It must be her metabolism, right? I go on juice fasts, starve myself, count calories, weigh myself every day… but I only seem to get heavier and heavier. Yet she eats pizza, pasta, whatever she wants – when we go out for dinner and never puts on any weight - it must be genetic right?
WRONG. Whilst people’s metabolisms will vary slightly – numerous studies have shown that, the heavier you are, the higher your metabolism will be. Meaning that the heavier you are – the more you have to (and can) eat to maintain your weight. So, the reason your best friend seems to be able to eat whatever she wants and you seem to put on weight just by thinking about cake, has nothing to do with your metabolisms or genetic make-up … and much more to do with your brains and your thoughts around food.
What I have noticed about those people who are effortlessly slim, is that they eat intuitively. What I mean by that, is that they listen to their bodies – they eat when they are hungry, stop when they are full, don’t create rules or restrictions on what or how much they can eat and they enjoy eating and food. These people also don’t connect food with feelings of comfort– so whilst they enjoy food, they don’t think that eating will make them feel better when they are sad, lonely, bored or depressed. Effortlessly slim people don’t mix up a hunger for food with a hunger for love/companionship/entertainment/happiness/comfort etc…
And of course, the goal is not only to be slim (because it is possible to be slim and very unhealthy). I have noticed that those people that are both effortlessly slim and healthy, seem to see food as something which can provide their body with nourishment. So, these people choose foods which would be good for their body and make them feel good…because let’s face it, whilst that HUGE slice of chocolate cake may taste great at the time you are eating it – very soon you will be struck with huge feelings of guilt for eating it and you will crash and feel incredibly tired about 30 minutes later because of all of the sugar you have consumed.
Now that’s not to say that healthy or slim people never eat cake – of course they do…but they do it for a different reason. They don’t eat cake feeling guilty, telling themselves they are eating it as part of “one last” binge before they start their diet, they don’t eat the cake because they are stressed/tired/depressed or mad.
So, looking at these people who are effortlessly slim and healthy tells us a lot about why people struggle with their weight – and also we can all do to become effortlessly slim – and it has nothing to do with boosting our “metabolism”. The key to changing our weight for good, is to change how we think about food.
The people I see who struggle with their weight tend to over-eat at specific times – maybe it is late in the evening when they feel a bit tired, when they are stressed at work or when they feel particularly bad about themselves. Sometimes the triggers come from deep rooted beliefs about the role food has to play in their lives – maybe in their childhood they were rewarded with food when they did what they were told or food was their only comfort when they were going through a hard time. We don’t realise it consciously – but we form unhealthy patterns around food and eating very quickly. We seek out the temporary high we get from sugar when we are stressed, we want the temporary reward we get from a comforting meal when we are sad… but this gets us stuck in a vicious pattern of wanting more from food than nourishment. We are turning to food to become our therapist, our partner and our friend.
BUT IT DOES NOT HAVE TO ALWAYS BE THIS WAY. Whilst a diet or meal plan cannot change your thoughts and patterns around food in the long term – it is possible to use psychological strategies combined with good nutritional advice to change your relationship with food.
At The Food Psychology Clinic we help you to completely re-programme your thinking around food. You won’t reach for comforting foods just because you are sad anymore. You won’t eat just because you are bored. These are things you have done subconsciously – and these may even be patterns that you learnt when you were very young. We help you to unlearn these unhealthy patterns and to form more useful ones – so that you can enjoy food and eat what you want, when you want – just like those friends with a “fast-metabolism” you’ve been envious of for so long.