Always a slightly chubby kid, my heaviest weight at age 15 was the start of 15 more years of insane fad diets, starvation, and eating disorders.
Below are the steps which finally freed me both physically and emotionally. No more compulsive eating. No more need to diet. No more weight problems.
Healthy eating through these steps, came naturally and comfortably.
This worked for me. Try it – it might work for you, too.
Permission to Eat
The stricter the diet, the harder it is to keep. Inevitably we “cheat” breaking the diet. For me, one bit of forbidden food made me feel that I had failed, that I was a failure, and that I had ruined the day.
Rather than just going back to my diet after any small cheat, the perception that I “ruined the day” meant that I would give up trying for that day, and would go on a binge, stuffing myself and stocking up emotionally on all the foods I vowed never to eat again. I would eat “like there was no tomorrow” because in my mind, there was no tomorrow. Tomorrow I promised myself to be back on the unrealistically strict diet, determined to follow it perfectly, forever denying myself the foods I most enjoyed.
Looking back, it was crazy.
For one thing, the ‘cheat’ was never really that bad. It could have been something as small as a bite of chocolate. It was my unrealistic goals and my anger at myself for ruining the day, leading to binging that was so profoundly self-destructive emotionally and physically.
And the thought that I would commit to that diet, that life without the foods I loved, just made me obsess over those foods.
So, the first step in learning to eat, was to give myself permission to eat.
If I wanted chocolate it’s clearly better to eat 100 calories of the food I craved, rather than 500 calories of ‘diet’ food. More important, if I knew I could have that piece of chocolate every day there was no compulsion to eat the entire box of chocolates. Getting into the habit or eating a chocolate or two after lunch every day removed the obsession and the need to binge. Most important it removed the self-judgment and gave me pleasure both physically and emotionally.
Everyday Food // Sometimes Food // Rarely Food
This system is easy in concept and practice.
your foods into:
(2)Sometimes foods, and
Your everyday foods should be absolutely healthy. Get into the habit of going first to healthy meals. As detailed in the previous step, you do have permission to eat the unhealthy foods you love, but don’t make them the basis and habit of your everyday food choices. Instead of that oatmeal raisin muffin, go for the oatmeal.
There are foods which we might not want to make the staples of our diets, but we love them, and they aren’t that bad. Chocolate, ice cream, pasta, etc. can be enjoyed and still healthy.
Try to enjoy the foods you love in the healthiest ways. Have a chocolate or two, but not the whole box. Enjoy the ice cream but ask yourself if you really need all the toppings. You might want to try sugar-free or all-natural variations. Pasta is great but try light sauces instead of something thick and creamy. Choices within choices make a big difference.
You have permission to eat those, too. It’s better to indulge yourself occasionally rather than feel deprived, which creates obsession. So, if you crave those buttery cream sauces, the cake with all the toppings, etc. just go for it. Your self-permission might make it easy to have a few bites and leave the rest. Even if you eat the whole thing, it’s going to work for you because this is a well-deserved occasional indulgence. Enjoy it guilt-free!
Eat Every Three Hours
Apparently, the science and opinions on this theory are widely varied, but thirty years ago when I first learned of this I tried it and it worked for me.
The theory is that millions of years ago as our bodies were developing, there were times of famine where it was necessary for our bodies to use every available calorie and store the extra calories as fat.
Our bodies do not know that times have changed. If we don’t eat often enough, our bodies think that there is a famine in the land, our metabolism slows down and grabs every calorie to store as fat. In my crazy diet years in my teens and 20’s, I often starved myself, sometimes fasting for a week at a time. All I was doing was slowing down my metabolism.
Eating every three hours changes our metabolism, boosts it to peak efficiency and calories are burned rapidly.
When you are eating every three hours, there will be days the feedings come quickly. On other days there is a gnawing in my stomach that last hour. Try to distract yourself, drink a glass of water and do something else. Don’t be afraid of that hungry feeling- it’s rarely going to be more than an hour – let it remind you of your increasing good health.
The Food-Mood Link
This is the thing which most dramatically changed my life and freed me from craving the wrong foods.
Once I started eating every three hours, I decided to start testing foods, using my body as the experiment. Every three hours I would eat only one food at a time and would pay close attention to how I felt in 20 minutes, 45 minutes, one hour, two hours, and then three hours, at which time I would eat something else.
