For a bit of a change, this week I focused my Martha Beck post on the relation of eating habits and the brain. Those of you who know me well are aware of my late-night sweet attacks, when I feel as if I cannot write a single word unless I have a big pile of Oreos by my side. It is contributing to what my friend Andy Wibbels aptly called Bookfat which is an ailment that plagues first-time authors (I read his description and wept — with laughter and empathy).
I wish I could say that writing this post totally eliminated my sugar habit. Awareness is the first step, so tonight I will try to examine my thoughts instead of raze a pile of cookies. Wish me luck!
Do you ever fantasize about looking in the mirror and using one of those magic "before and after" wands to shrink your chubby thighs to the size of a long distance runner’s? I know I do.
We are bombarded by weight loss commercials, fat-free food and stick-thin Victoria’s Secret models wherever we go. Yet we persist, at least in the United States, in being one of the chunkiest people on earth. We eat without abandon, then try to balance our excess with a variety of fad diets. Low carbs one day, high protein the next, lemon juice and cayenne pepper fasts wreak havoc with our minds and bodies.
Switch your focus from your body to your brain
The real problem is that we have been obsessed with managing our bodies, when in fact, the attention needs to go to our brains. Martha explains:
"People get fat because their brain’s calibration of the amount they need to eat, and the amount of intake they should store as calories, is altered by neural structure and its interface with the endocrine system. The starved and frightened brain drives overeating and low metabolism. The calm and secure brain drives a very different set of biological motivators and consequences. In other words, when your brain is fixed, you eat less and burn off excess as heat, whereas the "famine brain" caused by stress and hunger– including dieting — really does make you consume more and store more as fat."
How to calm down famine brain
The first step to getting a handle on the state of your brain in relation to food is to examine the thoughts that lead to feelings which lead to actions which lead to results.
Thought or Belief: I have so much to do! I am overwhelmed.
Feelings: Stress. Fear. Anxiety.
Action: Stuff 42 M&Ms in your mouth
Result: Stubborn metabolism and no chance at fitting in those skinny jeans
Change your thoughts, acknowledge your feelings
read the rest here (the full post contains a 20-minute recording of a coaching session where my friend weight loss coach Lisa Cavallaro tries to get at the heart of my Oreo habit)
Just back from listening to your coaching conversation with Lisa and also leaving a ‘war-and-peace’ length comment 😉
One thing has struck me on visits from Japan to Hawaii, California and the East coast.
The physical plate sizes (and hence the portions) are mostly way bigger than anything I’ve seen in Tokyo (or even in UK, for that matter).
I was often unable to finish even starter dishes in the US sometimes! (made the mistake – once – of ordering a starter and 3 dishes + fried rice in a Washington Chinese restaurant. That was some giant doggy bag I took back to my hotel lol)
And your Oreos (while yummy) are about 3 times larger than the titchy ones sold here!!
Just a cultural observation – not a criticism!
Hey Pam, love this. Definitely true that “what resists persists.” Sitting and feeling a feeling all the way through works in this sense (over-eating) as well as in many other situations where we are fighting with ourselves internally. For example, when experiencing fear over business/professional decisions. Being fully present with it and letting it wash over us completely almost disarms its power in a way. Good stuff.
This is where it’s at – mind over stress reactions – mind over muscles – reaching for those addictive sugar snacks – creamy, chocolately…yeah.
Wellness coaching is a new business getting a page in Newsweek a few weeks ago. SparkPeople is working away at the friend/family encouragement connections (and will any luck so will I.)
Thanks for your detailed post. It’s starred in my RSS feed.