Tag Archive | Diets

Tips for “Normal” Eating

The following information is the best I’ve seen, as a basic model for trying to normalize disordered eating. It is especially geared for those individuals who have been chronic dieters. 

No matter how many years or decades you have overeaten or how many diets have failed you, you still can learn how to become a “normal” eater—eating when you are hungry, choosing satisfying foods, remaining aware while eating and enjoying food, and stopping when you are full or satisfied.

 

Note: You did not fail on these diets. These diets failed you.

To succeed at eating “normally”, you will need to:

  • Focus like a laser on eating “normally”
  • Stay persistent like a dog digging for a bone
  • Not expect overnight success
  • Switch your attention from the scale to your appetite
  • Learn effective life skills to manage stress and internal distress

Disregulated eaters can learn how to eat “normally.” Here are some tips to speed you on your way.

Using self-talk

Learn “normal” eating skills: Look in the mirror daily and tell yourself you can learn the skills of “normal” eating.

Think of foods as nutritional and non-nutritional: Instead of thinking of foods as “good” or “bad,” consider them as nutritional or non-nutritional. “Good” and “bad” are moral terms that are best avoided in the food arena.

Give yourself praise: Do not put yourself down for the mistakes you make with food. Instead, lavishly praise yourself for your successes, even the tiniest ones.

Try a different approach: If experience tells you that diets do not keep your weight off, do not try to convince yourself that you should diet. Instead, give yourself points for trying a different approach.

Become your own cheerleader: Never say anything to yourself that you would not say to a young child you love, including calling yourself stupid, hopeless, bad, a failure, or worthless. Become your own cheerleader by generating positive thoughts about yourself and your progress.

Avoid all-or-nothing thinking: Do not use words like “never” and “always.” Remind yourself that most of life is not black and white, but gray. Think incrementally.

Do not dwell on untrue comments: Detoxify negative things people say about or to you that are untrue, rather than repeating them to yourself. Remember that what people say belongs to them, not to you, even if your name is attached to their words.

Connect to your emotions: Ask yourself often how you are feeling, so you can connect more easily to your emotions, but explore only with curiosity, not condemnation.

Stop judging yourself harshly: Develop self-compassion. Treat yourself lovingly. Practice speaking to yourself with extreme esteem.

Keep a positive attitude: Do not keep telling yourself that learning to become a “normal” eater is hard, because saying so only programs you to find the work more difficult. Instead, substitute words like challenging or doable.

 

Recognizing hunger

Rate your hunger: Check in with yourself often to see how hungry you are by using descriptions such as “not hungry,” “moderate,” “very,” and “famished” or a 1-10 scale.

Evaluate if you are hungry: Every time you think about food, ask yourself if you really are hungry enough to eat or if you actually need something else.

Consider having smaller meals: Experiment with eating smaller meals more frequently.

Think about hunger as a signal: It means that you need fuel, not that you have to go out and seek the most fantastic eating experience of your life.

Know what hunger means: Practice believing that hunger is for fuel and pleasure, not for meeting emotional needs.

 

Choosing satisfying foods

Choose for yourself: Do not get hung up on what other people are eating. Instead, ask yourself what you would like to eat.

Forget about good and bad: Remind yourself that foods fall on a nutritional continuum (high value/low value), not on a moral continuum (good/bad).

Make a satisfying choice: Never eat without first stopping to consider what you want. Spend time making your decision by tuning into your appetite.

Stay clear of guilt or shame: Refrain from allowing guilt or shame to contaminate your eating decisions. Avoid secret eating.

Choose foods that you like: Do not eat foods that you do not find satisfying or enjoyable. Eating them will make you think that you are on a diet.

 

Eating with awareness and enjoyment

Look before you eat: Before you eat, look at your food, its portion size, and presentation. Breathe deeply. Look again before taking a mouthful.

Chew every mouthful thoroughly: Chewing a lot helps to thoroughly release the flavor of foods.

Let food sit on your tongue: This allows your taste buds to absorb the flavor and transmit messages about your appetite to your brain.

Talk or eat: When you are talking, stop eating. When you are eating, stop talking.

Stay connected: Pay attention to your body’s appetite signals while you are eating.

Forget about guilt and shame: Push away guilt and shame while you are eating. Focus only on sensory pleasure.

Pause while you are eating: Think about how you are feeling about your food in terms of quality and quantity.

