Thought for Food

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You put on a shirt that looks amazing on you. So you wear three of the same shirt all at the same time.

You put on your makeup and it goes on perfectly. So you add a few more layers because more is better, right?

You pump gas until the pump shuts off, indicating that your gas tank is full. So you squeeze the trigger again and keep pumping more gas, watching it spill all over the ground.

You pour water in a glass and it starts spilling over the top. So you keep pouring as the glass overflows and water spills all over the sink, counter, or floor.

Do these scenarios sound a bit odd? Then how about this.

You eat a handful of chips. They taste good. So you eat the entire bag. You eat some *insert food here.* You are full. But it tastes good. So you keep eating.

Would you eat more steaks or salads, or anything for that matter, than your body needs because the first one you ate tasted good? Would you continue to eat even if you weren’t hungry? Do you eat until you feel full and uncomfortable? If you answered yes, then really think about your answer and ask yourself why. Then think about that answer.

If you know to stop with one shirt, with one layer of makeup, when the gas tank or glass is full, then why would you not use the same logic with food?

Think about it. We choose our clothing or makeup because we feel good about our choice. It projects who we are and how we feel about ourselves. The vehicle uses only so much gas to run. The cup holds only so much water. The body only needs a certain amount of food.

If you wouldn’t purchase or wear or do something that won’t make you feel good about yourself or, ultimately, just seems silly, then why would you do that with food?

I realize there are many different reasons that people have a skewed, unhealthy relationship with food and this is not to even remotely attempt to go into all of them. I will write more on this topic in future blogs. Now, however, I will try to help you see one reason that makes no sense. The one that I hear the most often.

 

Photo by Brooke Lark.

 

 

 

“It was so good, I couldn’t stop eating.”

 

 

 

 

 

And you know what? I am guilty of saying the same thing. But… Think about it. Really think about it. The food tastes SO GOOD that you or I have no will to say no to it. (And why are we talking to our food in the first place?) And yes, it’s our will that is challenged because “can,” “can’t,” “could,” and “couldn’t” all mean that we have control; however, “can’t” and “couldn’t” indicated that we choose to give it up.  But how is that possible when it comes to food? Is the food chasing us down and jumping into our mouths? Nope. Is it threatening our very existence if we don’t eat it all NOW? Nope.

It’s you and I, not our food, who have the ability to control our interactions with food. You and I who make the decisions about food. And you and I who have the choice about whether to eat more than we need to. When we continue to eat, our choice is to continue eating. It’s that simple.

“Can’t stop” or “Couldn’t stop” are just excuses. It’s easier to place the blame for our actions onto the food than to take responsibility for them.

Now, when I find myself saying, “OMG! This is so good I can’t stop eating it.” I know that I actually can stop. I am just choosing not to. It puts things into perspective. When I think the sentence or say the sentence out loud, I realize that I am incorrect. I actually do have control to stop eating. Everyone does. It’s when someone gives up the control that things get out of hand… and, ultimately, very unhealthy. If this is you, then you need to change your relationship with food.

Food is not our friend. And, contrary to what might be heard on reality television shows with some rather large people heading for surgery or death, food does not make you happy. Say the next sentences out loud. “Food does not make me happy. I make me happy.” It’s true. Food is just fuel for the body. Nothing more. Nothing less. If you think about it that way and you actually consider why you are putting every single bite of food into your mouth, you may start to think about exactly what kind of food you are putting into your body, and then you might reconsider your decision about giving up control.

Most people who know me also know that I am anti dieting. I loathe “fad” and “trendy” diets. Your body needs fuel, in the form of food. Your body also needs a variety of foods (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) and a certain amount of calories for fuel every single day.

It’s no secret that every body needs their own specific amount of calories (energy) to function. The body is also extremely efficient. “Fast metabolism” or “slow metabolism,” your body does EVERYTHING for a reason.

If you eat too little, your body will accommodate by slowing down how quickly the fuel is used. Most know this as “starvation mode.” This is not the same as when you miss a meal and get very hungry. This is an effect from not eating enough calories. Your body wants to stay alive so it gets very efficient at allocating energy to do so. Most people think of this as a “slow metabolism” because after a long period of not eating enough, it seems the body holds on to every calorie you eat once you start eating again. Guess what? It does. It’s one reason you gain weight back after fasting or detoxing or attempting a fad diet. Your body is just making sure that you will live should you starve it again at some point. Conversely, if you eat too much, your body will gladly store any extra fuel away for a treacherous food-barren day. Ironically, this may also be inaccurately described as a “slow metabolism.” It’s not the same. You are consuming more fuel than your body needs and it is efficiently storing it away to make sure you won’t die during those times when you may not find food. The body has not yet adapted to sedentary lifestyles and always having food somewhere nearby.

Find out how much fuel your body needs (how much gas your tank can hold and may burn on a daily basis) and eat it. Here’s a calorie calculator to play with that I found online. There are others, so feel free to play with them all.

Here are some final thoughts while you are changing your relationship with food. No one is perfect. You will mess up. Everyone does at some point. Several times, in fact. Don’t kick yourself. Just do your best to truly do better. And don’t get stuck in “I’ll do better tomorrow” land. “Tomorrow” literally never comes. When it’s here, it’s “today.” So do your best to do what you need to do today and tomorrow will continue to look a lot better.