Do you binge because you're eating for emotional reasons, or because your body isn't designed to say no to hyper-palatable food?
To change how you eat, should you love yourself, or be tough on yourself?
And it is better to learn to eat intuitively, or to create hard and fast rules?
The problem most of us face is that we think in either/or terms. The answer to each of the above questions is “Yes and Yes.”
And until we can learn to become pragmatic and undogmatic, we'll continually deploy half-solutions based on these half-truths.
This video is sponsored by Howard's weekly group coaching call. You can apply here.
Hey, Howard Jacobson here with Sick to Fit. I want to talk about three paradoxes that can paralyze us when we're trying to figure out how to get our eating under control, how to lose weight, how to get healthy, how to feel good about ourselves. And because they're paradoxes and because both ends of each paradox have truth, we can really go crazy and fight with ourselves and end up getting nowhere. So I'm going to break the three down for you.
The first one is what's the cause of our desire to binge on foods are urged to eat things that aren't good for us.
So on the one hand, you have a whole movement that says it's basically emotional comfort that you're eating because you're uncomfortable with something you're unhappy about, something you're trying to avoid, something you're trying to get high to drown something out, and that the real solution is to just sort of sit with your feelings and pay attention to them and settle your real needs.
There's another view that comes out of the whole food plant-based community, and it was popularized by The Diet Trap by Alan Goldhamer and Doug Lisle, which says that basically these foods are engineered to be hyper palatable and are natural survival drive that wants us to get calories whenever we can as much as possible is being manipulated in this current environment of 24/7, cheap, convenient, easy, fast processed, highly addictive, highly palatable food.
And there's nothing we can do about it.
So I'm here to tell you that both are true.
And when we stick to one side and hang onto it, we can feel very, you know, doctrinaire and righteous, but we're missing out on various solutions that are available to us.
So let me explain how this works. If you think that it's all about your emotions, then you can also get the thought, well, I have to solve my emotions before I can solve my eating.
I have to fix my relationship with my mother. I have to get over this fear of failure. And these are pretty deep, long term issues. And if your mind says I've got to solve that before I can stop overeating, then you're basically setting yourself up for, if not complete failure, a really long slog.
What about on the other hand, if you simply accept the idea that this is biochemistry, it's neurology, it's our evolutionary psychology, and we're just driven to eat whatever is in front of us and has nothing to do with emotions or sadness or feelings of discontent or lack of fulfillment or whatever.
Then we are going to create very, very rigid constructs, very rigid rules, dos and don'ts, put fences around fences and we're going to miss the opportunity to actually heal our minds, heal our spirits in the space that we create when we don't immediately indulge those.
If I soothe myself with French fries or Snickers bars and one day I set a rule and say, well, French fries Snickers bars are hyper palatable. They're not good for me.
So I'm not going to have them anymore. And there's a minute in which I'm really struggling and fighting, but I'm resisting that urge.
All The Pleasure Trap there is in that space, in that space between the stimulus, the urge and my giving into it an incredible universe, an infinity of possibility for emotional healing to figure out what's actually going on that's driving me in that moment to overeat. Because as true as the hyper palatable theory is, we don't eat all the time. We don't eat junk food all the time. We are more susceptible at some times than others. We're more susceptible emotionally, sometimes than others.
And there's great wisdom in there. So we want to hold on to both so that we have an entire continuum of strategies to deal with that. Second thing is there is a movement in the world around.
You have to love yourself.
And that's the most important thing. And there's another movement that says you have to do hard things like not eat your favorite food some time or do hard workouts or force yourself to get up in the morning.
And those can feel like a conflict that loving myself means treating myself kindly, nicely, not saying, come on, get your butt out of bed and go running now or do those push-ups or no, you can't have the ice cream. So how do we resolve this paradox? And the answer is, think about yourself as two people, think about yourself as a nurturer and as a toddler.
So you can imagine sort of pushing your shopping cart down the supermarket aisle and the toddler sitting in the shopping cart and the toddler is screaming and kicking, having a tantrum, trying to reach for the Frosted Flakes and the Oreos, trying try trying to reach for the Ritz crackers and the cheese wheels.