Know when to stop eating: Stop eating when flavor intensity declines, as it is bound to do. Do not try to polish off all of the food in front of you. Instead, aim for the moment when flavor peaks and you feel an internal “ah” of satisfaction—then stop.

Evaluate how full you are: Keep asking yourself while you are eating, “Am I still hungry?” and “Am I satisfied?”

 

Stopping when you are full or satisfied

Know the definitions: Think of “full” as having enough food (fuel) in your stomach and “satisfied” as reaching thehigh point of pleasure.

Quantify fullness and satisfaction: Use words, such as “nearly full,” “too full,” or “just right,” or a 1-10 scale to rate fullness and satisfaction.

Tell your body: When you feel full or satisfied, focus on that sensation, and broadcast it to your whole body.

Disconnect from food: When you are done eating, put down your utensils, push away your plate, and get up, if possible. At least mentally move on. Do whatever you need to do to disconnect yourself from the food.

Decide when enough is enough: Make sure you do not focus on food that is left in front of you. Recognize that you do not have to finish it or clean your plate.

Changing your beliefs:

 

From: To:
“I need to diet to lose weight.” “Diets do not work long term.”
“This is too hard.” “I can learn to do this over time.”
“This will take too long.” “If I do not change now, I will only end up back in this same place again, so I might as well get going on it.”
“Losing weight is the most important thing.” “I will lose weight if I honor my appetite and learn to eat ‘normally.’”
“I am bad/worthless/ugly if I am overweight.” “I accept my body as it is and still will try to improve it.”

 

Stopping emotional eating

Consider your feelings: If you have the urge to eat when you are not hungry, identify the emotion you are feeling.

Think of a different response: Remind yourself that feelings need an appropriate response—not food.

Know the emotions that trigger unwanted eating: Boredom, loneliness, anxiety, shame, guilt, disappointment, confusion, and helplessness can trigger unwanted eating. Look for more effective ways of dealing with these feelings.

Keep a feelings log: This will help you keep track of what is going on inside of yourself all day long.

Reduce stress: This will lessen frustration, helplessness, and the overwhelmed feeling you sometimes have that may drive you to eat.

Take care of yourself: Make sure you are taking care of yourself (with rest, sleep, hobbies, and fun) at least as well as you take care of others.

Learn from your behavior: If you find yourself eating when you are upset, do not take it out on yourself. Treat yourself with compassion and curiosity. Think about your behavior as a learning experience.

Find help: If you have a history of trauma or abuse, get help through therapy. A strong correlation exists between such a history and emotional eating and weight gain.

Take responsibility for yourself: Do not blame others for your emotional eating. Take accountability for your actions.

Build emotional muscle: Tell yourself that you can bear any emotion and practice doing so. You will find that the emotional muscle you build is amazingly strong and enduring.

 

References and recommended readings

Koenig KR. Nice Girls Finish Fat: Put Yourself First and Change Your Eating Forever.New York,NY: Fireside/Simon and Schuster; 2009.

Koenig KR. The Food and Feelings Workbook: A Full Course Meal on Emotional Health.Carlsbad,CA: Gürze Books; 2007.

Koenig KR. The Rules of “Normal” Eating: A Commonsense Approach for Dieters, Overeaters, Undereaters, Emotional Eaters, and Everyone in Between!Carlsbad,CA: Gürze Books; 2005.

Koenig KR. What Every Therapist Needs to Know About Treating Eating and Weight Issues.New York,NY: WW Norton and Co; 2008.

Contributed by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, MEd

 

 

 

 

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Holiday Cheer

It’s that time of year again when food is the focal point of the holiday and family gatherings are aplenty.  How will you manage the holiday season this year?  Better yet, will you be able to come through the holiday season stronger and healthier than before?

Here are a few points to keep in mind as you join your family for holiday cheer.

  1. Holidays are NOT about the food. This is despite that fact that they seem to be just one big party.  The key word is “seem”.  You need to tap into and find the real meaning of the holiday for YOU!  It may be about vacation, relationships, spirituality, or just all around fun.  Make the real meaning of the holiday your focus and ENJOY!
  2. Holidays are a time to create memories. Make them memories you will want to look back on.  Enjoy the scene of presents piled under a sparkling tree.  Enjoy the bright lights of the menorah.  Enjoy the joyous laughter and the hugs and kisses.  Soak it in by concentrating on the creation of memories that will last a lifetime.  Oh, and take lots of pictures.
  3. Take care of yourself. Excuse yourself when conversations become triggering.  Go to the bathroom and breathe, count to ten.  Prepare a list of reasons why you don’t want to use eating disorder behaviors.  Read it.  Memorize it.
  4. Don’t try to make everyone happy. It’s impossible.  Make sure YOU are happy.  This is difficult to do when you are around family; especially if you are a people pleaser.  Ask yourself if you are helping others at your own expense.  Be extra careful not to make your eating disorder happy.  It’s not worth a dime!  Don’t become your eating disorder’s holiday gift.
  5. Get support! Surround yourself with people that understand and can help you when the going gets rough.  USE your support team.  They are there to help you.

