I have been reading a book (Child of Mine by Ellyn Satter) about how to get your kid to be a healthy about food and eating. It is an eye opener. It sites studies which show that the more parents restrict food (presumably so the child won’t grow up unfashionably fat), the more likely that the kid will end up obese. Basically the kid feels restricted and is basically left hungry a lot (obviously having no ability to sneak food just yet) and so eats uncontrollably whenever they get a chance (e.g. friend’s bday party) which of course alarms parents who restrict even more, and thus kid goes even wackier when he gets a chance (because who knows when food will be available to satisfaction again?) And thus you train the little guy to totally ignore his internal regulation regarding what amount of food satisfies him since he is put in this constant state of imposed deprivation.
….also, sound familiar???
I mean basically THIS is why diets (self-imposed food restrictions) DON’T WORK!!!!!
Recently, I found myself in a really fast and destructive cycle of starving for three to four days and then literally bingeing on ridiculous amounts of sweet stuff for an equal number of days. I guess because I was trying calorie counting for the first time for a few minutes (days!) there and because I wanted to reach 150 by end of summer I was letting myself get a bit too hungry for a few days and then suffering some serious backlash – and found myself gaining back weight even faster then I lost it.
Since I have been dieting in some way or fashion since I don’t know when, I think this starve-binge-rinse-repeat cycle is always kinda of there with me. How obviously it is manifesting depends on how much I am restricting. Especially reading this book on how healthy eaters are created put my own eating patterns in the spotlight and it made me see the connection and cycle of how much I restrict causes me to go insane all the more once I let my guard down (you know like when I have had a tough day or I’m alone and think…”quick, now is the chance to grab that cookie’ etc. etc.)
Okay so I always knew this about dieting (didn’t you?) and always knew and heard that dieting does not work (hadn’t you?) so then why do I keep doing the restricting stuff? Because I think this time for the millionth time it is ‘different’…I’m going to ‘get it right’ this time. I lie to myself that it is a ‘lifestyle change.’ I think that since I know that restriction is not a good idea that I am one step ahead of it….???!!??(definition of insanity anyone?? haha)
This book was a wake up call for me when she said she does not recommend any diet but for the very few who have so much self-discipline that they can white knuckle their way to permanent weightloss she says go for it….you can tell if you are not one of those by whether you go through the cycle above. Obviously I am not a white knuckler. So where does this leave the rest of the 99.9 percent of us? Actually in a really hopeful and peaceful place IF you are willing to accept who you are (and considering that diets don’t work for this overwhelmingly large portion of the populations – acceptance is key – let me explain)
HOPEFUL: First and foremost, major research backs up that if left to their own devices (e.g. their food is not interfered with) kids are incredibly good at self-regulating their calorie intake. In other words, we are born with excellent internal regulation system for food intake. This is excellent news because that means we can TRUST our intuition and in fact finding and listening to that internal regulator inside of us is LITERALLY our only hope in this battle (since we know that diets don’t work!). The challenge of course is that not only do diets NOT work BUT restricting our calories and intake actually makes us lose touch with this wonderful internal regulation system God put in us. Isn’t that horrible? But, there is hope that if you stop restricting and start listening that you will start to hear that internal regulator again (I am assuming this because apparently this works with kids)
PEACEFUL: Actually that means no starving and enjoying any and all food until the internal says you are full. Hey sounds good to me!! 🙂 (never wanted to be a white knuckler anways…suckas!!)
…here is the acceptance part: the clever amongst you may already have gotten where all this leads. People come in all shapes and we may have not been programmed to fill out to the shape and specifications of what is in vogue today body wise. Ahhhhhrrgggh!!
Am I okay with that? Well from what I have written above, it looks like I am going to have to be. I have no choice. Either I continue in this wild depressing cycle getting myself fatter and fatter over the years because even while knowing exactly the psychology behind it I cannot stop the cycle OR I stop, start enjoying food and feeding myself well and accept where that takes me. I have been dieting for so long, I honestly don’t know what shape I would be if I just went with feeding simply my physical hunger. I am pretty sure thinner as I was an average shaped kid. We will see. To be continued