Phase 2, Step 4: Emotions and Food (Exploration)

Experential phase

Worries go down better with soup.  Jewish saying

Chowder breathes reassurance. It steams consolation.   Clementine Paddleford

It is, in my view, the duty of an apple to be crisp and crunchable, but a pear should have such a texture as leads to silent consumption.  Edward Bunyian

Emotions and weight gain

bored eating          betty white angry eating  

Don’t we all want to eat a healthy diet?  With all the information we can  find about food and weightloss we pretty much know what to do.   In theory.  However, when it comes to food, we are not rational beings. Emotions and past habits rule.

I have often heard my clients say:  “ I eat  too much when I am anxious, when I am depressed,  or angry at somebody.”  More psychologically minded clients will even say:  “I eat my emotions. “

Numerous articles and book talk about emotional eating.  It is true that when dessert was used as a reward or consolation by her parents, a person will tend to adopt this habit.  It worked at the time: the child felt cared for, the physical or emotional  booboo was forgotten.

Michele May MD, describes the connections between emotions and weight gain and concludes: “Foods themselves cannot satisfy emotional needs. If we are depressed, eating chocolate chip cookies may stir the memories of a carefree childhood, but they do not remove the cause of that depression. Indeed, the foods we are eating may be creating the emotional problems we are trying to escape from.”

A cookie or a cup of ice-cream can make up for a broken toy, it will not comfort you for situations adults face: being laid off, losing your house, failing a class, having a car accident, or even a flat tire. If one cookie does not work, a box will not work either.

I have seen a lot of clients becoming experts in identifying their emotions. They can find the source of their eating habits in different events of their childhood and still being unable to lose weight.

They may succeed in restraining themselves when they are emotional and tempted to eat too much or some fattening food.  For a while.  Sooner or later, their restrictive diet, their guilt and shame when they eat the forbidden food will throw them in a hellish (and fattening) cycle: Deprivation, mindless eating, guilt, and deprivation. 

 

Matching the right food to the emotion, as thin people do

Realize that all of us eat different food according to our moods, and specific emotional states. Thin people also eat while experiencing emotions but they have a better way to adjust their diet to them.

If you are very frustrated and want to chew on someone (in your imagination), a mouthful of ice-cream will not give you the satisfaction of working your jaws and teeth, while thinking about this person. 

So become aware of your emotion first and choose to eat what is more likely to calm or satisfy you. Here are the most common examples of adequate food, from my personal and professional experience.

Emotions Inadequate food for emotion Why it is inadequate More Adequate
joy Bland food No great taste  in mouth Bubbly drinks. Brightly Colored food. Gourmet food (expensive food in small quantities)
Sadness/ worries Meat, cheese, nuts No comfort in belly warm and high volume food for comfort: soup, chowder, stew, ratatouille. Hot drinks.
Boredom High calorie food with high content of sugar and fat, (donuts, cookies, candies) or drinks/smoothies  with high content of sugar Eaten too fast. Artichokes, shrimps,  celery, lettuce…Tea, herb tea, Yerba Mate
Disgust/contempt Salty food No sweetness in mouth high quality chocolate and pastries  melting in the mouth
Fear Cold food. Sweets. No comfort in belly Hot drinks (hot cider, hot wine with cinnamon, hot milk)
Anger Soup. Ice-cream. Pastries. Buns and white bread. No action from teeth., jaws Celery, meat, cucumbers, apples, any crunchy food.

Here is the big “secret”  

angry swarsernager   1203385_large 

The problem is not that you are “eating your emotions,” everybody does. Since diet don’t work and no one can shut off all his emotions, the only way is to choose the food that fits the emotional need.

This week explore what kind of food feels intuitively right, for the emotions I mentioned and take notes about what works for you.

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Phase 2, Step 4: Taste (Exploration)

Experential phase

The Buddha told this story:

A man travelling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to the precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

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Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted !

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from 101 Zen Stories

Heightened sense of taste can promote weight loss

In a 2008 scientific experiment, lead by Alan Hirsch, MD. , director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, a group of people of an average weight of 208 pounds ate bland tasting food sprinkled with flavored crystals. The flavors used were cheddar cheese, onion, horseradish, ranch dressing, taco, or parmesan, cocoa, spearmint, banana, strawberry, raspberry, and malt. People in this study were not submitted to a diet and lost an average of 30 pounds in 6 months, compared to 2 pounds for the control group.

