iamom: (Default)
My mind is currently being blown by this book. It concerns the science of human appetite and the biological reasons why we overeat. I'm only at the end of Ch 1, but the way he describes how the trifecta of fat, sugar and salt screw up our brain's reward mechanisms and make us crave those foods, then overindulge in them once we get them is fascinating. He also describes how the first epidemiological studies in the early 90s first identified that obesity rates were climbing, and what a huge deal it was to confirm that fact scientifically because humans have basically had stable weights for thousands of years. What began in the 70s and 80s with the burgeoning of commercial fast food and the corporate processed food supply chain appear to have led directly to our currently skyrocketing obesity rates.

In a Food, Inc. kind of way, the author also describes a meeting with a food industry insider who admitted off the record that commercial food scientists make specific, targeted efforts at creating the most perfect mix of fat, sugar and salt that seems to make people become addicted to the stuff. I find this terribly enlightening and I look forward to the dietary recommendations the author lays out later in the book. I suspect that they'll be common sense, like Michael Pollan's edict, eat food, not too much, mostly plants, but there's something very compelling and reasonable about the way Kessler writes about this topic that might resonate more strongly with me.

He's also a former fatty, which makes his message ring that much truer.
iamom: (iam)
1. Eat when you're hungry. Or more specifically, eat when your body is hungry.

2. Eat what your body (as opposed to your mind) wants.

3. Stop eating when your body has had enough. (My addition: if you're bingeing, stop eating when your mind has had enough, a.k.a. when you become consciously aware that you're bingeing.)

4. Eat sitting down, in a calm environment. This most emphatically does not include the car (my personal favourite eating place).

5. Eat without distractions. Distractions include reading material of any kind, radio, TV, anxiety-producing conversations, or loud music.

6. Eat with the intention of being in full view of other people. To illustrate this guideline, if you're eating and someone walks into the room while you're eating, you don't hide the food.

7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto, and pleasure.
I'm currently listening to the fantastic audio lecture series When Food Is Food And Love Is Love by Geneen Roth, which is in part based on her book Breaking Free From Emotional Eating (for more info, please see Roth's search results on amazon.ca or amazon.com). One of the most important things she discusses in this audio series is that these guidelines are an end in themselves; that there is no 'program' you can follow aside from these guidelines that won't end at some point and then leave you back where you started, eating-wise.

Having been a yo-yo dieter for the past 15 years or so, I recognize the validity of what she's saying. Having gained more weight in the past 2 years has also reminded me painfully of that fact: no matter what diet I go on -- presuming I'm successful at following it -- once the diet is over, I eventually migrate back to my regular eating habits and begin to put on more weight. It's a classic vicious circle.

What I like about Geneen's eating guidelines is that, provided you're prepared to do some objective and accurate witnessing of your own eating habits, they represent a way to slowly but surely break apart the incestuous and non-nutritive relationship I have always had with food. And her last guideline is the one that makes it all worthwhile, because it doesn't take away the pleasure of eating, which has also always been a big part of my life.

Accompanying these guidelines is a fair bit of coverage on the emotional reasons for why we eat when we're not hungry, and she does a good job of helping you try to figure out what those are and move past them. Now let's face it, the most people are overweight or obese is precisely because we're eating when we're not hungry, and it's not easy to look within to identify why we're doing that. But there's a huge benefit to doing it: as soon as you start to shed light on the very fact that you're eating when you're not hungry, you start to make progress. And each and every meal or bite that you take while seated, while quiet, and while calm is one which moves you directly towards attaining your natural, healthy body weight.

Another really positive thing about these guidelines is that they don't require you to follow any sort of eating plan. The content of your meals is totally up to you. So long as you follow the guidelines, you cannot help but restore your natural weight. But despite the simplicity of the guidelines, I recognize that they're also difficult. And you kind of need to be following most of them most of the time to see any results. But I believe that if I'm mindful of the guidelines each day (I have them memorized now and try to think of them before each meal) then I'll slowly start getting better at making them a regular part of my lifestyle. It will happen, if I stay focused and don't get too judgmental.
iamom: (pink)
These are my reading notes from Chapter 2 of Geneen Roth's Breaking Free From Compulsive Eating. My notes from Chapter 1 are here.

To recap, Chapter 1 advised us to eat when we're hungry. But that wasn't instruction to gorge ourselves on crazy food all the time; instead, it was instruction to learn how to recognize our body's authentic signs of hunger, and to learn how to eat with the intent of satisfying that bodily hunger (as opposed to all the emotional and other motivations we have for eating).

