Nourish and Nurture

Making Peace with Food

October 19, 2023 Miriam Hatoum Season 3 Episode 72
Nourish and Nurture
Making Peace with Food
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 72: Making Peace with Food

Making peace with food is a critical component of Intuitive Eating. Except for medical reasons and self-imposed ethical and religious reasons, it means that no food is off limits. That scares a lot of us because we often experience a loss of control when we eat foods that we have been depriving ourselves. From years of dieting, we have fallen into “Last Supper” eating, “Forbidden Fruit” eating, and “I blew it” eating.

This episode goes into all these behaviors which so often side track us from our intentions. I also share with you my own reflections about fears I have that are holding me back from finding my own peace. I was reminded that these are fears and not necessarily truths. It was also helpful to remember that this was only an exercise in awareness and not in passing judgment.

For this week's actionable coaching advice, I guide you through a food habituation exercise that is sure to help you get used to eating foods that you have 
 

Forbidden Fruit Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7142814/      

Get all my free guides
Take a look at three great new courses
Join me on Facebook
Follow me on Instagram
Check out Pinterest
And don't forget my book!


Episode #: 72.  Principle 3: Making Peace with Food 

You’re Listening to the
Keto and Low Carb Success podcast, Episode #72, Principle 3: Making Peace with Food  

Introduction

 Did you know that you don't have to spend money on a diet program or weigh, measure and track your food? What if you could learn to have success by following an easy roadmap that takes you on adventures from learning how to change your mindset so that you can believe in yourself, to learning about what foods work best in your body and why? Join me, Miriam Hatoum, health coach, course creator and author of Conquer Cravings with Keto, as I give you actionable coaching advice that is sure to empower you so that you will finally find peace with food and learn to trust your body’s signals. You’ve got this, girl! 

Be sure to go to miriamhatoum.com/resources to get all the free guides to help you along the way. I am in your shoes, my friends, and I wrote these guides for both of us. The link is in the show notes and transcripts.

Oh, and before we start, I want to let you know that the primary purpose of this podcast and the course is to educate and does not constitute medical advice or service, and I’m keeping up with the science as fast as I can so I can share with you the latest breaking research in this area to help you achieve your dreams!

How Do We Even Start?

Making peace with food is a critical component of Intuitive Eating. Except for medical reasons and self-imposed ethical and religious reasons, it means that no food is off limits. That scares a lot of us because we often experience a loss of control when we eat foods that we have been depriving ourselves. From years of dieting, we have fallen into “Last Supper” eating, “Forbidden Fruit” eating, and “I blew it” eating. 

Let’s take a look at each of these and see if you see yourself. 

“Last Supper” eating is when we are about to embark on a new diet, and we eat everything that we think we will never be able to have again. I found that I experienced this with all my stints on Weight Watchers. Although Weight Watchers has evolved in allowing everything, my “Last Supper” eating involved eating whatever I wanted without weighing, measuring, or tracking what I was eating. Yes, a sliver (however many ounces) of carrot cake might fit into my budget, eating a whole large piece that you can get at a supermarket would probably have used up three days of my Points budget. I ate without regard to how it made me feel, which is another component of “Last Supper” eating. 

With other diets I ate as much of any foods I was going to swear off while on the diet. This happened with any calorie-restricted endeavors, McDonald’s burgers and fries; cakes, cookies and candy; bread, crackers and pasta; pizza and Chinese food. It also happened with style diets such as South Beach, Paleo, and “Eat-This-Not-That” type of diets. Surprisingly this did not happen with Keto. Once I listened to Gary Taubes “Why We Get Fat and What to do About It,” I was scared enough and ready enough to just start that very day I decided to do Keto. 

This “Last Supper” eating is a real thing. Just out of curiosity, I put it into Google and came up with 23,600,000 results in about .32 seconds. The National Institutes of Health even have articles and studies about it. This is all to say that “Last Supper” eating is a normal event and you are not stupid or broken for doing it, but let’s find out why, and how to break the cycle. But first, let’s also look at “Forbidden Fruit” and “I blew it” eating.

“Forbidden fruit” eating is also a real phenomenon. Don’t think of zebras and then listen to the next sentence. There have been many studies on this concept. Okay, what were you thinking about? Zebras? Of course you were.  And, there are also National Institutes of Health studies and articles on the Forbidden Fruit Effect. These, and other studies show that anything which seems to be unavailable is, as a result, more desirable. Again, over 20 million hits on Google. I keep bringing this up to show you that you really must stop beating yourself up and realize that you are not alone.  Some studies have even demonstrated that your BMI influences how food is perceived and that the more restrictions you have by dieting, the more emotional arousal you may have when confronted with unhealthy products. This study is in the show notes and transcript.   

And what about the “I Blew It” eating? Because we are talking about real scientific terms here, this one is called the “What-The-Hell Effect.”  OMG put it into Google for yourself! There are 226,000,000 hits! Please forgive me because I always give you proper references, but this was just on the front page of Google (with no reference) and it is too good not to read to you:

“The what-the-hell effect is when you make one bad decision—such as eating a slice of pizza while on a diet—and makes it even worse—eating three more pieces because you already ate one. Rather than doing damage control and stopping at one, your brain says, “what the hell” and keeps making it worse.”

Okay – but WHY does “Last Supper” eating, “Forbidden Fruit” eating, and “I blew it” eating happen? It all comes down to deprivation or perceived deprivation.