Hirsch theorized that subjects lost weight because the added flavors made them feel full faster and they therefore eat less. He said he believes this approach works because, unlike most diets, it is not based on food restriction.

Some of the subjects even stopped the study before 6 months because they already had reached their ideal body weight–an unexpected result, Hirsh said.

Weight loss Using taste and smell sensations

 In another 2009 a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health, a study by John M. Poothullil, M.D., showed that participants lost weight by becoming aware of taste and smell sensations. Seven women learned to stop eating when they became aware that the food was no longer pleasant to eat. By the end of 1 month, significant weight loss took place in the study group, and was maintained throughout the study period of 1 year.

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Better tasting food requires a lesser quantity

Ayurvedic medicine –an ancient Hindu system of medicine- recognizes six types of taste.

  1. sweet
  2. sour
  3. salty
  4. hot
  5. bitter
  6. astringent

The six tastes should be balanced in the diet for optimum health and nutrition. (from http://www.mapi.com/ayurveda_health_care/newsletters/newsfood-bitter.html)

Without necessarily choosing to follow an ayurvedic diet –it would be another topic – it is great to keep these six tastes in mind. Then, you can see what kind of taste you are missing in your diet..

Examples  of sweet, salty, hot and sour taste are easy to find. The following are examples of foods and spices for the bitter and astringent tastes:

Bitter Taste:

  • bitter melon and gourd
  • Japanese eggplant
  • turmeric
  • fenugreek seeds
  • leafy greens
  • barley
  • basil
  • nettle
  • jicama
  • lettuce
  • aloe vera

Astringent Taste:

  • apple
  • pomegranate (tastes sour on the tongue but is both astringent and bitter)
  • pear
  • quinoa
  • legumes
  • tofu
  • sprouts
  • beans
  • lentils

Bitter food for health and pleasure

Dr. Adam Drewnowski, Director of the University of Washington Nutritional Sciences Program, is one of the main advocates of bitter foods: spinach, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, radicchio, and dark chocolate prevent many diseases including cancer, because they contain phytonutrients. Unfortunately the food industry has removed and masked the bitter taste that has become undesirable. We are treated like spoiled children who only want to eat sweets, and very salty food.

Chocolate is one of these foods that is pleasantly bitter. If you eat a very sweet chocolate -35% cocoa- you cannot appreciate fully the taste of cocoa. You need a bar to taste the flavor. If you eat the best bitter chocolate -85% cocoa- you only need a square to fill your mouth with flavor for a long time. Don’t take my word for it, try it.

A very tasty nutrient-rich shopping list

Dr. Adam Drewnowski, is at the origin of the Nutrient Rich Foods coalition. Among other useful information the website has a ready-made grocery shopping list with examples of nutrient-rich foods. It helps remind you to enjoy a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods and beverages  (http://www.nutrientrichfoods.org/wp-content/uploads/nutrient-rich-shopping-list.pdf)

Try discovering new flavors this week and enjoy a week filled with many tastes…

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Phase 2, step 4 cheking in: hunger (Exploration)

The past weeks, we explored

  Phase I. The Preparation Phase. 

  • 1. Getting your kitchen and your life ready for change.
  • 2. The cook and the helpers
  • 3. Food and life

We are starting

Experential phase

  Phase II. The Experiential Phase

  • 4. Checking in: hunger, satiety, taste, pleasure, habits
  • 5. Cooking and moving: Long and short meals. Exercising versus moving.
  • 6. Eating with others. The gym and other places of fun or torture

 Checking in: Experiencing hunger (Exploration)

Some of you may remember when you were a child and you went to play with your friends; all of a sudden it was dark, and you came running home, announcing; “I am so hungry, I can eat a horse!”  

From experience, one big difference between thin and overweight people is that thin people can bear being hungry and can wait until they are home, or have finished preparing a meal before they eat. They don’t have to eat in the car even if they have to wait one or two before they can eat. Eating when hungry is a pleasure. Everything tastes better, the satisfaction is greater.

I had a client, Christina, so afraid of being hungry that she was eating as soon as she felt the first hint of hunger. As soon as she became aware of this fear, and recognized it as a feeling, not a precursor of a famine, she was able to eat less junk food between meals. She could wait until she took the time to prepare a decent meal.

Hunger is a natural mechanism, not to be avoided but to become aware of, so satiety can be recognized too.