Chapter 2 deals with deciding what you actually want to eat, the underlying logic being that if we eat what we truly want to eat, then we're more apt to be satisfied and less inspired to overeat. Just like Chapter 1, this chapter is full of deep insight.

Roth begins by acknowledging that for compulsive eaters, it's scary to think about giving ourselves license to eat what we want because we think we want so much. We think that if we eat what we want, we'll never stop eating and become even more obese. She tells us that in the beginning of this exercise, we likely will eat too much. But once we start to figure out exactly what it is that we want to eat (and also how to eat when we're hungry and how to stop eating when we're full), then we'll naturally start wanting to eat healthier foods in healthier quantities. I'm convinced that this is true.

She also discusses the emotional reasons why we eat, and how the effects of lifelong dieting and depriving ourselves in order to lose weight have skewed our food outlook on the world. She confesses that she has really never felt like a normal person who could walk up to the counter and ask for an ice cream cone without feeling horribly guilty that she was falling off the wagon again. And she notes the effect this has on us emotionally. From page 20:
I could eat from morning till night for the next six months and I would have still dieted and binged for seventeen years of my life. There isn't enough food in the world to heal the isolation of those years. There isn't enough food to fill the space created by the deprivation and the ensuing feelings of craziness. We can't go back. We can't eat for all the times we didn't eat. We can use that pain as an indicator of what doesn't work. We don't have to deprive ourselves any longer. Beginning today.
Read more... )
The gist of what she's saying is that if we learn to trust our own true inner voice about our hunger and what we want to eat, then we'll naturally start choosing normal foods to eat in normal quantities. But compulsive eaters (and frequent dieters) are so out of touch with what they want to eat at any given time that they're usually eating too much, too often. Learning to listen to that true inner voice will fix that tendency. But we have to learn how to trust it.
As long as there are foods you feel you shouldn't eat, you create struggle and conflict. As long as there is struggle, there is bingeing. And as long as there is bingeing, there is fear about eating what you want.

When you let go of the struggle by allowing yourself choice about what you eat, you let go of one end of the rope on which you have been tugging and straining. When you let go of your side, the rope immediately falls to the ground. When you decide that you will listen to yourself and not to your calorie-counter or your fears, there is nothing to rebel against. There is nothing you can't have tomorrow so there is no reason to eat it all today.

When you eat what you want, when you drop the rope and end the struggle between right foods and wrong foods, you will eventually (after your first tendency to eat more than you truly want) consume fewer calories than you did when you were guided by caloric content.
Roth goes on from here to discuss various logistical concerns with eating out and such, as well as more of the emotional underpinnings of the issue -- especially those related to your own expectations and personal outlook on life.
Whenever you notice yourself planning meals around what you should or shouldn't eat, or even around what you might want to eat, you are creating a set of expectations for yourself, which, if you don't meet them, will evoke the familiar feeling of weight-related failure.

As compulsive eaters, we spend our lives forsaking all the moments of satisfaction for a future moment when we will be thin and the deprivation will have paid off. And if and when that moment does come, we are so worried about gaining weight that we focus our attention once more on the future and do not take pleasure in the present.

Breaking free from compulsive eating is also breaking free from preoccupation with the future.
When one women in her workshop asked, "Isn't eating sugar all the time terrible for you?" Roth responds,
Yes. And no. Eating salads and vegetables under restraint and bingeing on sugar whenever you have the chance is not particularly healthy. Sneaking, hiding, or lying about food is not healthy. Punishing yourself is not healthy.
Hear hear, sista. The next chapter is called Distracted Eating: It Doesn't Count If You're Not Sitting Down. Can't wait to read it.
iamom: (pink)
There's this fat guy named Steve Vaught who is walking across the country right now in an effort to lose weight and develop a healthier lifestyle. He's chronicling his adventures on his blog at FatManWalking.com, and a recent entry of his contained a large portion size of wisdom. I can't link to it directly because his blog is kind of messed up technically, but the entry I'm writing about today is about motivation on 03 22 06 on this page.

