How would you like to eat, drink and weigh less?
You can. Reducing your weight isn’t a matter of fearing food, it’s all about learning how to eat less and love it more. Fear of food is making us fat.
Every time I turn around I see headlines exclaiming the ever-rising obesity rate in the U.S. The latest alarming headline I saw went beyond the US borders to proclaim obesity is taking over the entire planet. “Obese people now outnumber underweight people for the first time in human history.”
It doesn’t make sense. One would think that with all of the awareness of the health risks associated with obesity that people would be weighing less, not more. Why is it not true? I’m just one person and I’m no scientific expert.
I haven’t concluded a study covering decades with thousands of people to determine why obesity rates are increasing rather than decreasing. I can’t offer a conclusion of my research for peer review and publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal, but I think I have an answer.
I have been helping people lose weight for almost 25 years and I’ve seen a lot and helped a lot of people in that time. One consistent complaint I hear has been, “I can’t control myself. I eat too much of the wrong food! Once I start I can’t stop so I try not to ever eat that stuff because it will get me every time.” They fear food! I’ve seen for myself what happens when people fear food.
If there were a single idea that I would like to impress upon all overweight people who want to lose weight, it would be “food isn’t your enemy.” Too many people who are struggling to reduce their weight get in food fights with themselves. We need to turn around an adversarial relationship with food. We need to embrace food – all food.
Weighing less is the result of eating and drinking and most of all, associating pleasure, not guilt, with food and eating. It’s hard, I know, because it’s the opposite of how we’ve been conditioned to think about food and weight loss. It keeps getting harder because there is so much junk science taking us further down the road of fearing food.
Jackie says, “Don’t run away from the food you love.”
Chances are that you have heard or read about foods that harm your health. Those foods are possibly the foods you love. It could be baked goods made with added sugars, white flour, and trans fats. Perhaps your weakness is bacon or steak.
Some of us are attracted to potato chips and fries like steel is attracted to magnets. The link between obesity and soft drinks is in the news now as a result of the soda tax recently passed in Philadelphia.
We have all heard how bad some foods are for us and how they make us fat. We’re warned to avoid them. That seems like simple, sensible advice, and yet, we just can’t seem to follow it. Some of us struggle more than others and with that struggle may come a lot of guilt and self-loathing.
I’d like to suggest it’s not the food choices that make us fat, it’s the guilt. When we lose the guilt we can eat and drink what we love while we lose weight. So, how do we lose guilt associated with food choices when it’s been drilled in our heads that we’re good when we only eat healthful foods and we’re bad when we eat junk food?
1. Build the foundation of your food plan on foods that are naturally nutritious.
2. Include your favorite food and drinks that don’t fit the naturally nutritious profile.* Plan for them as much as possible. When? How much? If your plan goes awry, that’s okay. Don’t magnify the discrepancy by dwelling on it. You didn’t adhere to your noble intentions. That’s okay. Maybe it will take practice because you’re teaching yourself a new skill.
3. Trust yourself to eat what you love. It’s not the food you don’t trust, it’s your ability to maintain control when you’re eating it. Maybe your carefully measured portion isn’t enough and you go on to eat more than planned. When you trust yourself you empower yourself to stay within your plan. It’s the lack of trust and not the food itself that causes a problem.
4. You don’t need to “forgive yourself” for eating too much because you didn’t do anything wrong. Instead of forgiving yourself, give yourself clear directions to get back on track.
5. Eat, drink, and weigh less! You can do it!
* Nutritious or questionably nutritious, don’t concern yourself with words like “healthy food” and “junk food.” When you do that you make food a moral issue and that means you feel good and virtuous when you eat healthy food (especially healthy food you don’t enjoy) and bad and evil when you eat junk food (especially the junk food you love the most.)