A lot of emotional eaters eat fast – not just a little bit fast, but extremely fast, minimally chewing their food, and raising the next bite to their mouth before the bite they’re chewing is swallowed. Everybody knows the reasons not to do this:
You barely taste your food or experience having eaten it, and thus need more to feel satisfied.
Your body doesn’t have time to give you physical cues of satiation, so you eat painfully past full.
Insufficient chewing causes problems with digestion that are uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.
Slowing down is desirable, but the tricks people use to do this – eat with the opposite hand, count your chews, or (most bizarre) use an iPhone app that rings a bell when you’re allowed to take the next bite – are as “tail wagging the dog” and doomed to failure as dieting to control emotional eating.
If you want to stop emotional eating, you need to understand why you’re doing it and address the underlying issues. If you want to stop fast eating, you need to understand why you’re doing it and address those issues. So why do you do eat so fast?
Great lecture by Gary Taubes on the true causes of obesity that explodes many common myths – including the widely held belief that obesity is a simple matter of calories in exceeding calories out. You think this is obviously true? It’s not. Watch!
People are overweight either because they eat too much food or they eat the wrong food (too many processed foods, too many sweets). But it is not for lack of knowledge of what to eat, and this is a crucial point. Most overweight people could write a book about nutrition and what they "should" be eating. They know what to do, but they don’t do it. Why?
It’s not that fat people are weak or morally deficient. It’s that there is a compulsive aspect to overeating. Part of it is the physical effect of processed food – sugar, salt, and fat. But this isn’t the whole story, and it’s not even the biggest part of the story because people can and do learn to eat moderate amounts of these types of foods.
The main reason for overeating is emotional eating – stress eating. And here’s the thing: dieting can’t fix that.
It’s holiday time. Those of us in the U.S. had our Thanksgiving feast just a few days ago. Jews around the world are about the celebrate the first night of Channukah, and then right after that is Christmas. No rest for the weary tummy!
There is no better time to return to Normal Eating. That certainly beats stressing out about the holidays and eating yourself sick as you fight with yourself over every mouthful.
The Normal Eating Forum is the companion support group to my book, Normal Eating for Normal Weight. I’ve noticed quite a few old familiar names reappearing in the Normal Eating Forum recently, and it’s so nice to see them again. How about you? Are you struggling with food? Come back to Normal Eating! If you purchased a lifetime membership, you can come back at any time. If you don’t remember your password, you can use the “forgot password” link to retrieve it – assuming you still have the same email address. If you don’t, just email me and I’ll get you set up again. If you’re not yet a member, join us!
Right now I eat a junkfood diet and have for decades. I don’t eat fruit or vegetables hardly ever. I never learned to prepare dinner every night. I live mostly on pizza, hamburgers and fries, Chick-Fil-A and restaurant food. I also have a sugar jones. I fall asleep, wake up an hour or two later and then when half awake go down and binge on cookies, candy, cake, and other sweets.
I understand stage one is about legalizing all food. I know I have to stop thinking of these foods as “bad” and beating myself for eating them. How can I lose my shame over eating these foods?
She is right that there is no shame in food choices – ever – and that you have the right to eat whatever you want. But she is wrong that the foods she’s eating are not “bad”. They’re pretty bad nutritionally, though she still has ever right to eat them. It’s also not true that the first stage of Normal Eating is “legalizing”. She’s confusing Normal Eating with some other attuned eating programs that I think make a serious mistake.
I found out recently that the counseling degree I received in 1980 became licensable in New York State in 2005. Had I learned this when it first happened, I could have been grandfathered in and my services would have been eligible for insurance reimbursement. But unfortunately, I found out only a few weeks ago – long after the grandfathering deadline of January 1, 2006. I could still go through the licensing procedure, but it would take years and may not be realistic without the grandfathering – all of which caused me to reassess my fees.
I originally based my fees on what’s usually charged for life coaching, which can be quite expensive (double what I’d been charging) and is never covered by insurance. But in practice I’ve found that my fees put coaching in reach only for affluent clients, and I don’t want to only help affluent clients. So last week I decided to significantly lower my coaching rates.
I posted about this in the Normal Eating forum, and it led to an interesting discussion about phone coaching – who needs it, when do you need it, how does it work? Questions and answers follow.
For an emotional eater, giving up dieting can be terrifying. Suddenly there are no rules. You’re responsible for your own food choices, and you’re not sure you can be trusted. You may have struggled for years with lack of control around food. You may fear that Normal Eating can’t work for you, that you don’t have the ability to choose well. You may feel that the only possible way to control what you eat is through the external strictures of a diet.
The culture at large reinforces this fear. If you tell someone you’ve decided not to diet anymore, you’re likely to be told what a dangerous mistake you’re making, how natural appetites have no natural limits, and the only way to lose excess weight is through a diet. You’ve probably been told every day of your life that you’re not competent to choose your own food.
But it’s not true! Natural limits are part of our natural instincts. You just lose touch with your natural, internal controls when you become used to looking outside yourself for guidance. As you reconnect with yourself and learn to meet your needs in authentic ways, compulsion melts away and you are able to eat normally.
Today’s post will be somewhat personal because I’ve been quite sick. The problem, as usual, is my digestive system – the ulcerative colitis that originally inspired the Normal Eating method. When an emotional eater has health-mandated eating restrictions, he or she must resolve emotional eating in a very deep way to avoid getting triggered. And thus the Normal Eating method was born.
This time around my challenge was a little different. I wasn’t trying to follow a special diet that I hoped would cure me (though I did make certain changes I’ll talk about shortly). I was – and am – taking a drug that I know from past experience causes pronounced increase in appetite and water retention, potentially leading to rapid weight gain and "moonface" (puffed out cheeks): the dreaded Prednisone.
First key point: When you are sick enough to need this drug, it puts the importance of appearance in perspective. When you are so sick that you cannot leave home or enjoy life at all, a fast 20 pound weight gain and a head like a basketball seems a small price to pay to be functional and pain-free. That said, I did not gain 20 pounds this time.
Emotional eaters often feel enormous guilt about eating – and especially enjoyment of eating. This may seem like a small matter, but in fact guilt-free enjoyment of food is a key factor in recovery. From my book, Normal Eating® for Normal Weight:
Our modern society views enjoyment of eating in much the same way as Victorians viewed enjoyment of sex – dangerous and sinful, something to feel guilty about. It’s considered almost obscene not to be on a diet that restricts what you eat.