From browsing his site, I've learned that after completing two-thirds of his trip (several thousand miles!) he still hadn't reached his target weight. It was bothering him and he didn't understand why he wasn't succeeding. He ended up deciding that he was still eating too badly to lose weight, and that made him take a break from his walk and re-evaluate what he was doing. Some of his insights line up pretty closely with the ones I've been developing lately about this. Things like leaving aside the guilt, stop beating yourself up over bad food or exercise choices from one day to the next, etc.
There is no elusive motivation that once possessed will whisk you into a supermodel body, there is only you and your desire to be happy. The fact that you want something to fix you is the best indication that what needs fixing is you.  Logically you know what the answer is, eat less, eat better and move around once in a while. (Or walk across the country.--ed.)
Vaught says that we all have different justifications and motivations for our bad lifestyle choices, and that we all have our own ways of convincing ourselves that we are "powerless against this 'disease'." He gives us a reality check: You are the problem! You overindulge and have done so for quite some time. Now you need to work to reverse that bad behavior which by now is probably habit. You need to get over yourself and simply go and do something.Vaught:
Once you stop setting yourself up for failure you will release yourself from the cycle of guilt, self-loathing and desire for comfort, then you will start to see that you have to take the good with the bad. In releasing the cycle of weightloss/weightgain and accept the successes with the failure as the big picture you will find that you have all the power and do not need to find motivation, it comes naturally. You are not trying to get happy by losing weight; you are trying to get healthy by losing weight. Happiness should be an element in your life regardless. Once you take the power away from the weight you will feel a burden lifted from you shoulders, start to feel happy and stop punishing yourself and ultimately losing weight will become natural. Cure the mind and the ass will follow.
He discusses a "one day at a time" approach that works for me. I think of this as a sort of continuum of eating and exercise, wherein sometimes good choices are made and sometimes bad choices are made, but ultimately, over time, more good than bad choices get made and you become tangibly healthier. Vaught:
Try your best everyday, make little reminders in your routine to point you in the right direction, It is not the weight that holds you captive or even the food, instead it is the inner conflict about failing to control oneself that keeps you from being successful.
Later on, he came up with a list of specific behaviours he is finding useful. I don't disagree with them. They are (with my paraphrasing):

1. Portion control. To lose weight, you must consume less than you burn in physical activity. To maintain a healthy weight, you must consume the same amount that you burn. It's common sense, and it's true.

2. Variety. Our bodies need a mixture of sugar, salt, fat, protein, everything. But overweight people need it in smaller amounts. Expanding your habits to include multiple food choices is beneficial. Overindulging in any one food is bad, but so is avoiding any one food.

3. Nutrition. Vaught: Once you eat less and learn to feel real hunger and then you have mixed it up and are not in food ruts, then you are ready to start choosing good food over bad. If it is modified, sugar or caffeine or whatever-free dump it. Now you want to eat natural whole foods over processed. If the food does not have a naturally occurring color – then pass.

4. Exercise. After finding that healthier eating habits are starting to take root, you'll find that you naturally want to become more active. It almost happens of its own accord. And even if it's something as simple as walking, that's enough. You can lose weight just by walking!

5. Your mind. Vaught: This effort will fail miserably if you start to beat yourself up over transgressions. You will have good days and bad days. Individually they do not matter. Success is a lifetime thing not a daily. If you are not accepting your weakness then you are not accepting that you are human and that is why you are struggling in the first place.
iamom: (lookingup)
On the advice of a trusted advisor, I'm reading Geneen Roth's book Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating (author on google | book on amazon.com | amazon.ca). Unlike many non-fiction books I've read lately, I find it difficult to read this one quickly. It's because there's so much insight on every page it warrants a slower read.

Admittedly, the book's not for everybody. For example, anyone who makes it a scarce habit to eat for any other reason than being hungry wouldn't get much from it. But anyone who has observed in themselves the propensity to eat too much or too often and always for some other reason than being hungry (or for no reason at all) would find wisdom in these pages. I know that I have.

My reading notes from Chapter 1, which deals mainly with the concept of hunger, are below. Material quoted directly is italicized with page number references or else set apart in a citation blockquote (w/blue sideline).
The first step in breaking free from compulsive eating is to eat when you are hungry (page 6). In recent memory, I recall eating mainly without any regard for my actual level of physical hunger at the time. The mere evaluation of how hungry I might be at any given meal time is practically an alien concept to me.

The fear of hunger, like the fear of loneliness, seems to be connected with emptiness, echoes, endless wanting (page 7). I don't think I have a fear of my own hunger per se; more to the point, I'm not even aware of what my own level of hunger is at any given time.

Beginner's exercises.
Keep a log of what you ate, when you ate it, and if you were hungry when you ate (page 8).Log your feelings about eating as you go. Watch for: forgetting to log meals you ate when you weren't hungry; forgetting to log 'bad' meals, random snacks, or binges; excessive self-judgment or congratulation for 'bad' or 'good' eating. Ask yourself: how often do you eat when you are hungry? Can you recognize your own signs of physical hunger?

