Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Eating like naturally thin people

And for that matter why is maintenance so hard?  I've never hit maintenance before but from reading various blogs and listening to podcasts the general consensus is that maintenance is hard, if not harder than losing the weight in the first place.   I finished that book on hunger directed eating and every chapter blew me away.  Everything she said, and talked about registered deeply within me.  I was left dumbfounded, excited, energized, and feeling like just maybe I could live a normal life and not have to always consider myself as being "on plan" or "off plan".  So I will probably be talking about various parts of the book over the next few posts since my mind is in a feverish state of processing everything she talks about.  I think the two biggest reasons why this book resonated so much with me is because 1. I desperately want to live a life where I can have a normal relationship with food and eat what I want when I want and not have to obsess over counting calories and worrying about 'blowing it'.  She promises five things that Hunger Directed Eating will do for you:
1. You will get and stay naturally thin.
2. You will eliminate food obsession.
3. You will be free from the grip of 'kryptonite foods'
4. You will replace feeling out of control with a sense of food mastery and confidence.
5. You will be able to get and stay thin without deprivation.
And who wouldn't want that?  The second reason why this book resonated so much within me is because she talks about eating the way naturally thin people do and when I look around at my naturally thin family and friends, they do exactly what she talks about in her book.  Take my kids for example: ages 3.5 and 1.5, still very young and uncorrupted yet by social food conditioning.

They eat when they are hungry.  They let me know when they are hungry and if they are very hungry they eat quickly.  As they approach satiety, they slow down and eventually stop eating and the food that they were shoveling into their mouths just moments before is now being mashed into tiny bits or thrown on the floor.  They eat what they want when they want, and they are both in the 90th percentiles for height and in the 25th percentiles for weight.  Of course I make sure to give them options and don't let them snack on candy all day long, but even if I do inundate them with snacks every so often, when they have had enough they stop eating, dumping the popcorn out all over the floor or crushing their goldfish into tiny bits or feeding them to the dog.  They almost always leave food on their plate confident that the next time they get hungry there will be food.

My husband eats this way, so does my mom, and my little sister and my brother.  Even my older sister who is caught up in what I like to call the "health hype" eats this way.  Do they occasionally overeat?  Sure, but they listen to their bodies, and they don't have the typical dieting behaviors I have developed like binge eating and gasping for food and "eating because you ate".  It never ceases to amaze me when after eating seemingly no food, one of these family members will push their food away because they have reached satiety.  No pressure to polish off their plate, no feverish panic that the food is almost gone, simply the meal is over and it is time to do something else.  Mind Blowing, and completely the opposite of every learned behavior.  I measure out my food, I eat all my food.  If I want more maybe I try to wiggle around a few of my calories so I can eat some more food now, but I will pay for it later.  It's no secret that I have an unhealthy relationship with food.  In fact, I exhibit all 7 reasons why diets don't work according to Josi Spinardi:
1. Dieting intensifies cravings and preoccupation with food-check,
2. Dieting makes you eat more not less through binge eating, gasping for food and eating because you ate- check
3. Dieting makes you feel out of control with food- check
4. Dieting increases emotional distress and the likelihood that you'll eat in response to the stress- check stress eating is my forte and I am also very good at beating myself up over it hence the emotional distress
5. Dieting creates a whole new category of overeating called "eating cuz you ate" - I do this one in droves
6. Diets don't model naturally thin eater's behavior- I realize this now just by looking at my family
7.Diets don't resolve the real reasons why you eat when you are not hungry- check. If they did then they would actually work and diets wouldn't be so hard to stay on.

My naturally thin family.  I worked HARD to look that good in that picture and I'm about 143-145 in that pic.  My brother over to the far left, my parents in the middle, my two sisters on the right, my older sister on the far right with her husband behind her.  Of course then you recognize me, and my girls on the left and my husband is behind me

 The past year and a half I have found success in conventional dieting but I adapted it, I slipped up, I tried again and I never really went off or quit.  When I hit my plateau I wondered if I should just take a break for a while, but was terrified that my weight would creep back up.  I was always on plan or off plan, being good or binging, but along the way I made some healthier changes that I was able to actually change from within.  I like eating healthier now, I have made some steps unknowingly towards hunger directed eating although I am largely still in the dieting category.  I choose fruit over crackers because I like the way it make me feel.  I choose home made dinners over takeout because... well frankly we can't afford take out every day, but even if we could takeout makes me feel like crap.  I've noticed how eating certain foods (like hamburgers from Red Robin) leave me debilitated hours later lying on the couch clutching my stomach because of the pains of that greasy food going through me.  If I'm lucky I'll throw it up and the pain will be over, but I'm not always lucky... so I just don't eat hamburgers from Red Robin.

I want to throw myself into Hunger Directed Eating, but the truth is... I'm terrified.  I cling to my daily calorie requirements like someone drowning in the ocean would cling to a life preserver.  Without that I would feel lost, always wondering where I am, how I'm doing.  But that is the point of listening to your body.  Your body knows what it needs, and since I have checked out of my body for so long, I think it would take a while to really get in tune with it again.  So for now I am going to start applying some of the skills of hunger directed eating before I decided to take the full plunge.  I still want to weigh myself on Sunday, and I don't want anything to mess that up, which I suppose in and of itself shows more than anything the dieter's mentality.  So maybe I should just throw weighing myself on Sunday out the window and dive head first into this little experiment.  But no, I won't do that because I need to see if I made progress last month.... or do I?  I can take my measurements, take my pictures, I know my pants are feeling looser and my thighs for the first time are looking less bulging.  Josi recommends never weighing yourself since it is such a poor indicator of weight loss, and using your clothes as a better indicator.  I feel a bit conflicted about it right now.  I want to rid myself of the need to use the scale, but can I do that?  Can I let that go?  I'm not so sure.  It sounds all well and grand when reading it but when you think about actually doing it, it scares me to death.  And then of course there is the question of what to do about the remaining two months of my challenge.


  1. I loved this post... keep them coming! Thanks for all the insight on the book, I too love the "idea" of eating normally, but who says counting PPV (calories) isn't normal. Maybe applying some of the principles is the best way to start, what's that old saying..."Your past is a good indicator of the future." In the past I was constantly starting over on Monday, or the first of the month...or after whatever holiday had passed. I would rather count PPV (calories) then constantly hitting the rest button. You're Awesome, whatever you decide!

  2. Dear Jenna, just read your post and am wondering, how you are doing? I feel exactly what you describe and am terribly frightened to give up my control tools. Even though these tools make me binge and fully lose control. I know it is the solution but I dont know how long it will take to heal, if I will gain weight. If in the end I will never be able to stop eating again. Hope you are well! Thanks for your post, it made me feel like there is someone who understands what I am feeling.