Feeling guilt about your weight?
What the diet specialists, diet products, popular diet programs, weight counselors, and even weight researchers, don’t tell you is that the explosion in weight problems is not about will power or the proper foods, or even psychology. It’s about tricking our minds and bodies into craving foods that don’t nourish.
Try keeping a thirsty dog from water or a hot lizard from running for shade. Our bodies crave a unique combination and configuration of water, fiber, energy nutrients, minerals, and thousands of other chemical substances some of which we call vitamins, which occur only in the actual living foods humans have been eating through their entire evolution. When we don’t get this unique combination and configuration of substances in a form which the body can recognize, as it has for the past millions of years, our bodies just can’t respond as they would otherwise be expected to. We will be driven to eat more, searching for those needed substances in their proper configurations. Just like the dog seeks water or the lizard the shade, we will keep eating to find the missing food, regardless of our will power.
If you struggle with your weight, this does not mean you are weak-minded, self-indulgent, or stupid. You don’t need to feel guilty. And guilt can just lead to more eating!
Over millions of years of eating wild foods in their natural combinations and configurations, and then over tens of thousands of years eating foods minimally cooked or prepared as they come from the farm, our bodies developed sensitive balancing processes to tell us what and when and how much to eat.
Now, we have so removed ourselves from those natural diets that our bodies’ signals are completely thrown off. The more we alter those foods, the further we remove ourselves from our bodies being able to give us accurate signals.
For example, when our energy is low because we haven’t included the vitamins and minerals in our diets which have always been there in the foods in the right proportions and are required to help our cells to give us the energy we need through the day, no amount of will power will keep us from reaching for some quick snack to bolster our energy – either a sugary snack, or something that tastes like sugar, or a drug like caffeine that will make us feel temporarily like we have had some sugar.
To take another example, if we are restricting our caloric intake by avoiding fat in our foods, our metabolism slows down, because every energy producing process in our bodies requires the presence of good quality fat. So we will lose it over the French Fries, just because we skimped on the almonds, olives, or avocados the night before.
The only true way to attain and maintain your ideal weight is to return to a diet which lets your body tell you the truth and gives you the right signals.
There are all kinds of research out there showing how a multitude of hormones and nerves and enzymes and other mysterious chemicals control our appetites and our energy metabolism. But most of these studies are financed by drug companies who are looking for some chemical pathway which they can shift by a new drug to achieve some temporary suppression of appetite, or jolt of energy, or perception of fullness, or aversion to food, or other manipulation of the natural communications within your body. Rarely are these studies used to point out the amazing intricacies of the body – our body’s own highly developed wisdom.
What if we turned around and stopped trying to manipulate our bodies by counting calories or carbs or medicating our metabolisms, and began to trust our bodies, began to believe they know what they are doing, and began to simply give them the input they have relied on for millennia to give us accurate information output?
If you type in the wrong numbers on your calculator , it won’t come up with the right answers. If you give your body modified food starch instead of a tomato, or texturized soy vegetable protein instead of an egg, or fructose corn syrup instead of a blueberry, is it any wonder that your body can’t tell whether it is being nourished or poisoned?
In fact, these foods cause more of a poisoning reaction than they cause the contentment of good nourishment. They can cause inflammation, fluid retention, sugar and salt cravings, abdominal bloating, obsession with eating, and many other symptoms of poisonings. What they don’t cause is a healthy sense of satiety, a gentle increase in energy flow, a comfortable digestion process, and a contented mood which lasts some 4-5 hours until the thought of true hunger eventually reappears.
To take it a step further, what about all the substances which food enthusiast, journalist, and author Michael Pollan has so wisely labeled “food like substances”? These preservatives, colorings, flavorings, texturizers, spreadability enhancers, and so on, don’t even pretend to be food, but they claim somehow to enhance the food experience. All they are really designed to do is to increase food processors’ profits by making all those strange industrial products mentioned above trick your taste buds and body into temporarily identifying them as food. By doing that, the processors can charge ten times what the original food would have cost you and still leave your body wanting more, because there was no real nourishment there!