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Recovering  hunger  

Christina was not aware of her fear of going hungry until I suggested that she fast for a day. All spiritual traditions recognize the value of fasting as a practice with many benefits. It is a great way to break habits and to see how unaware we are of both our body sensations and our cravings. If we are usually eating at noon, let’s see what happens when we wait one o’clock or two. Is eating at noon a question of life or death? Probably not. If you are still eating a lot of sugar, you will probably go in hypoglycemia which is an indication that your body is not functioning right because of a high intake of sugar. If it is the case, it is even more necessary to cut off all sugars and carbohydrates for five days, to reset your body balance mechanisms and get rid of your cravings.

If fasting for a day seems too challenging, even during the week end, fast for half a day. Take a regular breakfast and abstain from eating until dinner.

There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less. If the sound box
is stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and belly are burning clean
with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
The fog clears, and new energy makes you
run up the steps in front of you.  Rumi

 Rumi for flyer

The inner war to lose weight

This mini fast is just a way to gain more awareness. It is not a suggestion to skip meals and starve yourself, if you want to lose weight. It would start a useless war against yourself.  If your desire to be slim cannot be achieved –in your imagination- unless you refuse to satisfy your hunger and your taste for certain foods, you will lose the battle sooner or later. Your desire to satisfy your appetite will increase as you become hungrier, as well as your desire for the kind of foods you refuse yourself. What you call your “will power” which is in fact a denial of the natural tendency to eat when hungry and eat tasteful food does not increase. The forces on each side of this imaginary war become more and more unequal. Finally the “you” which identifies to this “will power” loses.  

For this reason a great majority of people who lose weight through any kind of restrictive diet that denies them the satisfaction of their taste buds and hunger regain weight, as soon as they stop their diet.

With rare exceptions, thin people eat only when and if they are hungry…

 Next week will be about taste and emotions related to food

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Phase 1, Step 3: Food (Exploration)

step 3

Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space
combine to make this food.
Numberless beings gave their lives
and labors that we may eat.
May we be nourished
that we may nourish life.

Buddhist Blessing for Food

 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every seed bearing herb, which is upon the surface of the entire earth, and every tree that has seed bearing fruit; it will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and to all the fowl of the heavens, and to everything that moves upon the earth, in which there is a living spirit, every green herb to eat,” and it was so.

Genesis

Let man, then, consider the sources of his food: how it is that We pour down water, pouring it down abundantly; and then We cleave the earth with new growth, cleaving it asunder, and thereupon We cause grain to grow out of it, and vines and edible plants, and olive trees and date palms, and gardens dense with foliage, and fruits and herbage, for you and for your animals to enjoy.

 Quran 80:24-32

funa

 This blessing and the passages from the scriptures remind us of the limitless bounty of God mirrored in the abundance of the creation,  and our dependence upon other human beings.  Buying and eating food are spiritual and moral acts. We honor this limitless bounty when we by food that keeps us happy and healthy. By buying real food –as opposed to heavily processed and artificially sweetened  food- we help the food producers to stay in business. The more we buy locally, the less percentage of our spending is devoted to the transport and conservation of the food.

Diet comes from  the  Latin  word diaeta, in  Greek diaita , which means a mode of living. This word has the same root as from diaitan ,to direct one’s own life.

It is unfortunate that the word diet, the kind of food a person or a community habitually eats, is almost always associated with restriction: eating less, or depriving oneself of a kind of food.

When we buy food, we may remember first this humorous quote by Michael Pollan: “Don’t eat anything your great-great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. There are a great – many food-like items in the supermarket your ancestors wouldn’t recognize as food.. stay away from these”

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In his little new book, Food Rules, Pollan offers more common-sense rules for eating:

“If it’s a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.”

 “It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.”

 “Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of your milk.

Most of all, Pollan tells us , we are victims of the ideology called “nutritionism”

“…based on several “unexamined assumptions,” among them that “foods are essentially the sum of their nutrient parts” and “that the whole point of eating is to maintain and promote bodily health.” Moreover, nutritionism has foisted on us a view of a kind of eternal food fight going on in our bodies: “protein against carbs; carbs against proteins; (…) fats against carbs” as well as “smaller civil wars (…) within the sprawling empires of the big three: refined carbohydrates versus fiber; animal protein versus plant protein; saturated fats versus polyunsaturated fats; (…) omega-3 fatty acids versus omega-6s.” No wonder the pharmaceutical industry makes so much money from drugs to combat heartburn. “  Charles Matthews

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In the next post we will look at how thin people experience pleasure, comfort, satiety, fullness, gratitude through eating.

