I’ll confess that I’m hooked thus far on the short term TLC show, I Can Make You Thin. We watched the first episode last week, and it all seemed like good, rational, common sense advice to me. The guy’s name is Paul McKenna, and he’s a Brit who claims he can help you to lose weight without dieting. I’m suspicious of people who say no diets, and then proceed to put you on a diet, ever since Dr. Phil said he was anti-diet, and then put out a whole money making line of products to make money off of people dieting. I don’t like that AT ALL. And this guy is clearly in the whole thing to make a buck. But I liked when McKenna said that the #1 WORST thing people do to their metabolisms is to diet. That’s right, dieting makes you fat. Sounds familiar to me. Anyway, here’s what McKenna came up with.
First, pay attention to your body. Pay attention to your hunger.
See the red areas there? Don’t go there. Never get yourself to the point where you’re feeling like you’re starving. I suspect many dieters feel virtuous when they get that far along, as do many anorexics or others with eating disorders, but it’s not a good place to be. At the same time, try to listen to your body and stop when you’re full, so you never have those uncomfortable feelings of being stuffed, bloated, or nauseous. Sounds good, huh? Especially since he’s not saying that you need to eat different foods based on your blood type, or skip out on carbs, or anything like that. Quite the contrary. His four rules of thin people are:
1. Eat when you’re hungry.
This one seems like ‘duh’, of course. But I think a lot of people wait until they’re VERY hungry to eat, and then they end up eating more than they want. (Notice that I didn’t say “should”, I said “want”. There’s a difference, and yet, people even eat more than they want.) So when you are physically hungry, not emotionally hungry, eat something.
2. Eat what you want, not what you think you should.
I’ve seen this one before in my mom’s attempts to overcome her yo-yo dieting. You eat what you want, when you want, it’s there. There are no taboos. And at first, you may binge on donuts or something, but eventually, the majority of what people eat will be healthy food. I wonder about that when I see kids who eat nothing but mac & cheese and chocolate, but I’ll go with it for now. But overall, I think it’s best not to fetishize food, and eating what you want and moving on is the best thing. Not feeling guilty or virtuous for your choices. And you can’t have it both ways. You can’t feel virtuous about eating salad and not feel guilty for eating chips. So give them both up, and eat what you want.
3. Eat consciously, and enjoy every mouthful.
When I had lunch with Michelle in Anchorage, she said that was her sister’s way of eating. If she orders a sandwich and French fries, and the fries aren’t delicious, she won’t bother with them. How many times have we all overeaten because we’ve gotten something that we didn’t really like, and yet eaten it anyway? I mean, you have two choices, and I think they’re equally fine. First, you can send the food back and try for better results. The fries suck, and you really wanted good fries? Send them back and get more fries. Hell, it’s YOUR money. So get what you’re paying for. Second, you can skip them. If you don’t REALLY want them, they just came with the meal that you did want, then forget about them and enjoy your sandwich. Hell, I think you can have it both ways if you want. Eat your sandwich, and if you’re still actually hungry, if you still want the fries, THEN send them back, and if you’re still hungry when you get the new order, eat them. If you’ve lost interest, don’t. Who cares what the people at the restaurant think. He suggested a couple of things that I’ve heard before. Chew your food at least 20 times before swallowing. Put down your fork between bites. When I see people putting their fork down between bites, though, I tend to think that they’re paying TOO much attention to their food, and not really enjoying their food. Just my thought. But I’m a fast eater. I didn’t used to be a fast eater, and I’m trying to get back in touch with the J who ate slowly. We’ll see if I can find her.
4. When you think you are full, STOP eating.
This one was interesting to me. He blindfolded people and put them in front of a plate of food, and had them eat as much as they wanted. Comfort foods like mac & cheese, ‘healthy’ foods like sandwiches, whatever. When they were blindfolded, they weren’t paying attention to how much was left on their plate, and were more able to enjoy what they were eating. You know what? They all left at least SOMETHING on their plate. Some of them discovered that by eating more slowly, they were able to be satisfied sooner, and the food wasn’t as good as they thought, and they ended up eating a lot less. Others were physically hungrier, and ate almost everything on the plate. But they all felt better about it, and none of them ate to the point of feeling stuffed or in pain, which they all had done before.
The second episode is about emotional eating, and came across as a lot more strange. McKenna’s technique is to try to lower peoples need to eat emotionally by tapping on acupressure points in order to lower their stress, so they don’t eat for emotional reasons.
In order to figure this out, he wants you to ask yourself, Am I really hungry, or do I want to change the way I feel? If you’re not sure, try the tapping technique. If you’re sure, and it’s not hunger, try the tapping technique. If you’re sure, and you’re hungry, then eat, and eat what you want. Enjoy it. And stop when you’re full.
So, ask yourself…Am I really hungry, or do I want to change the way I feel? From his website:
If it turns out that what you actually want is a change in the way that you feel, no amount of food will work as well as applying the two simple techniques we are about to do.
First try this technique, if the uncomfortable feeling doesnâ€™t disappear then simply do the tapping technique video:
1. Clarify the emotion that you are finding uncomfortable. Donâ€™t be distracted by thinking about WHY you are feeling it – just focus on the feeling itself. Where in your body do you feel it? Are there certain situations, times, places, or people with whom it tends to arise?
2. Next, ask yourself what the feeling is about â€“ what message does it have for you? If youâ€™re not sure, itâ€™s OK to guess â€“ whatever you guess will inevitably come directly from your intuitive self.
3. Whatever the message, let your unconscious mind know youâ€™ve received it. If there is any action to be taken, promise yourself you will take it as soon as possible â€“ ideally within the next 24 hours.
4. Youâ€™ll know youâ€™ve correctly identified the emotion and its message when the uncomfortable feeling begins to dissolve into the background and your natural, confident sense of ease and well-being returns to the fore.
Here are two techniques to help you to overcome emotional hunger forever. Watch the videos now and I will show you how feel good now, or read through the instructions if you would like to go through them first…
I’m not sure about this. The tapping technique is strange, and I hate to see people obsessing about this stuff, and it seems like maybe it exacerbates that problem. But you know what? I’m going to give it a try in this next week. If I’m craving something, but I realize that I’m not physically hungry, I’m going to try this. I know I don’t eat more under stress. When I was in Anchorage with my mom, I think I lost a few pounds, and I know my eating habits didn’t change MUCH. Where they changed was the snacking. I still snacked a bit in the evening, watching TV with some cheese its and wine, but no snacking during the day made a difference. So for this week, instead of snacking while I’m working, I’ll try these techniques, and I’ll let you know what I come up with, OK?
And believe me, I do know that being a “Gielsen” family, I shouldn’t be watching TLC as much as I do. At least, not without some kind of payola from them.