If I was a betting woman, I’d bet that many of the people reading this essay need remedial education on how to eat.
As in: we need to go back to the basics.
Just like most “basic” skills (walking, breathing, making a peanut butter sandwich), the basic skills of eating actually have a couple of nuanced components. Here are just a few:
You are able to easily tell when you are hungry.
You are able to easily tell when you are no longer hungry, and feel comfortable stopping eating at the point of satiation/fullness that makes you feel good.
You are able to balance consuming foods that are pleasurable to taste versus foods that make your body feel good.
You are able to distinguish between eating that is meant to resolve hunger vs. eating that is meant to resolve other problems (e.g., you don’t feel like being at work, you just got home and are tired, etc.)
But before you start worrying that this seems too complex, remember: if you tried to break down walking or making a peanut butter sandwich into all of their component parts, it would seem complex too.
These skills are actually simple. A toddler knows how to start eating when they’re hungry, pick foods that make them feel good, and stop when they’re full. This is a natural skill.
It’s just that many of us have spent years ignoring and overriding these signals for a variety of reasons. Maybe we’ve put ourselves on diets. Maybe we’ve pushed ourselves too hard at work and school, so eating was the other acceptable way to get pleasure and release stress.
If find yourself “unhappy” with your eating (or, given the society we live in, “unhappy” with your weight), it can be tempting to try to do something complex like go on a Keto diet, or try Intermittent Fasting.
But do you truly have a handle on the basics? Because if you don’t, it’s like trying to run a marathon with a sprained ankle. If you’re incredibly lucky, you might make it to the finish line, but you’re going to cause a lot of damage on the process. And most of us will fall over in pain just a couple of miles — or yards — in.
If you’d like a reminder on how to re-learn the basics of eating, there are two Dessert Clubs in 2019 that might interest you. Or if you do better with individual attention, I also offer one-on-one coaching.