And the most important point of all…HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF!  DON’T GIVE UP!

You can and will get through this holiday season.  It’s a once a year event and no matter what happens things will go back to normal on January 2ndSo sit tight if you must, breathe if you can, and SMILE!

 

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Are You a Casualty of Dieting? Tips for “Normal” Eating

No matter how many years or decades you have overeaten or how many diets have failed you, you still can learn how to become a “normal” eater—eating when you are hungry, choosing satisfying foods, remaining aware while eating and enjoying food, and stopping when you are full or satisfied.

 

Note: You did not fail on these diets. These diets failed you.

 

To succeed at weight management, you will need to:

  • Focus like a laser on eating “normally”
  • Stay persistent like a dog digging for a bone
  • Not expect overnight success
  • Switch your attention from the scale to your appetite
  • Learn effective life skills to manage stress and internal distress

 

Disregulated eaters can learn how to eat “normally.” Here are some tips to speed you on your way.

 

Using self-talk

Learn “normal” eating skills: Look in the mirror daily and tell yourself you can learn the skills of “normal” eating.

 

Think of foods as nutritional and non-nutritional: Instead of thinking of foods as “good” or “bad,” consider them as nutritional or non-nutritional, or nutritional or “fun”. “Good” and “bad” are moral terms that are best avoided in the food arena.

 

Give yourself praise: Do not put yourself down for the mistakes you make with food. Instead, lavishly praise yourself for your successes, even the tiniest ones.

 

Try a different approach: If experience tells you that diets do not keep your weight off, do not try to convince yourself that you should diet. Instead, give yourself points for trying a different approach.

 

Become your own cheerleader: Never say anything to yourself that you would not say to a young child you love, including calling yourself stupid, hopeless, bad, a failure, or worthless. Become your own cheerleader by generating positive thoughts about yourself and your progress.

 

Avoid all-or-nothing thinking: Do not use words like “never” and “always.” Remind yourself that most of life is not black and white, but gray. Think incrementally.

 

Do not dwell on untrue comments: Detoxify negative things people say about or to you that are untrue, rather than repeating them to yourself. Remember that what people say belongs to them, not to you, even if your name is attached to their words.

 

Connect to your emotions: Ask yourself often how you are feeling, so you can connect more easily to your emotions, but explore only with curiosity, not condemnation.

Stop judging yourself harshly: Develop self-compassion. Treat yourself lovingly. Practice speaking to yourself with extreme esteem.

 

Keep a positive attitude: Do not keep telling yourself that learning to become a “normal” eater is hard, because saying so only programs you to find the work more difficult. Instead, substitute words like challenging or doable.

 

Recognizing hunger

Rate your hunger: Check in with yourself often to see how hungry you are by using descriptions such as “not hungry,” “moderate,” “very,” and “famished” or a 1-10 scale.

 

Evaluate if you are hungry: Every time you think about food, ask yourself if you really are hungry enough to eat or if you actually need something else.

 

Consider having smaller meals: Experiment with eating smaller meals more frequently.

 

Think about hunger as a signal: It means that you need fuel, not that you have to go out and seek the most fantastic eating experience of your life.

 

Know what hunger means: Practice believing that hunger is for fuel and pleasure, not for meeting emotional needs.

 

Choosing satisfying foods

Choose for yourself: Do not get hung up on what other people are eating. Instead, ask yourself what you would like to eat.

 

Forget about good and bad: Remind yourself that foods fall on a nutritional continuum (high value/low value), not on a moral continuum (good/bad).

 

Make a satisfying choice: Never eat without first stopping to consider what you want. Spend time making your decision by tuning into your appetite.

 

Stay clear of guilt or shame: Refrain from allowing guilt or shame to contaminate your eating decisions. Avoid secret eating.

 

Choose foods that you like: Do not eat foods that you do not find satisfying or enjoyable. Eating them will make you think that you are on a diet.

