Most systems of dieting are externally driven and externally monitored.
You visit a nutritionist or a large weight loss chain and are given a program: how many calories, how many fat grams, carbohydrate portions, points, etc. You then write down what you eat and report back, getting weighed in. The fear of accountability to an outside authority is supposed to keep you in check.
This is what I call extrinsic eating. It’s operating from outside yourself, not a part of your essential nature.
I am a highly trained nutritionist myself.
I too can give you carbohydrate counts, calories, protein grams, fat grams, menu plans, food lists, snack suggestions, the whole nine yards.
However, I like to teach what I call intrinsic eating. That’s learning how to take your power back to operate from within yourself, from part of your true, essential nature.
Believe it or not, your true, essential nature is to be naturally thin.
Not only will you know when you are hungry and when you are full, you will know which foods will make you feel great and what naturally to avoid. You won’t be a slave to your insulin, to your stress hormones, to food additives or to food addictions.
It won’t be a struggle because you will be guided from within.
Just as training wheels are helpful when learning to ride a bicycle, extrinsic systems of dieting may be helpful at the beginning of a process of learning how to eat healthy. They can set up boundaries and give you a sense of the territory.
These are a dime a dozen, even if it does add up to a multimillion dollar industry.
“I have every diet book on your bookshelf,” I have heard more than one overweight client say to me.
Lots of people know all about the calories, the fat grams, the carbohydrate counts, the points and the systems, but they don’t know how to live at their ideal weight.
This is what I really want to teach you.
At the end of the day, either you get tired of reading the diet books, you forget it all or you just choose to decide for yourself how best to eat.
If you don’t learn how to be intrinsically motivated when you eat, you can lose 50 pounds following a plan and then gain all of it back and then some.
Extrinsic eating means continuing to be the Pavlov dog. You respond to external cues rather than your own highest best interests.
A client I saw recently told me she had lost 50 pounds following a well-known weight loss chain. “I followed their plan because it works,” she told me.
It never occurred to her that maybe the plan hadn’t worked because she had regained a good portion of the weight.
She had learned how to lose weight but she had not yet learned how to live as a naturally thin person. She could manage a plan but she hadn’t yet learned how to manage herself.
Externally motivated people continue to respond to the sight of food (the see-food diet). They also respond to their own emotions (“I’m upset, therefore I have to eat to deal with my feelings”). They are easily manipulated. They never quite get off the guilt/shame/fear cycle. It’s easy for them to give up completely, coming to the conclusion that they can never be thin. The processed food manufacturers just love these people because they are a slave to food additives. The manufacturers know there is good hard science behind why the externally motivated people can’t eat just one potato chip. The externally motivated people want instant everything. Instant satisfaction, instant weight loss.
Internally motivated people have learned how not to be manipulated. They may get stressed, but they have methods and systems of dealing with their feelings that do not involve food. That means they are more spiritually advanced. They recognize that they have emotions, that they have bad days just like everybody else does, but they choose not to let those bad days ruin their relationship with food. They aren’t addicts. You can take them to eat anywhere – a restaurant, a cruise, a birthday party – and they eat pretty much the same way as they usually do. They eat the same amount whether they are happy or sad. They can also look at something and know intuitively whether or not it’s good for them. They don’t feel guilty or ashamed about eating. They enjoy their meals. They aren’t afraid of food. They are in charge of when they eat, what they eat and how they eat. And they are capable of delayed gratification. They are willing to build a healthy body over time.
As you learn how to do intrinsic eating, it gets easier and easier to maintain your ideal weight.
Learning how to have a healthy relationship with food is a life skill, like learning to balance your checkbook and live within your means.