Q: I feel like I do not know what to eat to lose weight, so I skip or lessen my intake. I know this is counterproductive. How do I break this bad thinking/behavior to have a healthy-successful-leaner life?
A: What this sounds like, to me, is a general fear of food because of what it’s done to you. It’s a pretty disordered understanding of eating, because eating is your primary form of nourishment. It’s how you cleanse your body, care for your body, love your body. A fear of the very thing that sustains you because of weight… it actually saddens me. I understand it, but it saddens me.
Did I fear food? I don’t know. If I was conscious when I was eating – as opposed to mindlessly eating like a zombie – then I did feel something about it. I almost felt guilty eating, and felt like I shouldn’t be eating until I lost weight (and considering how much weight I would’ve needed to lose, I might’ve never been able to eat again.) Was that borne of fear of food? Perhaps.
To be honest, I had a lot of disordered understandings when it came to food and really, I’d stand to reason that a lot of women do. Just because, in the interest of marketing a product, we’re always being beaten over the head with messages that we’re imperfect and we accept that it has to do with the food. So, in turn, instead of changing the food we eat, we blame the quantity of food we eat… and that somehow translates into a fear of eating.
It’s strange and doesn’t feel logical to me now, but I get it. And it’s hard to embrace any kind of eating when you fear food because you believe food makes you “fat.” If being “less fat” is the goal, you believe – thanks to marketing and stories of models eating carrots and ice cubes – eating less will get it done.
It’s also a part of the mentality that makes dieting so easy to embrace. We believe that dieting works because dieting helps you “eat less,” especially since those carrot-and-ice-cube-eating-models “eat less” and, well, they’re beautiful.
Damn all that.
I’m human. I like food. I’m wired to like food. I’m also not built to compete with a marketing machine with enough money to chemically engineer food in a way that removes my ability to control myself.
Realizing that was part of what set me free of my fear of food.
I don’t feel fear of food, because I now know that food doesn’t have control over me. I don’t fear food because I now know that food is supposed to be enjoyable – fruits were made sweet to compel us to not only nourish ourselves, but repopulate the Earth with their seeds to grow more fruit. Knowing that makes me comfortable with the idea that I can actually enjoy the flavor of “sweet.” I don’t feel held captive when I’m in the presence of sweets.
So, to put it all bluntly, learning that I could make enjoyable meals with fruits and vegetables (and a little meat) and that these meals resulted in weight loss was so exciting for me that my relationship with food was completely changed. I was too busy trying to learn how to cook and tasting new flavors. Being afraid of food was no longer an issue. I could eat, enjoy life and still maintain my weight.
You kind of have to put faith into it. You just have to. You have to understand that the fruits and vegetables that we grow are the things we’re supposed to eat, and should never be distrusted in a fashion that makes you not want to eat.
And what makes this “counter-productive,” as she called it?
Because stress about the inability to eat is the only source of stress for man, his body became used to the eventual chain of events. His body knows: Lots of stress = lack of food coming in. How did his body react? His body decided to hold on to what it had – by way of diminishing the amount of energy his body could exert all at one time, by way of making sure his body took a very long time to lose weight, by way of making sure it held onto every pound and fat cell it could. This bodily reaction would only further compel man to step up his hunting skills… why? Because he didn’t want to feel that way! He didn’t want his family to feel that way! He had to get his caveman hustle on! When man was finally able to tackle that antelope or whatever-what-have-you, the fats and salts in the meat were sooooo satisfying that they would cure man of the bodily reaction to stress.
Even though that post talked mainly about stress, the body’s reaction to “there’s no food coming in” is always the same. It results in weight loss becoming more difficult.
What would I suggest? I’d suggest embracing a lifestyle that consists of primarily fruits and vegetables, with whichever meats you prefer served in portions no larger than the size of your hand. Make yourself nice dishes that taste wonderfully, and keep yourself from feeling too hungry. Pace yourself – don’t expect overnight success – and you will do just fine.
Is there anyone else out there who has felt this way? How are you dealing with it? How did you cope with your fear?