Yes, we all know how to eat when we are born! It is instinctive. So where does the confusion enter? Why do so many people come to me seeking advice about how much they should eat, when they should eat, why they should eat, . . . ? “Should” is not my favorite word. In fact, when it comes to finding an ideal way of eating, I find it pretty worthless. Why? Because it invites us to tune out of our innate knowing and focus on ideas we pick up along the way, some useful and many downright wrong for us.
I had a discussion about this with a client who is exploring (for the first time in decades) what his real food needs are and which beliefs are hindering his ability to meet those needs. There are many, but his ability to notice them is allowing some basic problems like physical discomfort to be solved with a remarkable lack of suffering. Ironically, breaking a few of his unsupportive food rules from the past have made the changes seem more comfortable than holding onto them. Here are a few food rules we discussed – actually fairly common ones that many of us grew up believing:
- Clean your plate. (There are starving children somewhere in the world.)
- Don’t turn away free food. (Duh!)
- Don’t eat now! You’ll ruin your appetite.
For him, all of these were keeping him from getting what he really wanted from his food, but #3 was by far the most crippling in his attempts to keep from being over hungry. Permission to eat a healthy moderate snack around 4:30pm made it possible to avoid obsessing about hunger on the way home, and not surprisingly, it allowed him to sit down and enjoy a reasonable dinner without overeating from over hunger. Continuing the new habit is self-supporting, because he feels so much better physically, and he is building self-control at the same time.
What will you teach your children?