From skwigg's journal:
Last night I listened to Food Psych #74 podcast with Christy Harrison and Isabel Foxen Duke. There were so many interesting things about the conversation. I was sort of wishing I'd taken notes so I could remember everything I wanted to mention, but then I was glad I didn't try to take notes because I'd have ended up transcribing the whole hour and twenty minutes.
Ideas that jumped out at me, not necessarily because I agree but because they made me think:
Emotional eating is a relatively new concept. Until someone put a label on it and deemed it bad, it was just eating.
People who define themselves as emotional eaters are by definition restrained eaters. Without guilt, diet mentality, and the idea you shouldn't be doing this, it's just eating, not a flaw or a problem to be solved.
Research shows that it doesn't occur to non-restrained eaters to numb emotions with food. Food as a coping mechanism only presents when food has been restricted, scarce, or tied up with a lot of judgment. "Normal" eaters tend to lose their appetite when angry or stressed.
The need to control food, once addressed, will often transfer over into the need to control something else like work or relationships. This very human tendency means it's a lifelong process. You realize when your brain is grasping for control and to choose surrender and trust instead of managing the crap out of everything. This conversation reminded me of Georgie's "brains don't like uncertainty." Maybe you can give your brain some reassurance, or step back from its panic signals, without making the spreadsheet, downloading the software, or writing a list of demands.
Then the big concept that I'm still mulling over is the idea that you will never find peace with food as long as you're trying to lose weight. This one used to make me genuinely angry! I was very threatened by it for some reason and wanted to argue, maybe because I so wanted to lose weight. They're basically saying that as long as a diet mentality is driving the bus, the bus will be headed off a cliff. I can agree in that I've seen how restriction and guilt is what drives food craziness, no question. But then I think about the non-diet dietitians, or people like Georgie who emphasize habits, self-care, and eating to feel good. In my mind, that is not a diet mentality even if it does result in weight loss. Weight loss is not the primary objective. Maybe. I also get that lifelong dieters can make weight loss the primary objective in any situation. That's why IFD jokes about her "I will not emotionally overeat diet" or her "loving myself to lose weight diet." Every intuitive / non-diet / self-care thing she attempted was clouded by her expectation that it would result in weight loss. Nothing worked to eliminate food craziness and produce lasting peace until she let go of the idea that she could or should lose weight. Again, with binge recovery, I totally get this. You can't hold weight loss and stopping binge eating as simultaneous goals because one fuels the other. Once the binge eating is under control, then you can focus on weight loss. Maybe. No? Aagh! That puts you right back in the crazy! The alternative would be to (continue to) focus on habits, self-care, and feeling great, which might lead to weight loss, or at least to body peace, which is what everyone is hoping to achieve through weight loss.
Such juicy topics! What's interesting to me is that, having now lost ALL interest in monitoring my food or weight, I'm happier than I've ever been, happier with my body, happier with the way I eat, less stressed, more confident. This makes me think that an emphasis on weight loss or controlling weight WAS still holding me back, even when I would have sworn it wasn't. I had to get to the other side in order to look back and see that clearly.
Anyway, this makes me want to listen to a whole bunch more Food Psych podcasts. I'm eager to hear more and different perspectives on these topics. What do you guys think about any of those statements. Do any of them stand out? Or cause you to nod in agreement? Or make you mad?
From skwigg's journal:
"I have only listened to one Food Psych episode but I have a hard time letting go of weight loss. Listening to it makes me feel guilty for stepping on the scale and eating right hoping to lose weight longterm."
Instead of "guilty" and "right" (diet language) maybe think in terms of "what I want" and "taking care of myself." If you want to be fit and healthy and eat well for the purpose of being awesome, certainly you can do that! It's less fraught thinking good/bad, right/wrong, on/off a weight loss diet, even if easily maintaining a lower weight is your intention.
It also helps to remember that everything is as it should be. In other words, we're right where we need to be on the journey, experiencing what we need to experience and learning what we need to learn in order to be our best and happiest. Look at how long I counted calories and logged food. Decades! Or how I continued to weigh myself daily, years after starting Happy Eaters. I still felt like I needed it. I didn't beat myself up for still finding it helpful and reassuring. It genuinely was! Until one day it wasn't. I think most of us tend not to change until our comfort zone becomes uncomfortable; then it makes sense.
Wherever you are right now is GREAT. You have every right to be there and feel that way, no guilt, and no pressure to change something that's working for you.
From skwigg's journal:
The latest is Food Psych #76 "Healthy" Eating Versus Competent Eating with Dana Sturtevant.
Competent eaters successfully navigate food situations. They self-regulate. You want to raise children to be competent eaters not "healthy" eaters because then there is nothing to rebel against or go off of when they're not under your control, like going off to college.
With intuitive eating, there's nothing to fail at or cheat on or ruin on vacation. You think in terms of: What sounds good? What looks good? How hungry am I? All food is always on the table whether at home or away so there's no incentive to go nuts.