Phase 1, Step 3: Food (But before we talk about food let’s talk about sugar)

step 3

EATING TOO MUCH SUGAR

When Nasrudin was a magistrate, a woman came to him with her son.
“This youth,” she said, “eats too much sugar; I cannot afford to
keep him in it. Therefore I ask you formally to forbid him to eat
it, as he will not obey me.”

Nasrudin told her to come back in seven days.

When she returned, he postponed his decision for yet another
week.

“Now,” he said to the youth, “I forbid you eat more than such and
such a quantity of sugar every day.”

The woman subsequently asked him why so time had been necessary
before a simple order could be given.

“Because, madam, I had to see whether I myself could cut down on
the use of sugar, before ordering anyone else to do it.”

kind judge

The story reminds us that we cannot stop eating sugar easily, and those who pretend they can are liars or in denial.  In fact there is now scientific evidence that the more sugar we eat, the more we crave for it and need it every day.   Evidence that Intermittent, Excessive Sugar Intake Causes Endogenous Opioid Dependence  a  recent  research by a group of eight  professors at Princeton University and Los Andes University,  Venezuela,  concluded that an excessive intake of sugar caused behavioral and neurochemical signs of dependence and withdrawal similar to a dependence to opium and nicotine. Signs of Anxiety, change of body temperature, confusion were observed.

In 1975, William Dufty wrote Sugar Blues.  He published this book because he became a sugar addict and kicked the habit. It is an inspiring and frightening book about the effects of sugar:  sugar does not bring nutrients, it is addictive and is linked to many diseases.  Dufty warns about the rise of diabetes, and its correlation with soft drinks and sugar in snacks. The epidemic of diabetes  He describes how the tobacco industry introduced sugar in cigarettes, which increased dramatically the incidence of cancer for smokers.  It is now recognized by traditional oncologists that “cancer loves sugar.” 

Americans were sold on the idea that fat in food was responsible for their weight. In fact, fat like protein has a satiating effect. I never saw a bulimic eating one chicken after another. It is a “sweet” deal for the food industry. They  get  the same amount of money from low fat milk and sell the cream they took out of the milk for a high price.

Sugar in the other hand is cheaper than any food it is added too, and since it is addictive, it brings people to eat more.  When we eat a chocolate cake we have, at least, some pleasure. But when sugar is added to the meat, or the mayonnaise, we only gain a wider waist line. Companies are getting us sick but they are  protected because sugar is not considered as a toxic substance by the FDA, and we reproach ourselves this single piece of cake. . .

Sugar lurks in food in 50+ different forms

There are many words used by the Food Industry mainly to disguise the presence of sugar and hide the percentage. Put together the added sugars  would be listed  the first ingredient, included in many “health foods” like protein bars and cereals.

Here is a list of sugars by http://naturalbias.com/types-of-sugar-by-name/ : Dextrose Fructose Galactose Glucose, Lactose, Levulose, Maltose, Saccharose, Sucrose, Xylose, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol, Beet Sugar, Brown sugar, Cane Sugar, Confectionary Sugar, Corn Sugar. Corn Sweetener, Corn Syrup, Dehydrated Cane Juice, Dextrin, Fruit Juice Concentrate, Granulated Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Honey, Invert Sugar, Isomalt, Malt Syrup, Maltodextrin, Maple Sugar, Maple Syrup, Molasses, Raw Sugar, Rice Syrup, Sorghum, Treacle
Turbinado Sugar.

 Recovering from sugar addiction.

It is possible.  It takes a minimum of five days for the body to recover. My experience as a psychologist is that it takes two to four weeks for losing the habit to look for something sweet to eat when anxious. After a month of abstinence  you will be able to eat something sweet once in a while, like thin people do.

 The most difficult part is to eliminate the hidden sugars from your diet. We need to read the labels, and make no compromise.

It is still possible to find food without sugar but we have to look for it. I found only one brand of mayonnaise without sugar available at Trader Joe’s, but no bread without it. I have to go to the New Life Health Center. I found recently that sweetened water was added to raw meat sold in grocery stores. The % of carbs indicated is 0, simly because the serving size is very small  and the %  has been rounded to entire numbers. 

american-sugar-consumption

An interesting documentary to watch The Bitter Truth: www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM by Dr. Lustig, Professor of endocrinology. It can help anyone with a sugar addiction.