And you know that that's not good for that child. And so you want to keep pushing the cart. You want to not yell at that kid and say you're bad. But how do you show love to a toddler who's having a temper tantrum? You show love by not giving in, by not making them in charge of what they eat while giving them good alternatives and continuing to love them rather than saying you're a bad toddler, what's wrong with you? Why do you want these bad foods?
So that's where we get confused. We think that self-love means we have to give in to ourselves when in fact self-love means we set those boundaries are higher selves are more rational, forward thinking, strategic, holistic parts of ourselves recognize that there are forces in us that simply are psychopathic and we can't let them run the day. And this because they're psychopathic doesn't mean they're bad, right? A toddler, a two-year-old, you wouldn't make them president of your country - for eight years anyway.
You wouldn't make them president of your country because you know that they don't have the impulse control or the wisdom to make good decisions. And so the toddler inside us has to be nurtured, taken care of without being made to feel bad, without being made to feel less than without being made ashamed. So that's how we can deal with that second paradox.
The third one is between I need rules, I need systems, set ups, clear consequences versus what I should really want is to be intuitive, is to just let my inner wisdom answer the questions for me of what I should eat.
After all, when I sleep at night, my body to such an amazing job of keeping my blood sugar, my blood pressure, my hormonal balance is incredible feats of homeostasis to keep me alive through the night when I'm out, when the conscious thinking part of me that I think of as Howie, the big brained Howie that knows how I know how to do things, is completely unconscious.
And the body, the body is doing perfectly without the ego, without the eye. So why not eat that way. Right. And then there's the other one. This is well how I've been doing so far. Intuitive eating has made me eat a bunch of chocolate that makes me want to know, give excuses for things like, oh, maybe I need calcium so I better eat that cheese or I better have that yogurt.
The truth is that we can learn to be intuitive, but only when we are clear on how to separate signal from noise and only when we have a sufficient and relevant data set to act upon. So you're not intuitive from day one? Babies aren't intuitive about don't touch this, do touch that they learn. They're constantly evaluating their environments and learning from it. And if we only grew up in an environment in which there was natural healthy food available to us, we could eat intuitively.
But our intuition has been shot by, again, this presence of this weird, fake, hyper palatable food is being marketed out the wazoo to us.
So that's a few people can make a lot of money at our expense.
And we wonder why our calibration is so far off.
So until you clean up the inputs, don't expect that intuition is going to work. And the other thing is that intuition being intuitive is always preferable. We don't create rule. When we are successful navigating through the world intuitively, we create rules when intuition breaks down. So there is room for both.
So I want you to see how these various external debates can get into our heads and can stop us from doing the things that we need to do that are good for us because we have some sort of doctrinaire belief in this versus that we become very dogmatic about what should be working as opposed to being curious, playful, practical, scientific, pragmatic and let results dictate the sufficiency and efficiency of what we're doing. So I want to close this by offering you a chance to participate in an amazing group.
And it's a group of us who are meeting every Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time on a Zoom call. And it's group coaching. And we deal with stuff like this and we deal every week with several people's issues. And there's something about the group that actually I think is more powerful than one on one coaching in a lot of cases. And so if you'd like to work with me and with a group of other really heartfelt, kind, supportive people to have a group where you can go every week and it's not a group of like sharing our sorrows, it is a problem-solving group.
We go deep into what the issues are. And if you're confused about is it intuitive eating I need or is it rules I need, we break that down and you'll get coaching and assignments to bring into the week to then bring back into the next coaching session. The cost for this is one hour a week and the cost is one hundred dollars a month. So twenty-five bucks an hour and you can sign up only the only way to sign up is on a month by month basis.
I'm not having any long-term plans. There's no commitments. You just try for a month. If you go to the first session and you don't like it, of course I will refund your money. This is there's no risk at your end and you can stay in the group as long as you want if you're interested.
The link is SickToFit.com/coaching. There's no information there. Just what I told you. If you'd like to give it a try to join this group, if you've been stuck for a long time, if you feel like you're confused by all the different points of view out there, and you'd like a pragmatic guide and a supportive community, give it a give it a try. Check it out.
I hope this has been helpful. Have a great day.