By doing this, I came to closely associate foods with how they made me feel. Those chocolates I would eat made me drag through the rest of the day. If I had meetings where I wanted to be alert and energetic, I would save the chocolate treat for the evening, but then, when is the time I wanted that draggy feeling?
Eventually instead of associating chocolates with the pleasurable taste, they were only associated with the physically uncomfortable feelings. The cravings vanished. New cravings grew for the foods which made me feel the best. To this day there are foods which used to be delicious which only make me wonder why anyone would put them in their body.
As an aside, there is a great diet which teaches us to eat what works best for our blood type. After years of doing the food-mood link, it was not surprising that I had learned to avoid foods which are normally considered healthy, but were not in harmony with my blood. Check out the diet here: The Blood Type Diet
Smell and Memory
Some foods are like drugs in that eating them makes you want more of them. I have found this true for anything with sugar and wonder if you will find the same with the unhealthy foods you currently enjoy.
After years of not eating sugar, every time I decided to treat myself to something sweet the taste ranged from disappointing to awful. So, when a plate of fresh baked oatmeal raisin cookies was placed in front of me, the smell from the warm cookies was pure joy. I was about to eat one, when I realized that the smell and the memory were more than enough, and why spoil those by eating the thing I knew would make me feel bad and will ultimately disappoint?
- Start your every three hours in the morning.
- Eat the
bigger meals earlier:
- The good news is that eating every three hours, you won’t want much late at night. Going to bed without a full stomach will help you lose weight and sleep better, too.
- Remember: Eat late = gain weight.
lots of water:
- Add water to food by making soup.
- Save it or
give it away:
- Eat less than you think you need
- Save half for later, or,
- Give half to a homeless person.
- Distract yourself:
- Slathered on your food this will get your body working to push everything though quickly and efficiently.
- The ‘One
Ingredient Food’ Rule:
- When out, stick with foods where you can see what you are eating. For example, a baked potato is fine, mashed potatoes – no. You don’t know what is in them.
- Save soups, meatloaf, etc for home when you can make healthy versions.
- Plan your
- Fill the Fridge with Healthy Food-
- Fill the freezer, too. Soup, meatloaf, etc.
- Don’t stock junk food (except your favorite)
- Carry Healthy Food with You
- Pack your meals
- Protein Bars
- Read food labels to make healthier choices.
- Raw foods
- Even the same food burns more calories in a less processed version. For example, get the long cook oatmeal as opposed to instant.
- Use a
- It really makes the meal seem bigger!
Bite Rule for sweets:
- Save it for later, give it away, just quit after three bites. They are the best ones anyway. And remember, you can have more tomorrow.
- If you are having trouble quitting that cheesecake after three bites, then slather it with salt, pepper, ketchup – anything that will ruin it!
- Quit Salt:
- It’s healthier
- Once you get accustomed to it, you’ll enjoy the real taste of food.
- You’ll drop a pound or two.
- It takes 20 minutes for vitamins to get from your stomach, into your blood, and to your brain with the message that you’ve had enough food.
- Get more active (but you knew that!).
The Good News
You might think that when you are drawn to healthy food, you will somehow be missing something, perhaps missing the joy of eating, or missing treats. Nothing can be further from the truth.
When you get accustomed to skipping salt, you taste and enjoy the real flavors in foods.
When you quit sugar, you will be astonished at the foods which suddenly taste like candy. Sugar snap peas really do taste like the most delicious sugar. Plain yogurt tastes like candy to me and I sometimes have it for dessert. You are going to love love love the new taste of food.
When you know what foods make you feel awful or great, instead of resisting the bad ones, you will look at them and wonder why anyone would put that into their body. No more denying yourself- you will naturally just want what makes you feel best.
Food will now nourish your body, soul, and spirit. Eating healthy food every three hours stabilizes mood and tempers, and boosts energy. No more needing afternoon naps.
Most important, you are going to be liberated. Liberated from cravings, from food as addictive reward, from boredom eating, from toxic habits. And you will be liberated from dieting and weight problems.
Happy, healthy eating, and happy, healthy life. You're going to love it!