. These results suggest that consumption of products containing artificial sweeteners may lead to increased body weight and obesity by interfering with fundamental homeostatic, physiological processes.
Copyright (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved.
PMID: 18298259 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Remember a few years ago when it was widely reported that there was a causal link between a low calorie diet and living longer??
My point is this:
The scientific community has come up with very few recommendations on nutrition that have not been subsequently changed.
So how does this effect us, the thin mentality people?
If you live with a thin mentality, you don’t pay attention to that stuff anyway. You are in touch with your own wisdom- your body’s instincts. That is what drives your food choices, not the “nutrition wisdom of the week.”
But here is something I have noticed about myself, and I would love to know if anyone else has noticed this.
Nutritionists traditionally recommend eating every meal with adherence to the food pyramid or some food rules.
Well, I absolutely do not eat that way. I have noticed that I tend to crave one kind of food at a time. I will crave meat, and eat a meal that is “meat-heavy.” Then another meal I will crave pasta and eat a meal that is “pasta-heavy.” Then I will crave vegetables and eat a meal that is “vegetable-heavy.”
In other words, my nutrition isn’t balanced at every meal, it is balanced over several meals.
And I feel great.
It is important for you to listen and learn about how your body drives you to “nutritious choices.” And may I remind you that if you don’t think your body will talk to you, you are incorrect. You don’t hear it now because you have shut down your inner voice for a long time.
Get quiet and really focus on listening. You will not be good at this at first. But every time that you make the effort to listen to your body, you will get better at it. And your long-ignored instincts will slowly but surely start making more noise.
I wasn’t good at it at first either. Now, I am. I am not special in this way. I am normal. And normal has been trained out of you by all the dieting you have done in your life.