We are currently moving through a series addressing the top four excuses for being overweight. Last week, I took a little detour to attend to some other responsibilities. But now, I’m back and ready to tackle another excuse that is consistently given for overeating.
Before we move into our next excuse, let’s review an important point raised at the beginning of this series. Weight and overeating are usually symptoms of something else. As such, merely tackling the weight symptom through different diets and weight loss scenarios may work temporarily, but unless you get to the cause you will most likely regain the weight and often more. You can look back at my post on the problem with focusing only on the weight.
Let’s move on to the second top excuse for being overweight…I like the taste of food.
For some of us, there really isn’t a deep down, emotional issue that we can pin our eating on. We could sit in front of a therapist and pour out our hearts, but in the end we would find out that we eat because we are motivated by food’s sheer yumminess.
So, what in the world do you do with this?
First of all, people who can’t seem to resist the intoxicating draw of food need to look at food as their drug of choice. Just as the alcoholic craves his liquor and the drug addict craves her fix, so the food addict craves food.
Experiments in animals and humans show that, for some people, the same reward and pleasure centers of the brain that are triggered by addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin are also activated by food, especially highly palatable foods. Highly palatable foods are foods rich in: Sugar, Fat and Salt.
Like addictive drugs, highly palatable foods trigger feel-good brainchemicals such as dopamine. Once people experience pleasure associated with increased dopamine transmission in the brain’s reward pathway from eating certain foods, they quickly feel the need to eat again.
The reward signals from highly palatable foods may override other signals of fullness and satisfaction. As a result, people keep eating, even when they’re not hungry.
People who show signs of food addiction may also develop a tolerance to food. They eat more and more, only to find that food satisfies them less and less.
The over-eater who is totally motivated by taste likely has no off switch and seldom gets to the point of feeling full. However, unlike with alcohol and drugs that have the inherent power to derail a person’s life or end it, the food addict is all-too-aware that an extra candy bar is unlikely to leave him passed out on the bathroom floor. Consequently, while food addiction operates on the same premise, it doesn’t always yield the same life-shattering consequences. Of course, I am speaking in rather broad generalities. For the morbidly obese person, the threat to life comes much more into focus, but that is another subject entirely.
My own overeating tendencies definitely fall into the boredom/food-tastes-good category. This is good news for you because I have established workable, mindful eating practices that address these two specific triggers for overeating.
Why is it important to acknowledge that you have no self control? Largely, because of the tendency to pass blame, rather than taking personal responsibility for our actions. Actually,
to the food. In so doing, you view your actions and food choices externally or separate from yourself…the food was so yummy, it made me eat it.
I often mention journaling as an effective tool for conquering our food issues and for establishing a weight loss mindset. Set a prolonged period of time, I suggest 50 days, to
This will give you a truer picture of how your mind works and reacts to food.
I examined the Fuel vs. Entertainment Dilemma in an earlier post. Here is the gist of how I facilitate a weight loss mindset:
Before a meal, I ask myself, “Is this for fuel or entertainment? ” If the answer is fuel, then I stick to the basics, which means making food choices that will satisfy my hunger without adding a lot of excess fat or calories.
However, if I am out with family or friends and the answer is entertainment, then I allow myself extended grace to eat richer options (still keeping portion size in mind) and enjoy the event. – Entertainment Vs.Fuel Dilemma With Food
This weight loss mindset does not shut the door on all yummy food. Instead, it allows for opportunities to enjoy food for it’s yumminess value on certain occasions. Establishing an everyday habit of eating for fuel allows you to bank a calorie deficit to make up for entertainment eating.
Now, before you do the happy dance and take this as an all-express pass to eat yourself crazy when it’s for entertainment, remember that mindful eating has to become a lifestyle regardless of the type of food you are eating.
We have already established that the overeater inspired by the taste of food typically runs low in the self-control category. As such, ridding one’s kitchen of every tidbit of delicious food is likely to backfire in the long-run. Why? Because you are motivated and inspired by the taste of food! It is more realistic to develop the mindful eating habit of pre-portioning your food before ever taking a bite.
For example, you are dying for a Snickers bar. Yes, the healthiest option would be to say no to Snickers bars forever, from this point on. However, a more realistic approach would be to half the candy bar, put the rest away and sit down to mindfully enjoy the chocolate.
Here’s wishing you the best in your weight journey. Initially, these behavior modifications are difficult, but they eventually do become second nature. Set your focus for your desired future and get started!
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