What to Eat: Three Questions to Ask Yourself

by Michelle May, M.D.

We are bombarded with conflicting messages about what to eat–often side by side on the same magazine cover. These confusing messages create internal conflict when what you want to eat must face off with what you should eat according to the latest expert.

Ironically, the definition of “good” and “bad” foods changes every few years so people feel confused and overwhelmed by all the conflicting and often arbitrary messages about what they are supposed to eat.

However it is possible to strike a balance between eating for nourishment and eating for enjoyment. In fact, one of the keys to optimal health and lifelong weight management is to nurture your body and your soul with the foods you eat.

So how do you drown out all the noise and find that balance when deciding what to eat? Start by asking yourself three simple questions when you’re hungry: “What do I want to eat?” “What do I need to eat?” and “What do I have to eat?”

What Do I Want to Eat?

The first question, “What do I want to eat?” may come as a surprise. But what happens when you try to avoid food you really want-like those Girl Scout Cookies that were delivered after you started your new low-carb diet?

First you check the label and confirm that they’re off limits so you put them in the freezer. Two days later they whisper to you from their hiding place, “Pssst. We’re in here!” You manage to resist them, instead munching on some olives, four cubes of cheese, a hunk of leftover meatloaf with a side of celery sticks, two pieces of low-carb toast–and yet you still don’t feel satisfied.

“Hey! We’re in here and we taste great […]

By |September 2nd, 2010|Food, Intuitive Eating, Mindful Eating|0 Comments

Beyond the Diet Mentality: Helping Clients Through Attuned Eating

This month’s article is written by Judith Matz, LCSW, co-author of The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self-Care and Beyond a Shadow of a Diet: The Therapist’s Guide to Treating Compulsive Eating.  I came across this article in the latest issue of Psychotherapy Networker, a magazine geared toward what’s new in the world of psychotherapy.  Aside from my obvious professional interest in the article, I was impressed with how clearly Judith outlines what it is exactly we do as therapists working with people who struggle with yo-yo dieting and emotional eating.  Although this article is written by a professional for professionals, I think it comes across as quite accessible and will demystify the whole process of how therapy and coaching can help you overcome your struggle with food.  Judith’s website can be found at www.dietsurvivors.com. 

Q: Many of my clients struggle with food and weight problems. I’ve helped them look at the emotional issues behind their overeating, but it doesn’t always help. What else can you recommend?

A: When I began treating clients with eating problems, I believed that once they understood the emotional triggers behind their overeating, their compulsion to reach for food would decrease–which in turn would lead to weight loss. Instead, I discovered that, although they could resolve issues around depression, anxiety, relationships, work, and self-esteem, conflicts with food and weight usually remained. In the early 1990s, after witnessing the failure of most diet programs, I learned a nondiet approach to treating compulsive eating, one that has enabled me to intervene directly in the diet-and-binge cycle and help my clients make peace with food, their bodies, and themselves.

In our culture, dieting is seen as the primary way to control […]

Dieting: The Worst Way to Lose Weight

It’s a familiar scenario.  You wake up on a Monday morning after a weekend of overeating feeling sick, bloated and disgusted with yourself.  The first thought that crosses your mind is, “That’s it, I can’t do this anymore.  Time to change my ways!  Today I’m going on a diet, and I swear I’ll stick to it this time!”

With renewed hope and optimism, you start your day off with a tiny bowl of fruit and pack a lunch with some raw veggies and lean protein. But by 3 or 4 o’clock you’re famished, and the battle begins. “Should I or shouldn’t I?” The vending machine calls to you, and after struggling with the impulse to resist for what seems like an age, you make a mad dash for a bag of chips.  On your way home, you stop for a burger and fries – because who cares, you blew it anyway.

Before going to sleep, you tell yourself that tomorrow is another day, and you’ll start fresh again…

Let Go of the Struggle

If you’ve tried every diet out there, from faddish to more sensible, you know this routine all too well. And you know that it never lasts.  Sometimes you’re “good” for a week, sometimes you don’t make it past breakfast.  And if you actually manage to stick it out long enough to lose a decent amount of weight, somehow it eventually seems to creep back on.

And here’s the sad truth: 95-98% of all diets fail. If your doctor recommended a treatment with that kind of failure rate, would you eagerly rush in?  Somehow, I don’t think so.

It’s so easy to blame yourself for this neverending yo-yo cycle. After all, it’s […]

By |May 6th, 2010|Dieting, Mindful Eating|0 Comments

15 Tips for Holiday Eating Without Weight Gain

by Michelle May, M.D.

Do you anticipate the holidays but dread the “inevitable” holiday weight gain? Do your holiday events revolve around eating more than the meaning, people, presents, decorations, or travel?

Avoiding holiday weight gain and eating healthy during the holidays can be a real challenge unless you have a great strategy.  These 15 holiday eating tips will help you avoid holiday weight gain and enjoy the season more while eating less.

1.  It is easier to get distracted from signals of physical hunger and satiety at social gatherings, especially if food is the main event. Make an effort to pay close attention to your body’s signals.

