Is anyone else sick of the talk surrounding how to “manage” the holidays? Even if I racked my brain ALL day, I’d struggle to come up with a new suggestion that would alleviate any stress surrounding the holidays, weight, and healthful eating. We all know what to do…so why don’t we (always) do it?
I had one of those most insightful sessions with a patient the other day. Our entire session was spent discussing the psychology and dysfunction behind why we do what we do when it comes to food. She recalled sitting at a luncheon and plowing heaps of food into her mouth despite being uncomfortably full. She said she felt as though food was going to lurch from her stomach it was so full – filled to capacity, literally. And yet when she realized there was a dish she hadn’t tried, she got up to help herself. She described eating to the point of exhaustion – mentally and physically. She had over-consumed to the point of being ill. And yet, 20 minutes later, she gives in to the ice cream and pie that she wanted to taste. She proceeded to consume large portions of dessert, despite having already been physically ill from eating too much. And she left the luncheon feeling completely confused by her actions, and moreover, the constant cycle of this behavior. WHY do we do this?
I don’t feel there’s any physical explanation as to why this happens; I feel this is wholly mental. Rather than focusing on calories, or journaling intake, or exercise, or adequate hydration, or food choices, I’ve decided to approach this behavior by confronting the behavior and not the food. My suggestion to my patient was to keep a log of her hunger cues and to listen to her body’s needs.
If you’re reaching for an apple…
Question: Are you HUNGRY? Yes or no.
If no, WHY are you going to eat? (circle one: everyone else is, looks good, bored, sad, excited, tired, celebrating, meal time)
If you’re not hungry, do NOT eat the apple.
Wait 10 minutes.
Question: Are you HUNGRY? Yes or no.
If no, do you still WANT that apple?
If yes, eat the apple.
If no, do not eat. Ponder your reasoning behind wanting to eat in the first place? What can you do to change this?
If this sounds crazy, chances are you’ve never struggled with your weight or over-eating. Consciously or not, this type of behavior happens day-in and day-out for most all of us. This type of behavior is mainly subconscious, but destructive and dangerous to health and body weight.
Most anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows that I am a HUGE supporter of the “Fit-Over-Fat” theory. And familiar with the “Health At Every Size” (HAES) concept, have probably heard of Linda Bacon, professor of nutrition at City College of San Francisco and author of “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight .”
Linda Bacon supports “intuitive eating” – a means of consuming food that is in tune with hunger signaling (i.e. eating when you’re hungry and quitting when you’re satisfied). There are few individuals out there who can deem their diets flawless. Anyone and everyone should aim to incorporate healthy eating and lifestyle patterns to consume the right amount of the good and work to eliminate the bad. As a nation, we are so hyper-sensitive about weight status, clothing sizes, and weight loss…it’s nearly impossible to get excited about simply making a change because it’s the right move for your health and relationship with food and exercise. Maybe you’re like myself and just wish to escape from food from time-to-time to improve your “foodship” – your relationship with food.
The above scenario I would consider a classic case of poor foodship. The exercise detailed above is meant to hone in on signals for eating and to initiate a pattern of intuitive eating rather than the constant, mindless eating so many partake in.
While food, nutrition, and weight comprise my job each day, I would also consider food and nutrition a hobby. I guess you could say food is a HUUUUGE component of my life whether I’m shopping, preparing, eating, or thinking about food…everything seems to come back to food.
Some individuals place little emphasis on food; my mother doesn’t think about food, “crave” food, over-indulge in food, or talk about food. It’s just not a focal point of her life, unlike mine. Which leads me to my next thought — those with little emphasis on food have not only good “foodship” but also healthier weight statuses. I think this also ties in to Linda Bacon’s “intuitive eating,” don’t you?
I’m sure others have heard the saying, “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.” As an RD, I feel over-consumed by food from all angles of my life, and I can’t help but feel over-whelmed sometimes. And I can’t imagine others don’t feel the same – weight loss gimmicks smothered across magazines in the check-out lane, commercials and advertisements in all of our media, TV shows devoted to weight-loss…it’s every where. Every day. All day long.
So, question…do you feel there’s just TOO much exposure and emphasis surrounding weight-loss, dieting, food, etc.? Do you think your “foodship” could use a make-over? Do you think much of our country’s obesity can be attributed to poor relationships with food and lack of “intuitive eating”?
Can make this holiday season more healthful by utilizing intuitive eating? Will your holiday season really be less fulfilling and special if you don’t leave your celebration with unbuttoned pants? Probably not. 😉
Merry Christmas to all and to all a healthful holiday!
. Jameson, Marnell. Do Extra Pounds Always Equal Extra Risk? The Los Angeles Times. October 12, 2009.