Don't eat at your regular meal times for a day or two (or longer) to help get in touch with your hunger (page 9). Observe if you anticipate your hunger or if you want to be hungry before you actually become hungry. Note: This exercise may require some advance planning so that you're sure to have food on hand when you are actually hungry (i.e. you may not feel like eating at your regular meal times).

Pay attention to the bodily sensations that you recognize as hunger (page 9). When you feel hunger coming on, stop what you're doing and observe it fully. Where do you feel it in your body? What does it feel like? What happens to you when you feel yourself getting hungry? What do you do, and what do you want to do, when you feel hunger?

When you've decided that you are hungry, rate your hunger objectively on a scale from 1 to 10 (page 10). This will give you an objective way to assess your current level of hunger, and over time, to compare it with past levels of hunger. Until now, we have probably been overlaying a lot of subjective criteria on our perceived hunger levels; using the 10-point scale helps us to unravel that a little.

When you are not hungry and decide to eat, choose a food that you ate that day when you were hungry (page 10). Whoa, this one is heavy. Deserves its own chapter: when you are not hungry and decide to eat? Isn't that like most of the time? In this situation, she goes on to ask us to be aware of:
   -- how the food tastes
   -- how the taste was different when you were hungry
   -- if you enjoy it as much as when you were hungry
   -- what, since it's not hunger, you are feeling
   -- how you know when to stop eating

Common themes, questions and fears.
   If I eat when I'm hungry, I'll eat all the time.
   If I eat when I'm hungry, I'll gain 50 pounds and nobody will love me.
   Your body gets hungry. When you feed it, it gets satisfied. There is no magic about it. It might take a while to sift through the various sensations you feel and distringuish hunger from sadness or loneliness, but that's because you're not used to recognizing hunger -- and not because your body doesn't feel it or because your hunger, if you let yourself recognize it, would be insatiable. No on has to tell you when to eat; your body will tell you. No on can tell you when to eat; they aren't in touch with your stomach. And if you are listening to your body to tell you when to eat, you can also hear it saying "enough."
   If I only eat when I'm hungry, I won't be able to eat as much as I want or when I want it. That's true. But the amount that you want is often not as much as your body wants.
   Ask yourself: What is it that you want from food beyond its nourishing your body?
   Ask yourself: Do you want to eat as much as you want more than you want to change how you deal with food and feel about your body?
   When I'm not hungry and good food is around, I feel that I'm missing something very special if I don't eat. When you are not hungry and good food is around, what you do miss by eating is the chance to take care of yourself, to see that the world won't end if you don't eat the cheesecake. You miss the chance not to get sick, to be so full you can't sleep, and to wake up in the morning wishing the night had never happened. When you are not hungry enough to begin eating or too full to continue, you miss the taste of food anyway.
   I'm afraid to let myself get hungry; I feel so empty. The sensation of hunger is sometimes accompanied by a corresponding physical sensation of emptiness and hollowness; as such, it can sometimes evoke the emotion of hunger too. When physical hunger activates our yearning or aching, we feel frightened and want to push it away. Often we push it away and repress that feeling by eating.
Closing words from Chapter 1.
Physical hunger is of the body. Physical hunger asks for food. Nonphysical hunger is of the mind, the heart. When you see that your physical hunger is capable of being fulfilled, you can begin to allow that same possibility for your emotional hunger.

When you don't allow yourself hunger, you don't allow yourself satisfaction.
iamom: (lookingup)
The Body-For-Life (BFL) 12-Week Fitness Challenge is a comprehensive healthy eating and exercise plan developed by the American bodybuilder and entrepreneur Bill Phillips.

This article and interview by Outside magazine on Bill Phillips provides some interesting background about the man. Per the article, Phillips first cut his writing chops in the mid 80s while he was in his early 20s with a self-published monthly newsletter called The Anabolic Update. Phillips makes no bones about the steroid use he practiced during his professional bodybuilding career, and went on to publish a more technical manual for hardcore lifters in 1991 called Anabolic Reference Guide. In 1992 he transformed his monthly newsletter into a full-colour glossy called Muscle Media 2000. It was this publication which served as the springboard for Phillips' first Body-for-Life 12-Week Fitness Challenge in 1997 (here is the winners list for that inaugural 1997 BFL Challenge; list of other years can be found here -- lots of incredible before-and-after shots on those pages).

