The great debate.
Have you ever met someone who seems to “eat all the time” but stays at a healthy weight? Have you thought “oh they must have a fast metabolism.” While you reach for the next big diet craze because, well, your metabolism must be slow. What if I challenged you to think differently? What if that person, metabolism being fast or not, also has healthy eating cues? What if this person never (or at least not really) let emotional cues dictate their food consumption, or never lost their ability to hear their tummy rumble. Did you notice that many people who have a healthy relationship with food also tend to be these people who are a healthy weight? And, think for a second about how long it takes for them to eat – have you noticed that they tend to actually enjoy the food rather than shove it down as if it’s their Last Supper?
Here’s the thing about dieting – and this world we live in that dictates what foods we should and shouldn’t eat, how much, and how often we should eat the “good” yet totally untasteful (much of the time) food. It leaves you feeling like you “can’t” have something, and then what? Of course you want it more. So you hide, you binge on the foods that you previously feel were off limits and you wake up 2 hours later from your binging coma to realize you don’t even know everything you just consumed. The next day you wake up with a headache and a hum-glum feeling like you now have two choices – think “oh damn, I blew it” and eat all the “bad” foods until your food coma turns into a food grave, or you can punish yourself by restricting again.
That’s all it is isn’t it? We punish ourselves for eating the foods we enjoy because we’ve been conditioned to believe that this behavior is not good. And well, anyone who has been taught good vs bad knows that the bad get punished. But why is it then, that your healthy weight friend can have a piece of chocolate cake and not go into a spiral of binge eating and feeling bad and obsession and whatever else it leads to? Why is it that she is able to stay so healthy and still eat all those “bad” foods!? She must workout! That’s got to be it!
When I ask my friends who seem to have it all figured out, most of them don’t spend hours at the gym, many of them spend a lot of time doing things they enjoy – like horseback riding or hiking. Some enjoy running, which I’m sure helps them stay so lean, but regardless of activity picked – one even said gardening in the spring time! You want to know what I didn’t hear? I didn’t hear “watch TV” “catch up on my couch time” “I’m too tired to move.” These people, all answered the question of “what do you do with your “you” time?” With some sort of physical activity.
So, what is the takeaway here?
Challenge yourself to think differently. If you’ve spent years dieting – feeling like a slave to food, or if you’ve ever thought that a certain food is bad (not just bad for you, but bad as in you can not have that food) then you may have a skewed view of one of the most important things that humans need.
Here, before I close this out, let me give you a reference. Think about an African Safari, have you ever seen the discovery channel where they show lions? Have you ever noticed that lions all tend to be well fed? Not too skinny, and not fat? Of course there are innate biological reasons a lion wants to be lean – to be fast so he can catch his prey, right? Do you think Mr Lion thinks to himself “oh no, this gizelle is bad I shouldn’t eat it, I should only eat rabbits and fox?” No. No, I don’t think so. Here’s another – do you have a dog or a cat? Have you ever fed them their food at a regular interval – lets say breakfast and dinner, and let’s say one day they don’t finish their breakfast or at dinner they don’t finish it all? Or maybe they don’t eat it right away? Did you assume they were sick? They probably were not. Did they eat it eventually? They probably did. You see, your pets innate hunger and fullness cues don’t run on a time clock – they don’t punch in at 9am and out at 6pm, and neither do yours.
This concept I’ve outlined is not my own, and it’s not new. It’s called “intuitive eating” and has been introduced to me by a fellow group fitness instructor who has struggled in many of the same (or similar) battles as I have, with food. If what you just read interests you, I suggest you pick up a copy – or the kindle version of course – and read this book.
Then, let me know what you think!