Sunday, September 6, 2009

Eat Whatever You Want, Whenever You Want It

In my 20s and 30s I was quite the industrious baker. I made killer oatmeal cookies, amazing carrot cake that people who hated carrot cake loved, and lots and lots of home-baked bread. And more often than not it all disappeared within a few hours. If I baked cookies, that was my meal, or meals, that day.

I knew this was not healthy eating, and even though I only did it periodically, I began to think about what, other than taste, was my reward for this. And the answer for me was, there wasn't any.

Although this was not my intention, in realizing my life was not better or happier because I ate whatever, whenever —and indeed I felt and looked unhealthier— led quietly to the quieting of my cravings. When I turn down a dessert, friends look at me like I'm crazy, or as if I am making some huge sacrifice. They're even threatened, because I can say no effortlessly —and genuinely mean it.

Overeating is an emotional problem, not a physical one. Nobody is 50 pounds overweight because they are physically hungry: it's because they are emotionally hungry.

Wanting food —the amount, the type— is an emotional decision for most people. People put the weight back on when they end their diet because they ended their diet. Who is too stupid to make this connection? Apparently, millions, as witnessed by their astonishment that returning to the eating habits that made them fat in the first place causes them to return to their previous condition of excess weight, and the self-righteous claim that "diets don't work".

Until we understand why we want certain foods in excess amounts, nothing will really change. The trouble is, most people don't want to find out, as most emotional eating stems from an unpleasant experience they have yet to deal with.

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