Last night a new show on TLC premiered called “I Can Make You Thin” (http://tlc NULL.discovery NULL.html). Although the title is a little too sensationalist, and the host, Paul McKenna, a little too showbizzy for my taste, I think this show is a welcome change from your usual weight loss TV programming.  Shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “Last 10 Pounds Bootcamp” are demeaning and mostly counter to what I believe constitutes a healthy lifestyle.  This show, on the other hand, doesn’t focus on militant dieting and exercise, but rather follows some of the basic principles of intuitive eating.

In this first episode, McKenna outlines what he calls the Four Golden Rules:

1) When you’re hungry, EAT: a revolutionary concept, I know.  But so many diets disconnect us from our own hunger signals, saying we should only eat at prescribed times.  This has two unfortunate consequences: either you starve yourself between meals, setting you up for a binge later on, or if you do eat between meals, you feel guilty for it.  In the end, the result is the same: you’re not listening to your body.  But if you start tuning into your own hunger signals, and actually give yourself permission to eat when you’re hungry, you’ll end the cycle of deprivation and guilt.  Check out the Hunger Scale (http://www NULL.julia-dinardo NULL.php/site/hunger_scale/) I have posted in my Resources (http://www NULL.julia-dinardo NULL.php/site/resources/) section to help you decide when you should eat.

2) Eat what you want, not what you think you should: another pitfall of dieting is you’re forced to eat certain things, instead of paying attention to what your body is telling you it wants.  I know, if you give yourself permission to eat what you want, you’ll live on nothing but pizza and ice cream.  Well, maybe for a while, but once you implement Rule #3, you might be surprised (do Twinkies really taste as good as a lovely chocolatine?).  By labelling certain foods as “bad” or “wrong” or “forbidden,” all you’re doing is making them seem more attractive.  If everything is permissible, then everything is equally attractive.

3) Eat consciously: this is by far my favourite rule.  When you’re about eat, sit down, take a deep breath and become conscious of the food you’re about to consume.  And as you eat it, take one bite, put your fork down, and chew it slowly and carefully.  Make a meditation out of it.  Turn off the TV, get rid of the newspaper, stay away from the computer and pay attention to your food and only your food.  Savour every bite, and go to almost theatrical extremes to enjoy it.  Don’t pick up your fork again until you’ve swallowed your last bite (this works wonders, believe me).  By doing that, not only are you actually enjoying your food more, it will take less to satisfy you.  Which brings me to the last rule…

4) When you think you’re full, STOP eating: this is a tough one for the clean-your-plate club.  But remember, it’s better to let the food go to waste than go to your waist.  Or you can always eat it later.  When you aren’t used to listening to your body it can be difficult to know when you’re full.  Try closing your eyes every so often and tuning into what your body is telling you.  The Hunger Scale (http://www NULL.julia-dinardo NULL.php/site/hunger_scale/) can come in handy here again.  If you’re still not sure, stop anyway.  And if you’re hungry 10 minutes later, eat!

Tune into TLC on Sunday nights at 9:00 to watch the rest of the series.