Phillips has produced a full-length documentary film about this first country-wide call for transformative amateur bodybuilders. Called Body of Work, it's available for no cost through his website provided that you make a donation to the Children's Wish Foundation. It also features a series of Survivor-style cinematography and interviewing styles, and in point of fact, Survivor 9 (Vanuatu) star Ami Cusack was an employee of Phillips' company at that time. Cusack, who's a gorgeous pearl of a woman in the Phillips documentary, was featured in several interview spots throughout the video and also happened to be dating Bill Phillips around the same time of shooting. I wonder if Phillips followed Survivor 9 avidly. I would have, were I him. (This Google search on Ami Cusack also yields some interesting results.)

Eating plan. This aspect of Body-for-Life is based on a back-to-basics diet commonly used by bodybuilders while preparing for a competition or photo shoot. It's comprised of six small, nutritious, evenly-spaced meals each day, where each meal is comprised of a single serving of protein and a single serving of carbs, and at least two meals have a serving of fruits and/or vegetables. There is an approved eating list that essentially rules out foods high in sugar, fat and calories, leaving behind nutritious foods like white chicken and turkey meat, lean beef and pork, legumes, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, and whole-grain breads, pasta and rice. Particular attention is paid to portion sizes, wherein a portion of any food except vegetables cannot be larger than the palm of your own hand or the volume of your own clenched fist. This usually results in meat serving sizes of 3-6 ounces and carb serving sizes of 2/3 to 3/4 of a cup.

Exercise plan. It's pretty simple: you work out six days a week, alternating between cardio, upper body, cardio, and lower body. The end result is that you get 2-3 cardio workouts each week (20 min each) and 2-3 weightlifting workouts each week (40-50 min each). All the workouts are based on an interval training model, wherein you perform repeated sets (usually 5-6) of cardio or weightlifting exercises with increasing intensity for each set. Exercise goals are to go to failure on the final set, with the intent of working to total exhaustion for each muscle group in every workout. This results in a sliding scale depending on the fitness level of each person, and as one progresses through the 12-week challenge, one cannot fail to notice improvements to one's own capacity and performance (some examples include: regular increases to the amount of weight one can lift each week; improvement to one's cardiovascular strength and endurance; and/or a decrease in bodyfat percentage and overall body weight).

Mental preparation. An essential pre-requisite to the plan involves mental preparation exercises -- what Phillips calls mindset exercises. He recommends that you keep a written journal of your progress and that you plan each of your meals and workouts ahead of time. Before starting the challenge, you're also asked to think about what your wildest dreams are regarding your ideal body (i.e. your Body For Life); you're asked to identify the reasons why you want to do this challenge, and you're asked to set five specific, measureable goals that you will attain by the end of the 12-week challenge. By reviewing your goals, dreams and reasons for undertaking the challenge each day, you reinforce your resolve to stay on track with the program.

Absolutely anybody, regardless of age or physical condition or starting weight can complete this program and achieve positive results. The most inspiring stories for me are those with people who have completed 3-4 consecutive challenges and dropped over 100 pounds of fat in the process. Ultimate success in the program comes from mastery of the physical exercises AND the eating plan in full concert with one another. For many obese people, following the BFL eating plan will be the most difficult part. But for anyone trying to start or follow the program, there is a wealth of online resources for additional BFL information and support. In fact, I don't find BFL, and the community of hardcore practitioners of the BFL lifestyle, to be dissimilar to a 12-Step Program. It's just one that provides for people who are addicted to eating and slow behaviour patterns.
iamom: (steady)
It's no secret to those who know me that I've always struggled with my weight. It's true that I'm not an inherently good exerciser, but I think that the real source of my weight problems can be found in my unhealthy relationship with food. Since my early teen years I've used food as anything but a normal source of physical nourishment: it has been an emotional comfort to me, a distraction from boredom, or a savoury overindulgence for its own gustatory pleasure.

There are probably countless reasons why I'm like this. My wife once pointed out (probably correctly) that I substituted food for emotional support and comfort at an early age when I felt neglected and unsupported in an abusive family situation. But admittedly, I also just genuinely love food (you with me, [livejournal.com profile] wickenden?): I love preparing it, I love its smells, its textures, and its tastes. I don't think I'm obsessed with it per se, but I certainly think about it a lot and I often find myself reflecting on what my next meal will be.