2.  Be a food snob. Skip the store-bought goodies, the dried-out fudge and the so-so stuffing. If the food you select doesn’t taste as good as you expected, stop eating it and choose something else. Think of how much less you’d eat if you only ate things that tasted fabulous!

3.  Think of your appetite as an expense account. How much do you want to spend on appetizers or the entree? Do you want to save some room for dessert? Go through this process mentally to avoid eating too much food and feeling uncomfortable for the rest of the evening.

4.  Pace your eating prior to the event so you’ll be hungry but not famished at mealtime. But please, ignore the old diet advice of “eat before you go to a party so you won’t be tempted.” That is absurd! You want to be hungry enough to enjoy your favorites.

5.  Socialize away from the sight of the food. People who tend to overeat are “food suggestible” so just hanging around food […]

By |December 3rd, 2009|Emotional Eating, Food, Mindful Eating, Tips|0 Comments

How to Be a Food Snob

I’ll never forget the day I figured out I was a food snob. There I was, sitting in a graduate seminar chatting with a colleague, when she pulled out a granola bar that looked interesting.  I said, “Wow, I’ve never seen that kind before, but then again I never buy granola bars.” And when she replied, “Of course you don’t, you’re a total food snob!”, I was taken aback.  Was this an insult? After a few seconds, I thought, “Yes, yes I am a food snob!” and thanked her for her compliment.

What is a Food Snob?

What the heck is a food snob, you might ask, and why should you be proud to be one? Good question!  A food snob is someone who has an epicurean zeal for high quality, fresh and fancy food.

Here are some of the traits and behaviour patterns of a food snob:

* They prefer to buy their food from specialty shops; bread from bakeries, meat from butcher shops, and nuts and grains from bulk food stores.

* When in a suburban-style mega-grocery store, they mostly avoid the centre aisles, opting instead for fresh produce and dairy.

* They don’t buy things that come in crinkly bags or brightly coloured boxes with cartoon characters on them.

* Whatever they do buy from centre aisles has to be imported from some foreign country and in a glass bottle with a fancy label, thank you very much.

* They love to visit farmer’s markets, and pick out local produce with the eye of a jeweller choosing the finest gems.

* They also love to try new things; the more exotic and unpronounceable, the better.

* When eating out, they get excited by hole-in-the-wall restaurants that serve […]

By |September 3rd, 2009|Emotional Eating, Food, Lessons in Living, Mindful Eating, Tips|0 Comments

Great article on intuitive eating

Check out this great article on intuitive eating I found.  The reporter describes a woman in California who is about to conduct a clinical study to evaluate how effective it is.  I think this is GREAT news, because very little attention is usually paid to overeating in the research world.  Most studies on eating disorders focus on bulimia and anorexia nervosa, but rarely (or never) on the overeating without purging.  Looking forward to seeing the results!


By |August 22nd, 2008|Emotional Eating, Mindful Eating|0 Comments

Back from Florida: Some observations on eating

Last week my husband and I returned from a two-week trip to Fort Lauderdale. I promised my newsletter readers I’d comment on some of my observations I made while down there, and here they are.  There are really two things I want to discuss – how I managed to keep up my own healthy eating habits and some of the ways American eating habits differ from our own (in Canada).

First off, it was surprisingly easy to stick to my intuitive eating habits that I’ve been developing over the last little while. I was actually stressing out a little before I left because I thought I’d be tempted to eat everything in sight because I was on vacation.  I was also worried that even if I wanted to make healthy choices, I’d be stuck with eating crap food from American chains like Cracker Barrel, McDonald’s (the horror!), and T.G.I. Friday’s because of a lack of proper restaurants that were reasonably priced.  Boy, did I surprise myself!

I found it was actually easier to eat intuitively while on vacation. No schedules, no running around and no stress meant that I could lounge about in the sun all day and eat whenever I felt like it, which was usually at very odd times of the day.  My day ALWAYS starts off with a healthy breakfast, so I just kept up that habit.  Having a mini-fridge and microwave in our room meant that we could do groceries and prepare a few of our own meals rather than have to eat out three times a day.  It also meant eating only when and if we were hungry.  Much to my delight, it turned out that there was […]

By |August 11th, 2008|Food, Mindful Eating|0 Comments

The real definition of conscious eating

There’s a lot of buzz these days about conscious (or mindful) eating. This usually refers to being fully present and conscious while you are eating, paying attention to the taste and texture, as well to your body’s fullness signals.  A very important part of having a healthy relationship with food.

But how conscious are we really of what we’re eating? My mom sent me an email today warning against buying chicken from China (http://www.snopes.com/photos/food/chinachicken.asp), and while the jury is still out on the validity of these claims, it does raise some interesting questions.

When picking out your produce or animal protein, do you ever ask yourself:

* What were the conditions in which the animal lived?

* How was the animal killed, and under what kind of conditions?

* What kinds of chemicals was the food exposed to (fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, toxins in the earth/ocean/food chain)?

* Where was this food grown?

* Were there enough nutrients in the soil in which the food was grown?

* How was the food harvested?

* Was it ripe when it was harvested?

* How far did the food have to travel before getting to your supermarket, and under what conditions?

Food for thought, indeed.

By |June 13th, 2008|Food, Mindful Eating|0 Comments