What is your relationship with food? And what is your relationship with hunger? These are the sorts of questions I ask you to wrestle with in Fat Chance! The no-going-back Weight Loss Workbook. It is a workbook after all – I’m not here just to tell you what to do. You have to dig deep.
Welcome to the fifth Fat Chance! weight loss blog. The answers you give to these questions are important to understanding why you may carry too much weight; and adopting the right relationship with food (and hunger) is critical to shifting that weight.
Do you love food? If your relationship is one of love, it is also probably also a love–hate relationship. Is food your lover one moment, providing happiness, acceptance and comfort, but the next moment your enemy, filling you with guilt and angst? Your lover has betrayed you. The passion was only fleeting and temporary, until the next time you need a moment of instant joy and satisfaction, and then the cycle repeats.
Or is food your friend, offering companionship and understanding? Is it reassuring and non-judgmental? But again your friend betrays you, offering only fleeting and shallow friendship before leaving you disempowered. It is a false friendship.
Food can be your friend. But a better way to describe this is to think of food as your ally: something that builds you up and empowers you, giving you energy and fuel to live your life fully. It is important in weight loss that we don’t think of food as our enemy. Many people ask me: “Can I eat this?” or “Can I eat that?”. They see food as good or bad and many foods as their enemy, to be avoided. But if we begin to see food as our ally, there is no such thing as good and bad food – please get rid of that idea, nothing is prohibited – and we can use food to help us lose weight!
There are two principles at work here in the Fat Chance! approach:
If we eat a healthy balanced diet, full of lots of fruit and vegetables and other good things, your body will be getting all the nutrients it needs to function well and so it won’t need to go searching for more food.
- We can choose foods that reduce our hunger and keep us satisfied for longer. One of the most important food groups here is protein. I do recommend you incorporate protein into every meal – it really does help sustain you for longer. The second is to eat low-GI complex carbohydrates (wholegrain products) and avoid or greatly reduce simple carbohydrates (sugar, white bread and so on) because they make you feel hungry again too soon.
If you combine protein with complex carbohydrates together in a meal you really will notice a difference. Many recipes in Healthy Food Guide do this. Focus also on eating lots of fruit and vegetables and drink lots of water. And learn to really enjoy a healthy balanced diet! In learning new habits like this you can turn food from being your enemy into your ally and then into your friend again. But this time your friend will be a true friend and supporter, with you every step of the way.
But what about hunger? I’m writing as if hunger is something to be avoided. Is hunger your enemy? Are you eating to avoid getting hungry? You should also see hunger as your ally. Hunger is not something to be feared and avoided but simply a helpful signal from your body that it would like to eat at the earliest available opportunity (that is, within the next half an hour or so).
So when you are hungry – eat. It’s as simple as that. Not eating when you are hungry risks your body thinking you are in a famine and rebounding later. But eat wisely, using food as your ally. Focus on what you can eat, not on what you can’t. When you master these new habits you will have skills for life.
Join me again next time.
Susan Maiava PhD is the author of Fat Chance! The no-going-back Weight Loss Workbook, available from Paper Plus, Whitcoulls, independent bookshops and Online at www.fatchance.co.nz (free delivery in NZ). RRP $39.99. Fat Chance! is ideal for groups. Professional enquiries also welcome.