Despite many successful attempts at losing weight by various means, I still haven't developed the right attitude toward food that has allowed me to reach and maintain a healthy body weight for the long term. I actually spend a fair bit of time thinking about why this is so, and I often come up with various reasons or strategies that I think will work "the next time." But it seems that no matter how good my intentions are at the outset of a new commitment to lose weight, I falter over time and start giving in to my cravings and lack of restraint. I've been particularly bad with that in the past six months, for whatever reason.

Having said that, I've been noticing some honest changes in myself recently. They seem to coincide with my having started a regular meditation practice, and I think that this practice has helped me to develop a more genuine mindfulness about my state of mind regarding food and my physical health. I've been making better choices about my food and my exercise lately, but for vastly different reasons than before: instead of not overeating because I'm scared of gaining weight, I'm not overeating because I'm paying attention to whether or not I'm actually hungry. Instead of exercising because I'm trying to lose weight, I'm becoming more active because it makes me feel stronger and more flexible. That kind of thing.

A good book I'm reading right now called The Zen of Eating by Ronna Kabatznick (I can't believe that book title hadn't been taken already) is underlining many aspects of this change in me. Here's a relevant quote from page 100:
...when the purpose of restraint relates only to weight loss, you're motivated by tanha, a confused desire that has no relationship to changing or improving your life in a larger context. The control of food for your own sake is ultimately less satisfying and a less powerful motive than the control of food that links you to sources of meaning in life.
Bingo. Stop dieting because you feel you have to; start eating healthfully and mindfully because it's the most natural way to be. I can dig it. And it totally removes the sense of guilt you get when you're trying to be good all the time and then you screw up sometimes. If you're working on an overall healthier lifestyle instead of trying to adhere to a strict diet, then you're not putting nearly as much pressure on yourself and you don't feel the need to beat yourself up if you mess up sometimes. A far friendlier approach to yourself, and I suspect a more effective one over the long term.

So, talk to me in a year to see how I'm doing. That's about how long I figure it'll take to get within spitting distance of that mysterious "target weight" I'm looking for.
iamom: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] maqtul replied to a comment I made somewhere which I've always kept and which I just re-read for the first time in many months. In response to my query for practical suggestions about weight loss, his message reads:
Here is the way I am doing it. With some help and encouragement from [livejournal.com profile] sariane, I have returned to a mostly-raw foods way of eating, which I was very much into in the early to mid-90s but back-slid from. Keeping it mostly raw without being a zealot about it is what makes it easier to stick to. Sure I make exceptions for the occasional piece of pie or cooked thing, but making raw and whole foods the central thing keeps it mostly that way, and this is what makes all the difference.

The most important thing is that dinner is rather early, and the bulk of it is a big tasty very filling salad, with lots of organic greens, veggies, herbs, spices, olives, olive oil and lemon juice, etc. Not grim "rabbit food" at all. Really flavorsome, with a lot of yummy ingredients. But nothing is cooked, and dinner includes no carbs. That means no pasta, no bread, no rice, no potatoes, no starches of any kind. It is not raw fats such as oils and nuts and olives that cause weight gain, it is dairy and starch. If you absolutely crave those things, eat them early in the day. Dinner should be lots of fresh and raw veggies. Even "fatty" things like avocadoes and olives and nuts are fine. Eating like that, with no midnight binges, and staying away from beer or sodas, it should be rather easy to shed pounds.

I know that metabolism slows down after about age 30 or so, and many offer this as the excuse for adulthood weight gain. I myself experienced this problem. I am 35 and I realize that I cannot eat like I could at age 20, when a pint of ice cream and a whole pizza seemed like a reasonable meal. I have stopped consuming many things I used to crave madly, but there are still many things I can eat so I don't feel like I'm missing out on a lot. Now I occasionally crave potato chips and M&Ms, which I deal with by giving in, but only in strict moderation.

Part of eating mindfully is having a hand in the preparation of food. Prepared, processed foods have a way of sneaking from the bag into ones mouth with little intervention from consciousness. But if you have to peel, slice, mix, chop etc every time you want to eat something, there is premeditation and awareness going on. And even when compared to "convenient" raw foods, it is much easier to thoughtlessly eat a huge bag of chips than a whole bunch of bananas.

But suppose you don't want to give up cooked and snack foods. There is still a way to eat it mindfully. First, never eat anything straight out of a bag or package. If you have chips, put a handful into a bowl and go sit and eat them as you would a meal, with the thought that this is your ration of chips and you won't get seconds, so enjoy them while you can. Sure, that would be a test of will, but habits generally change by being gradually overwritten by new habits.

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Dustin LindenSmith

January 2013

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