 We, consumers have a lot of power. If we don’t buy the food with added sugar, we can reverse the process, eat less sugar and influence the food companies. In fact it has already started. 

 In the article, Consumption of added sugars decreasing in the United States, the researchers note a decrease between 2007 and 2008 but it conclude that it is mostly because of a decrease of consumption of sodas. We still need to ban the sweetened food from our homes.

.* (Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 September; 94(3): 726–734. Published online 2011 July 13. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.018366PMCID: PMC3155936,)

Phase 1, Step 2 (exploration): The Cook

2. The Cook
The Cook who fed the man who became the Buddha

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According to the Buddhists texts Siddhartha Gautama, hoping to reach enlightenment spent 6 years undergoing extreme deprivations, subsisting on one grain of rice a week. He became so emaciated that the skin of his belly was touching his spine. One day he lost consciousness and his companions thought he was dead. But he regained consciousness and realized that extreme asceticism was meaningless.
Now at that time there lived a young woman named Sujata. In reaching maturity she had made a prayer: “If I get a good husband and give birth to a child, I will make an offering of a hundred thousand pieces of money.” Her prayer was answered. So, to prepare for this offering, she first pastured a thousand cows and fed their milk to five hundred cows, then fed the milk of these cows to 250, and so on down to feeding the milk of 16 cows to 8. This was to increase the thickness, and sweetness of the milk. She, then, cooked the milk with rice, while four guardian angels stood guard over the fireplace. She finally put the rice cake in a gold dish worth the sum of money she had promised to give away. She found the future Buddha at the foot of a tree, who was waiting for the time to go begging for food. The great being looked at her and she perceived he was a holy man. She offered him the dish saying “May your wishes prosper like my own” and departed, not caring for her golden dish. The future Buddha went to the river bank. After bathing, he ate the cake and disregarded the dish. It was his only meal for the seven weeks he stayed under the tree where he attained enlightenment. (summarized and adapted from the introduction to the Jakata in Warren’s book, Everyman’s life of the Buddha.)

For many women and men, cooking can be a spiritual practice

c Niderlander | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images photo: Niderlander | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Cooking requires an opening of the senses first. We pay attention to the colors, to the smells, the texture of the food. It is an opening of our heart. We cook thinking about the pleasure or just the satisfaction of those who will eat our food. We find the joy of finding ourselves hungry and then satiated. It is an affirmation of our self-worth and a thankful prayer to the Divine Love and Power to feed us. We pay heavily for our busy lives. We give the power to unscrupulous companies to feed us with high amounts of sugar, salt and many additives to preserve the food on the shelf.
The only question you have to ask yourself this week, is” Are you ready to cook for yourself, and prepare all the food you eat, with a few exceptions?” I don’t think it is possible to lose weight, if we are not in charge. Before we look at what kind of food we want to eat, we must have the power to make decisions. Cooking does not have to take much time. For most of us, who have jobs, children –and no personal cook like Oprah or Jennifer Aniston- the only alternative to eating already prepared food is to learn to prepare a simple and healthy meal in 20 minutes. As I was mentioning last week cooking once a week, for the whole week is also a possibility. We will look more deeply at cooking in step 5 (see the post “A time for exploration” for the different steps) and you will have more chances to succeed in losing weight and maintaining your weight loss for years if you don’t make drastic changes for a few weeks. You need time to adjust: see post “A no-shame, no blame approach”).

cook with pot  ©Natie | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

So for now, simply look at how you are going to manage preparing your meals and snacks at home. If you are living with a partner and children start looking at how you can include each member of the family in the preparation of the meals. Try that. Cooking and eating will become, as it used to be, a family spiritual practice, even if it takes less time, fortunately, than it took in our old families.

file0001527574719 ©CByron | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Phase 1, Step 1 of the journey (exploration) : Getting your kitchen and your life ready for change.

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Why we need to go back to home cooking

Is there a conscious effort of food production and distribution companies to make us fat? You can bet on it. When we start looking into it, it is worse than we can imagine.

During the last 40 years, the number of people that are overweight has increased significantly. An estimated two-thirds of all U.S. adults over the age of 20 have a BMI index over 30. http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/publish/news/newsroom/6748  (The BMI is a measure of a person’s weight/height ratio that can be calculated at http://nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bminojs.htm).  It is getting much worse: this percentage of people seriously overweight increased by 75% from 2000 to 2005.