 

Eating with awareness and enjoyment

Look before you eat: Before you eat, look at your food, its portion size, and presentation. Breathe deeply. Look again before taking a mouthful.

 

Chew every mouthful thoroughly: Chewing a lot helps to thoroughly release the flavor of foods.

 

Let food sit on your tongue: This allows your taste buds to absorb the flavor and transmit messages about your appetite to your brain.

 

Talk or eat: When you are talking, stop eating. When you are eating, stop talking.

 

Stay connected: Pay attention to your body’s appetite signals while you are eating.

 

Forget about guilt and shame: Push away guilt and shame while you are eating. Focus only on sensory pleasure.

 

Pause while you are eating: Think about how you are feeling about your food in terms of quality and quantity.

 

Know when to stop eating: Stop eating when flavor intensity declines, as it is bound to do. Do not try to polish off all of the food in front of you. Instead, aim for the moment when flavor peaks and you feel an internal “ah” of satisfaction—then stop.

 

Evaluate how full you are: Keep asking yourself while you are eating, “Am I still hungry?” and “Am I satisfied?”

 

Stopping when you are full or satisfied

Know the definitions: Think of “full” as having enough food (fuel) in your stomach and “satisfied” as reaching the high point of pleasure.

 

Quantify fullness and satisfaction: Use words, such as “nearly full,” “too full,” or “just right,” or a 1-10 scale to rate fullness and satisfaction.

 

Tell your body: When you feel full or satisfied, focus on that sensation, and broadcast it to your whole body.

 

Disconnect from food: When you are done eating, put down your utensils, push away your plate, and get up, if possible. At least mentally move on. Do whatever you need to do to disconnect yourself from the food.

 

Decide when enough is enough: Make sure you do not focus on food that is left in front of you. Recognize that you do not have to finish it or clean your plate.

 

Changing your beliefs

 

From: To:

“I need to diet to lose weight.”

“Diets do not work long term.”

“This is too hard.”

“I can learn to do this over time.”

“This will take too long.”

“If I do not change now, I will only end up back in this same place again, so I might as well get going on it.”

“Losing weight is the most important thing.”

“I will lose weight if I honor my appetite and learn to eat ‘normally.’”

“I am bad/worthless/ugly if I am overweight.”

“I accept my body as it is and still will try to improve it.”

 

Stopping emotional eating

Consider your feelings: If you have the urge to eat when you are not hungry, identify the emotion you are feeling.

 

Think of a different response: Remind yourself that feelings need an appropriate response—not food.

 

Know the emotions that trigger unwanted eating: Boredom, loneliness, anxiety, shame, guilt, disappointment, confusion, and helplessness can trigger unwanted eating. Look for more effective ways of dealing with these feelings.

 

Keep a feelings log: This will help you keep track of what is going on inside of yourself all day long.

 

Reduce stress: This will lessen frustration, helplessness, and the overwhelmed feeling you sometimes have that may drive you to eat.

 

Take care of yourself: Make sure you are taking care of yourself (with rest, sleep, hobbies, and fun) at least as well as you take care of others.

 

Learn from your behavior: If you find yourself eating when you are upset, do not take it out on yourself. Treat yourself with compassion and curiosity. Think about your behavior as a learning experience.

 

Find help: If you have a history of trauma or abuse, get help through therapy. A strong correlation exists between such a history and emotional eating and weight gain.

 

Take responsibility for yourself: Do not blame others for your emotional eating. Take accountability for your actions.

 

Build emotional muscle: Tell yourself that you can bear any emotion and practice doing so. You will find that the emotional muscle you build is amazingly strong and enduring.

 

 

References and recommended readings

Koenig KR. Nice Girls Finish Fat: Put Yourself First and Change Your Eating Forever. New York, NY: Fireside/Simon and Schuster; 2009.

 

Koenig KR. The Food and Feelings Workbook: A Full Course Meal on Emotional Health. Carlsbad, CA: Gürze Books; 2007.

 

Koenig KR. The Rules of “Normal” Eating: A Commonsense Approach for Dieters, Overeaters, Undereaters, Emotional Eaters, and Everyone in Between! Carlsbad, CA: Gürze Books; 2005.

 

Koenig KR. What Every Therapist Needs to Know About Treating Eating and Weight Issues. New York, NY: WW Norton and Co; 2008.

 

 

Contributed by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, MEd

 

 

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Top Ten Diet Myths That Won’t Go Away!