So, what if we began to trust our bodies and decided to step back from the industrialized diet we have been experimenting with only for a couple of generations out of the millions of years of human eating history?
Thankfully we don’t actually have to go back to hunting our foods in the meadows and forests like our ancient ancestors to avoid the worst of our modern weight problems. We just need to make sure our diets include enough of those foods which will truly feed our bodies, so that they will be able to tell us what and when and how much to eat.
It’s not as hard as the diet gurus want you to think. It’s just about starting your meal with foods from scratch and doing as little as possible to them.
I tell people to think about what their great grand mother would have eaten if she had her own back yard garden, as most of them did back then.
And whenever there is a plate – or take-out box – in front of you, just ask yourself how far removed are you from eating each food in its least altered form? Has the meat been preserved with chemicals? Is the bread or breading white and squishy, so you know most of the original grain must be gone? Is the oil clingy and greasy, so you know it’s been overheated and chemically treated? Is the vegetable overcooked so it lacks its natural color? Are the ingredients which are listed on the package unpronounceable or impossible to imagine outside of a chemical lab? In fact, did the food come in a package, so you know it came from the processing plant and not the farm?
The further you are away from what has been called a whole, natural, organic food source, the more you must be wary of what and how much and how often you eat. You must also be wary of how soon afterwards you eat again and what it is you crave then. One chocolate truffle throws off your blood sugar and calcium – phosphorous balance in your blood for up to 40 hours, meaning you may be craving sugar Monday morning because of sweets you ate Saturday night!
Why this happens has been well explained by biochemists. But you don’t have to know all that. All you need to know is that when you fool your body, it doesn’t know how to give you good advice. If a child lies to his parent, he can’t expect good advice. Likewise, when your food choices lie to your body, chances are you will get fat.
Even if you think your weight is psychologically triggered, by emotional trauma of various kinds, or an inherited tendency towards the gourmand, please realize that the purveyors of the refined foods on our supermarket shelves know how to take advantage of those triggers and how to get you to buy and eat more and more. They spend over a thousand dollars per person each year to convince you through advertising that food – and of course their food - will solve your problems.
See the marketing ploys for what they are, setting food up as a solution to the way you feel, and walk through your emotions with confidence, realizing that whatever they are they are yours without guilt.
Disengage from the seduction we are all exposed to when we food shop and start giving your body food messages it knows how to deal with. Then it will start telling you the truth. And you will gradually shift your habits of eating. As the body readjusts and rebalances itself, rebuilding the sensitive systems of hormones and nerves and the all important communications that govern our eating habits, your weight will gradually move towards your healthy ideal.
Likewise your mind will adjust your self-image correctly, because you will no longer be fighting against the naturally evolved instincts of your body but instead working with them. My father, who was a physician, told me over and over again not to mess with nature. We have all heard it: “Nature knows best.” But we have to give her a chance. Trying to outsmart nature by altering our foods and then convincing ourselves we should use more counting, measuring, and will power to stay skim is like trying to whistle with our lips closed.
I like to say eating has always been a right brain activity – governed by instinct and taste. As soon as we make it a left brain activity – based on linear analysis instead of wholeness and pattern – We lose contact with the wisdom of our bodies.
All that guilt, arguing with the scales, comparing yourself with air-brushed magazine models, marveling at celebrity diets, and yo-yoing around the diet world, will never move you towards a natural ideal weight. Instead you have a critical choice to make. And you are making it every time you ea,t whether you are aware of it or not.
You have the choice to trust your body or to fight it and deceive it. Begin now to trust your body by giving it the nourishment it craves, and begin to move away from the seductive emotional and chemical triggers built in to the commercialized diet we are supposed to love. Let go of guilt and remember what is really going on between you and your food. Your body will thank you!
Randy Colton Rolfe, JD, MA
Bestselling author and speaker on family life and wellness
Marketing fresh ideas to entrepeneurs and families world-wide
President, Institute for Creative Solutions