This week’s Spoon Feed post is contributed by a member of the Soupure community, Dr. Mary Wansley, PhD. Dr Mary Wansley is an eating and weight loss specialist and developed a program for overcoming emotional eating, binge eating and a permanent approach to weight loss. She is in private practice in Los Angeles, CA and also works with clients remotely all over the country.
How’s this for medical advice? “Eat When You Are Hungry!”
Imagine as you age not having the pressure to look a certain way! How would you feel gracefully going about your day practicing self acceptance, giving your body just the fuel your body needs and enjoying food free of guilt? And how would you feel fully engaged in and able to enjoy the quality of your life?
At this moment and time one in 4 Americans is on a diet and there are 80 million people in the US alone trying to lose weight, hence the billion dollar diet industry. And diets succeed only to let us down. The truth is diets fail us again and again. They offer the promise of a perfect body in the beginning, then we feel deprived and what happens: we rebel. And it is actually the healthy part of us that breaks the diet and says “no, you aren’t going to punish me, I’ll show you.” Putting the pressure of having to look a certain way robs us of our quality of life and takes away the pleasure of enjoying different stages of life.
So how do we live free of dieting limitations and the pressure to look a certain way? We approach eating and food exactly the way we did as an infant. We were born with the complete intact ability to eat when hungry and stop when we feel full. As an infant and small child, we were put on an eating and sleeping schedule and ate when we were hungry and stopped the second we were full. A baby drinking a bottle could care less about how much is left, a baby will throw the bottle when satiated. But food and eating can take on an entirely different meaning as we grow up. We might turn to food for emotional reasons, feel pressure to be thin, and as a result develop food, eating, and weight problems.
So what can we do to reset our mind and live free of this destructive cycle? We can return to using food to fuel our bodies and satisfy hunger, bring structure and order to our eating and deal with life and emotions separately. Remember, this is our birth right; the way we came into the world.
When working with client’s the first tool they begin practicing is eating three moderate meals a day, and an afternoon or evening snack if needed. I recommend focusing on the concept moderate, and strongly advocate the importance of having the freedom to eat a moderate meal of whatever you choose; all the while attempting to include protein, fruit or vegetables and a carb. Vegetable based soups are a perfect and efficient way to add vegetables to a moderate diet. Playing the ‘good food bad food’ ‘can’t have shouldn’t have suppose to have’ game feels shaming make us want to rebel, and it’s a no win game. I encourage client’s to practice having a moderate meal of their choice and to aim for freedom and flexibility within the moderate meal structure. This allows us to eat and enjoy food guilt free and without restraints.
Just like infants and children, we function better and feel free and secure when we have our eating together. Make sure to have a full moderate breakfast (don’t be a breakfast scrimper) a moderate lunch, a snack if needed and a moderate dinner. As you put 3 moderate meals a day in your body, let go of random, impulsive, spontaneous eating and eating after a meal or eating just because food is in your environment. We want meals to have a beginning, a middle and an end and to be able to stop when we are full. There is no clean plate club! And we don’t want to take in additional food when we are not hungry. So you can relax about weight gain and feel confident you will loose any unwanted pounds as you fuel your body consistently and moderately without additional food.
Clients often ask me, how do I know what moderate really is? My answer: pretend you are serving a friend. Moderate is not such a copious amount he or she would be uncomfortably stuffed, nor is it a paltry amount that someone would be hungry in 2 hours. Moderate is moderate. Moderate meals led to feeling confident and in control enjoying food free of guilt. Aim for putting 80% dense nutrients in our bodies and having 20% freedom and flexibility and you can meet your nutritional needs and still have the freedom to indulge in your favorite foods, moderately.
Regulate your eating just like you were a new born. Our amazing bodies have the intact ability to experience hunger and fullness, just as we did when we came into this world. So honor your body. By eating to satisfy hunger, deal with life and emotions separately, release the pressure to diet to look a certain way, we have a chance to fully enjoy the quality of our lives.