Obviously it is not just a personal but a social problem.  According to a major research by DA Cohen from the department of health, the most dramatic change in the last four decades is a greater accessibility of foods and a decline of the relative price of food. More important is the increase of money spent on food bought outside the home; from 24 % of food purchase in 1966 to 42% in 2006. People can control the amount of sugar and fat they use in their cooking, not in the snacks or restaurant dishes. Restaurant food is typically sweeter and more greasy. It is easier for the cook; oily food does stick to the pan. Sugar opens the appetite and it is therefore better for business, so there are a lot of hidden sugars:  in salad dressings, in pizza tomato sauce, and to a lesser degree in any prepared dish. Worse are the non-perishable food sold in gas stations, convenience stores, office buildings and drugstores. This kind food is highly processed, high in sugar and has low nutritional value.

People are artificially stimulated to feel hungry by an unceasing flow of images of food, without being aware of it.  The response of the brain to food images is the same as the response to images of drugs for drug addicts, with a lesser intensity. This response is automatic, not mediated by the consciousness. The variety of food offered has increased as well. Each year the food industry introduces more than 10 000 new products, offering minor changes in coloring and texture, but increasing the temptations to try something new. More than 65% of the items bought in the stores are unplanned purchases. Branding, a powerful marketing technique associates desirable qualities and characteristics to a specific product is more persuasive technique than we want to admit.

Unfortunately we have very little insight on how our environment influences our behavior.  I became aware of it by chance. After I left my parent’s home, I spend two decades without TV. When I decided to buy one, I started watching a specific program, introduced by an add for a hot dog sold in a fast food outlet. I had never been fond of hot dogs, but after two weeks of TV commercials, I found out that I was craving to eat one. So, I bought one, just to be disappointed by the taste. Finally, when it comes to food many factors such as distraction, information overload, fatigue, stress, ambiance, play a more important role than rational decisions.

We cannot have sane reactions to food and eating, in this insane environment.

If we expect to resist temptations presented to us a hundred of times a week, we are deluding ourselves. There will always be a convenient store open when we are feeling low energy, a new kind of cookie to try, a new restaurant in town to sample …and more. The only place where we can regain some sanity is our own home, where we can espouse a philosophy of simple living and eating.

Voluntary simplicity involves both inner and outer conditions. It means singleness of purpose, sincerity and honesty within as well as avoidance of exterior clutter…  it means an ordering and guiding of our energy and our desires, a partial restraint in some directions in order to secure greater abundance of life in other directions.  Richard Gregg

We have to set our intention to create our own food environment, reduce the clutter, make our own decisions about what we want to eat on a monthly basis. Imagine the time and energy we can save when we go to the store once a week, buy what we need, and stick with that.  (We will look in future posts how we can select food for both pleasure and a slender figure. The French can do it, why not us?)

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Reclaiming our kitchens

The first step is to look at our kitchen with new lenses, in a loving and critical way. The kitchen is where you will start your journey of getting thinner.  Keep your receipts and look at how much you spent on food prepared outside your home. You may have a kitchen that has everything … except you and the rest of the family.

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Can you prepare at home 80% of the food you are going to eat? It will require a reorganization of your schedule so you can cook, may be, two days a week, or even just one, and freeze your prepared meals for the week. Don’t underestimate the difficulty.  Don’t give up either.  You don’t have to change anything for now. You will be more successful if you take your time to make any change, even if it takes 8 weeks (see my post:  A  no-blame, no- shame approach)

If you have a kitchen which is cluttered, with cabinets and fridge overflowing with a variety of every kind of food, it is time to look at how you can simplify your life, have a kitchen easier to keep tidy and clean, and more hospitable.

Dr. Peeke, the author of Buried in Treasures, says she has instructed patients trying to lose weight to at least create one clean and uncluttered place in their home. She gives the example of one patient who cleaned up her home and also lost about 50 pounds.

You may not have a problem with clutter in any other rooms in your house, but if you have in your cupboards 5 kinds of cookies, instead of one, you have more chance to eat more when you are bored. Choose your favorite brand and think about not buying the others anymore. If you have a spouse, children and each one of you has a different one –worst case scenario- still look if you can eliminate some.

Do the same thing with each category of food. The next thing you will start looking at is the food you don’t use or love. Take a box and put the packages of non-perishable food in it and see if you are going to use it in the next weeks. Do the same with the food in the fridge. Put this food on a specific shelf.  In a few weeks get this food out of your kitchen.

Have fun and most of all take your time! Rome was not built in a day.

kitchen tgwl week 3