Response to email question

I received an email that asked how to handle it when someone you care about gives you a nice gift of food.  And if you eat the whole thing, is that OK if you were, in fact hungry.  That question actually raises some key issues, so I am copying my answer to this blog.  I hope it is helpful...

First, it is so nice that your husband was sweet and brought you a delicious treat on your birthday morning.

Above all, I want you to focus on that.

Our diet mentalities frequently make us miss out on really wonderful parts of our lives, such as enjoying a husband who wanted to start your birthday off right by bringing you a wonderful muffin.

So, instead of worrying so much about whether or not you should eat the “whole muffin,”  focus on responding to him with appreciation and happiness.  That takes the focus off of food, (which has been reinforced with your diet mentality) and puts it back on enjoying your life. 

But, back to the muffin!  Here are two different scenarios:

1.  You were hungry when he gave you the muffin:

If you were truly hungry when he gave the muffin to you, and that is what your body was craving, then yes, it is compatible with a “thin mentality” to go ahead and eat it.   But, as you eat, keep checking in with yourself.  The question is not, “Am I full.”  The question is, “Could I stop eating now and feel good.”

Looking to feel “full” is not what you want.  That will lead to overeating.  You are training your body to know that when it is hungry you will provide it with enough food to stop the hunger, not to be full.

2.  You were NOT HUNGRY when he gave you the muffin:

If it were my husband, even if I didn’t want the muffin right then, I would probably take a bite and make a fuss over how good it was because… when someone gives you something, it is not all about you.  It is about the giver too.  And I think reciprocating with some loving enjoyment of a bite of the muffin is a kind, reasonable, common sense/kind thing to do.

“You mean even with a thin mentality, you would eat it when you weren’t hungry?”

OK, here is the clincher:  I would take A BITE.  I have a thin mentality and I know that one bite won’t hurt me.  And I would wrap it up very nicely and put it proudly on my counter and when I was hungry for something sweet, I would make sure my husband knew how much I enjoyed that muffin.

Remember the whole point of a thin mentality is to bring common sense back into your relationship with food.  And of course taking one little bite to make your partner feel like you appreciated his effort is sensible.

Now, after you ate the muffin, you said you were worried because you knew it was high calorie.  Well that is right, but guess what?  Your body knows too!

When you eat a calorie dense meal or snack, you aren’t sneaking that by your body.  It will be less hungry later and/or take longer to get hungry.

I know that there are a lot of so called “experts” who say that if you eat something sweet, it will make you crave more later.  I don’t believe that.  I think that people eat more sweets later because they think they have already blown it and might as well eat more sweet stuff because they will begin a diet tomorrow.

So don’t worry after you eat it and don’t feel guilty.  You said you had been really active the day before.  Your body was probably just responding to that!

I know many of you who are new to this whole thin mentality thing don’t trust your body.  You think your body will be “bad” and crave “bad” things if you don’t reign it in.

Give yourself a chance.  I thought the same thing.  When the threat of diets goes away, your body relaxes.  And when you trust your body, it trusts you.  And binges go away.

And the way to use your thin mentality to lose the weight is to keep in touch with your body as you are eating.  Could you stop now and be ok?  You will learn that you can stop much earlier than you used to think you would be able to.

You may think you have a big appetite.  Maybe you do, maybe you don’t.  But don’t reinforce that possibility with self fulfilling prophesy.  Leave yourself open to the possibility that you may not have a big appetite.  You are most likely completely normal and in the middle.

You may have been trained by your parents, or the diet industry, or habits you have solidified with friends, to eat a certain amount.  Again, open up yourself to the possibility that your appetite is actually normal and maybe even small!?!

And that means being open to examine your habits.  Are you eating that whole muffin out of habit, or because it was just “there?”

Do you always order dessert at a certain restaurant?  Do you always have a large plateful of spaghetti on Wednesdays?  Whatever!  Interrupt those habits.

Listen to your body for your eating cues.  Don’t look at the calendar or your watch to decide what to eat!!

Find out more in my book and workbook.

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Meg Meranus
Meg is committed to helping frustrated dieters see the truth: Diets don’t work, and ironically, over time, actually make you fatter.