I read this book a few months ago after I finished Grace Bowman’s Thin. At the time when I read it, I was completely ready to hear it. My mind was open. And it spoke to me and added the missing ingredient to what I had learned over the previous two years about weight, food and body image.
Eat When You are Hungry.
This is the first key. To some, it may sound incredibly obvious. To others it may seem difficult and dangerous. To me, it caused something to finally click. It seems that what I have been learning all along is that I can trust myself.
Throughout my life I have eaten for many reasons, but hunger was generally not one of them, or at the most it was a secondary consideration. I had said the words “I’m hungry” many times, but “hunger” once had a much different meaning to me than it does now. Hunger used to be many things in addition to stomach hunger, from boredom to loneliness. “I’m hungry” was just as likely to mean “I’m angry” or “I’m sad” as “I need nourishment for my body.”
So now I practice eating when I am hungry. I find my hunger signal is not broken as I once thought. I just didn’t know how to listen to it. Instead I listened to my emotional mind and my taste buds. If you asked me why I ate, I would have likely told you, “because it tastes good.”
Eat the Food Your Body is Hungry For.
In addition to telling me when I am hungry, I have learned that my body tells me what it is hungry for. When I eat the right foods, the nourishing foods, and of course the appealing and tasty foods, my body rewards me by feeling good. I feel energetic, my mind feels clear, and I feel emotionally happier. When I eat the wrong foods for the moment, or foods that are too sweet or salty or greasy, or when I do not eat enough, my body punishes me by feeling bad. I feel lethargic, nauseated, and grumpy. This has always been the case. But in the past I let tastiness override all other effects.
This doesn’t mean I never eat cake or french fries. Sometimes you really and truly desire a decadent chocolate. At those times, I have what I desire. But I wait until I am hungry to eat it and I make sure to enjoy it fully.
Find Out Why You Eat When You aren’t Hungry.
I spent the previous 2 years figuring that out. I think I have a true understanding of it now. The understanding set me free.
Taste Every Mouthful.
I’m always working on this one. In my family, we didn’t sit down to dinner very often. We generally ate separately or at different times. I usually ate in front of the TV. I still eat in front of the TV sometimes still, but I’m much more conscious of enjoying the food I am eating rather than mindlessly eating it without really savoring it at all.
Stop Eating the Moment You Are Full.
I’ve eaten too much, I’ve eaten too little. I lost the weight by eating by number. I ate a specific number of calories every day and I ate at specified times throughout the day. I planned most meals the day before.
Now, I eat until I start to feel full. Just like there’s a specific physical feeling for hunger, there’s a specific physical feeling for fullness. My body knew the right thing to do all along. I only had to listen. One of the most useful things I learned from the book was that if I start eating when I’m not hungry, I will never get the signal that I am full.
I can’t recommend this book enough. I might not have been ready for it until this moment. I may have needed the practice of eating by number and learning what the effects of healthier eating felt like and knowing that reward is coming if I choose to eat right. I may have been skeptical that it could be this simple in the past, but I’m not now. It works. It is incredibly freeing after putting so much focus on the tedium of eating and letting it be more free-flowing and enjoyable as well as much less mind-consuming.