On navigating the line between health/ethics/self-care and orthorexia: you know your food decisions are coming from a rooted, connected place when there's no "look at me," no pumped up sense of self. If you chose a salad over french fries it's because you want the salad, not because you're being good or feeling superior. And the opposite is true. If you choose the fries, there's no guilt or shame, no worrying about what other people think.
When friends talk about their diets constantly, it's because they're restricting, which makes them very preoccupied with food. Duh! But I'd never put together that it was biological for them too and not everyone trying to annoy me.
You know you're in a good place when you're able to stand your ground with your food choices. You don't puff up and make a statement or shrink and blend in based on what others are eating or what they may think. You eat what you actually want without needing to apologize or justify your choices. You don't shapeshift based on the audience.
Interesting question when struggling with food choices: If you could eat anything right now without it affecting your weight, your health, or your reputation, what would you want? It's a way to see where fears or image concerns might be influencing your decisions and making them less authentic.
People who have a public food front have more issues with bingeing and secretive eating when alone. This reminded me of how crazed I used to feel as a Body for Lifer and fitness blogger. I'd been recognized in the grocery store before (?!) and it made me extra paranoid about what I was putting in my cart. I'm sure I ate more and worse when alone or on "cheat" days than if I hadn't been feeling pressure to adhere to whatever public diet scheme I had declared I was on. Now that there is no diet, I eat in a similar way when alone and with others, at home and out, weekdays and weekends. It's just the way I eat. I guess I still have a slightly public image as a "happy eater" but there's no restriction involved, so no backlash.
"We all knew that diets didn't work but we didn't believe we were promoting dieting." Mindful/intuitive eating programs that promote weight loss are colluding with diet culture. If you're promoting anything as a path to weight loss, your clients are dieting. The only way to move away from diet culture and find food peace is to put the pursuit of weight loss on the back burner. (This concept still sort of bugs me, but nothing like it once did. I'm coming around as I experience it myself.)
"It's not possible to heal a relationship with food and body while trying to control the size and shape of your body." (More squirming, but general agreement.)
Diets are not going to produce the weight loss you seek and they're also not going to heal your relationship with food.
We hold up restriction while pathologizing overeating. "The Joy of Half a Cookie". Why not "The Joy of 4 Cookies" or "The Joy of a Bag of Cookies."
Thinking you should be dieting is as problematic as actually doing it in terms of deprivation and reactive eating.
There's a difference between full and satisfied. Full alone doesn't cut it. You can stuff your stomach full of vegetables and fiber and not be the least bit satisfied.
Who are your unteachers? We have as much to unlearn as we do to learn.
From skwigg's journal:
Oh! Interesting thoughts from Food Psych #36. They're talking about binge eating and emotional eating. IFD says the binge eating stopped when she gave up trying trying to lose weight. She had been through rehab, outpatient treatment, Overeaters Anonymous, intuitive eating, and was still binging her face off the whole way. She finally became so frustrated with trying to control her food and nothing working that she said, "Screw it. Nothing works. I'm going to eat whatever I want and not worry about it." That worked! That's when the binges completely stopped. The interesting part though was that she said she continued to eat emotionally because it takes time to develop other coping mechanisms. She said they only develop (as in become more reliable and effective than food) when you're no longer trying to control your food for the purpose of weight loss. As long as you're mentally or physically restricting, food will remain the most appealing go-to.
Is that true? I don't know, but it has me thinking really hard. :-) I wanted to post it before I lost the thought.
From skwigg's journal:
That reminds me of the next Food Psych Podcast I listened to, #36, also with IFD. They were talking about how nobody wants a thinner body in a vacuum, as in being alone and weighing less. People want thinness as a social currency. We want to be loved, accepted, respected, admired. Totally natural! But our warped culture sells thinness as THE answer. Like if you could just undereat enough, you'd have the life of your dreams. That's the fantasy anyway. It's very problematic and destructive. It's also why dieting becomes so addictive. It gets all tangled up with identity and social status. People aren't willing to let go of the dream, at least until they wake up enough to question whether the whole thing is a crock.
Great turnaround on emotional NOT eating. It does seem pretty arbitrary. That reminds me of (in #36) where they talk about health being what matters, how you treat yourself. There isn't healthy or unhealthy weight, only healthy and unhealthy behaviors and attitudes. If someone is extremely underweight due to severe restriction, or extremely overweight due to drinking corn syrup all day, it's the underlying behaviors that make them unhealthy, not the scale number. Weight is correlated but it's not the cause. The example they give is if a smoker has both yellow teeth and lung disease, and a doctor recommends tooth-whitening as a treatment. This is what happens when an overweight person goes to the doctor with a legitimate injury or disease and is told to lose weight. Maybe they're already healthy and and active and broke a foot playing volleyball. Maybe their habits are fine. Making the appointment all about weight instead of the sprain/break is the equivalent of tooth whitening for lung disease. It misses the point, which is the big picture of how our habits affect overall health.
Emotional eating (or not eating) could be healthy or unhealthy. It depends on the context. It seems like not eating is generally rewarded and eating is generally questioned, if not actually punished. Maybe that's a result of all the social and cultural goo that goes with it.
So much to think about!