The following are the top ten diet myths that I debunk on a regular basis! I don’t know why these continue to be perpetuated. Let’s set the record straight!

Myth 1: Fad or crash diets help you lose weight permanently.

Fact: A fad diet is the worst way to manage long-term weight goals. Most fad eating plans advocate cutting out certain foods to lose weight quickly. Although this may sometimes be true at first, in the long run this will prove to be unhealthy. By avoiding certain foods, the body may be deprived of nutrients. Also, people get tired of such diets fairly quickly and regain the lost weight all over again. Research has proven that eating healthy and exercising moderately will help you develop a healthier lifestyle and maintain the appropriate weight for you.

Myth 2: You can lose weight by skipping meals.

Fact: Your body requires a certain amount of calories and nutrients each day. When you skip meals, your body tries to make up for the lost calories by demanding more food. In all likelihood, you will end up eating more at the next meal! Studies have shown that people who eat a nutritious breakfast are healthier and maintain a “healthy” weight more than those who skip breakfast.

Myth 3: Snacking will make you fat.

Fact: Snacking will not make you fat. The total amount of calories is what matters, but you can split your food up any way that you would like. Some people enjoy eating three large meals/day, while others prefer eating six small meals/day.

Myth 4: Avoid eating after 8 p.m. since it causes weight gain.

Fact: It doesn’t really matter what time of day you eat! All that matters is how many calories you take in during the whole day and how much you lose due to resting metabolic rate, exercise and lifestyle.

Myth 5: You can burn fat by eating certain foods, like grapefruit and cabbage  soup.

Fact: No foods can burn fat. Celery, grapefruit, etc will not make you burn calories and lose more weight. “Negative” foods (foods that cause you to burn off more calories than the calories you get from eating the food) simply do not exist.

Myth 6: Foods high in fat are fattening and should be avoided if you want to be healthy or lose weight.

Fact: The body needs fat for energy, tissue repair, brain health, hormone production and to transport vitamins A, D, E and K around the body. Women need approximately 70g of fat a day (95g for men) with 30g as the minimum (40g for men). For example, although nuts and nut butters are high in fat, they have incredible health benefits. Also, most nuts have low amounts of saturated fat. Nuts contain protein and fiber. There is no such thing as a “fattening food”.

Myth 7: Drinking lots of water helps to “flush fat” out of your body and leads to weight loss.

Fact: Water has no real impact on weight loss, although it is important to overall health. Drinking ice-cold water also does not increase calorie burn.

Myth 8: Muscle will turn to fat if you stop exercising.

Fact: Muscle cannot turn to fat and fat cannot turn to muscle. It is not physiologically possible.

Myth 9: You should try to avoid carbohydrates/starches as they are fattening.

Fact: No matter what food group you choose, if you cut out the items from that group, you will reduce your caloric intake and lose weight. If you add foods, you will increase your caloric intake and gain weight. The problem is that if you cut your carbohydrate/starch intake, you also will reduce your nutrient intake. It is not necessary or desirable to cut carbohydrates from your diet. They are your body’s #1 preferred source of energy! Instead, make some of them complex carbohydrates. The best choices of carbohydrates/starches are whole grain breads and cereals, beans and legumes, dairy products, and fruits and vegetables like yams, turnips, and beets.

Myth 10: Eating spicy foods will increase the metabolism, causing weight loss.

Fact: If that were true, many people would be devouring chili peppers! Spicy foods do cause a slight increase in metabolism, but the effect is so minimal and short-lived that it does not make a difference as far as weight loss is concerned.

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Dieting Linked To Eating Disorders

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/printerfriendlynews.php?newsid=224444

The above article in Medical News Today discusses some of the findings of research done in England by the British Association for Counseling & Psychotherapy on the effects of dieting on the development of an eating disorder.

“Findings indicate that many clients who do/have dieted solely to lose weight have low self-esteem, and that once dieting starts the clients’ psychological issues become more profoundly associated with their physical appearance. Emphasis then becomes increasingly centered on losing weight rather than addressing the underlying self-esteem issues and a strong link between such clients’ low self-esteem/confidence and body image emerges; it also seems that many such clients primarily tend to use dieting in an attempt to control/improve their lives.”

Also noteworthy is how, since dieting is “normalized” in western societies, many individuals who diet regularly may actually suffer from an eating disorder and go undiagnosed.

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Donna’s Top Ten Reasons Not to Diet

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