My Food Rehab

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

I just finished The End of Overeating, by David Kessler and I have found that its recommendation to me was a matter of good timing and great understanding. For those unfamiliar with the book, it is an expose of sorts of the food industry in America -- from processing, to marketing, to merchandising and restauranting. It explains how foods and menus are devised not only in large portions that we have all become aware, but also to be so tasty that we want to come back for more. Specicially, it cites how combinations of fat & sugar or salt & sugar make the mind and body want more. The book also reveals how marketing and psychology playinto the American food experience. And how visual and emotional cues can trigger overeating.

The book recommends a Food Rehab type of experience to help people to break old unhealthy habits. I am working on m own food rehab rules and I am liking the way this is going. Here are some of the conditions of MY food rehab:

- I am trying to snack only once a day, because for me, more frequent visits to the kitchen lead me down a path of overeating. It is a trigger.

- I am consciously avoiding foods which are largely a mixture of fats & sugars or salts & sugars --- this means processed snacks (I'm not much of a restaurant eater). I have recently made my own trail mix of nuts, raisins and just a few high-quality choc. chips for times when I want a crunch or a mix of sweet and salt.

- I am consciously eating more dairy protein and more fruits and vegetables, which help me feel full.

- I am writing down what I eat -- for some reason, just simple notecards is working best.

- I am avoiding refined sugars. This is due mostly to the NYT article about sugar which preceded my referral to the book. No candy. No cookies. No ice cream. (almost) No splenda in my coffee -- I'm trying to convert to maple syrup or honey.

-I am being mindful about when I choose to eat, trying to avoid the habits of eating mindlessly in the evening.

-I am avoiding entering the house through the kitchen at night -- as that is a trigger to eating.

The thing that I find most fascinating about "my food rehab" is that I have known that I need to do these things for a long time. I have read somewhere - often many different places -- about each of these strategies. I have tried to implement most of them before mostly because I read that it worked for others.

But reading this book (and that NYT article) have appealed to my intellectual side. I guess just being told i should do something is not enough for me. Understanding why food does certain things to my body or mind is proving to be the key for me to embrace change. Understanding human response to stimuli helps me to understand how to override it.

What I have been wanting in the 16 months since I joined SP and probably honestly for the past 15 years of my life is a new attitude toward food. I believe I am now on that path. I also understand that it is likely to take some time to effectively override old habits. It feels ok though. I get it. I cannot fix in one day what truly some 40+ years of habit has made.


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