Deprivation Effect and Paradoxical Rebound, terms used in the workbook are exactly what they sound like. You want to restrict foods in the name of health or in the name of dieting, and what you get is a rebound of eating and wanting them even more. With “Last Supper” eating it is the anticipation of having to give up foods. You are going into a new diet with high hopes of better health and/or weight loss. But the anticipation of deprivation drives you to behaviors and foods that are in direct contrast to what you are looking to achieve, so it’s a little bit of both the deprivation effect and paradoxical rebound. With the “Forbidden Fruit” and “I Blew It" eating there is no surprise here, and you don’t have to be a scientist to know that what you can’t have, you want. Remember the Zebras?

Another type of eating that was mentioned in this chapter was “Entitlement Eating.” This comes about when you have a rebellious streak. I always test as a rebel when doing any sort of personality test, and my favorite saying as to why I can’t stay on a diet is, “No one tells me what to do, not even me.” I almost fell off my chair when I read this section in the workbook. You mean it’s a THING????

The authors make the point that this type of eating is usually not satisfying because it’s not even about the food, it’s about making a statement. There is nothing to prove to myself or others. NOT doing something (whether it’s the food or exercises in this workbook) only hurts me. No one even notices or cares if I’m a strong and defiant rebel. Who cares? I really had to explore this because it is so hard for me to distinguish between fighting someone or standing up to something and just doing something because I actually want to, or, god forbid, the other person DOES know better and it would be good for me or I might even enjoy it. 

Habituation

To help you make peace with food, Intuitive Eating has us work on the concept of “Habituation.” Habituation is a decrease in response to a stimulus after repeated presentations. What does that have to do with finding peace with food? When you give yourself permission to eat what you like, whenever you would like it, you take out that deprivation and scarcity effect and replace it with habituation, meaning that you are no longer desiring that food in uncontrollable quantities or eating it at the speed of light. Your body and your mind know that it can have this food whenever they want it. And here I would like to quote from the workbook:

 “When you no longer feel you are depriving yourself of a food, it gives you the space that allows you to ask, Do I really like the taste of this food? Do I like how this food feels in my body? Would I choose to feel this way again after eating this meal or snack? Would I choose to eat in this manner again? After all, this will not be the last time you eat this food – so why would you want to eat it in a way that does not feel good or is satisfying?” (end quote)

Our dieting behaviors block the habituation effect of food. We set ourselves up for restriction and scarcity and so before we even start, we start thinking about zebras. That’s the “Last Supper” eating. With the “Forbidden Fruit” eating, that can come prior to the diet attempt and play into the “Last Supper” eating, or it can show up during a diet attempt when you have been restricting food in type and/or quantity. You don’t even have to be dieting at all. If you have all sorts of food rules dancing around in your head about what not to eat, just pick one out and that is your forbidden fruit. The “I Blew It” eating comes from the guilt that arises from eating anything off your food plan – even if the quantity is not enormous. Again, it comes from feelings of deprivation, scarcity, or the rules in your head. 

What is so awful about these types of off-plan events is that you set up a cycle of beating yourself up, which leads to more guilt, which leads to feelings of “See, I can’t trust myself around food,” which leads to the belief that you must go back to your diet, or worse yet, find an even stricter diet, thinking that a stronger fence will hold you in this time.  

All of this leads to never taking back your power and instead, putting the power back into diets – which never ultimately work – because of this deprivation and scarcity cycle. Breaking free from this comes from examining your fears that are holding you back but then moving forward anyway. It’s a very courageous thing to do Intuitive Eating the way it is meant to be done. 

Fears That Hold Us Back

One of the exercises in the workbook on this Principle was to question fears and reflect upon them. Just remember these are fears and not necessarily truths. It is also only an exercise in awareness and not in passing judgment.

 Here are some statements that were yes or no:

1.      Once I start eating a forbidden food, I won’t stop.

2.     I’ve tried it before, but it didn’t work.

3.     I won’t eat healthfully.

4.    I think that I am addicted to my forbidden foods.

5.     My friends or family will criticize my food choices.

6.     I don’t trust myself around food.

7.     I don’t deserve to eat these foods until I lose weight.

 Here are some reflections on each of these:

1.      Not being able to stop is a common fear. Unless you have an habituation experience (which I will talk about later), foods remain exciting and daunting. When you know a food is not off limits, you will hold space for the other things I talked about above. That is, you will eat it but because you are not zoning out by eating huge quantities quickly, you will be able to recognize whether this food is no longer worth it because of the way the food itself makes you feel. 

2.     When saying to yourself that “It didn’t work” think back. Did you really and truly give yourself permission to eat the food or did you place conditions on it, such as, “I’ll eat cake this time but only on my birthday.” So you are behaviorally giving yourself permission to eat, but you still have diet rules running around in your head. You are making deals, not giving permission.

3.     Eating healthy is a good thing. But, when you have a now or never attitude with the one food you are facing that is not healthy, you stir up deprivation and scarcity. Allowing yourself to eat it whenever you really want it, will open up that space again to explore whether it is really what you want at all. Make sure that you don’t make eating healthy into another diet rule. Do it because you want to do it because it makes you feel good or gets you to your health goals. 

 4.    Whether food is an addiction is an on-going battle. The way it was explained here, though, brought the most clarity to me. I talked about zebras now I am going to talk about dogs. Most of us are familiar with Pavlov and his work with dogs. Briefly, he paired ringing a bell with giving the dogs a treat which would make them salivate. Eventually just hearing the bell made the dogs salivate. They got to the point where the sound of the bell caused them to salivate. Bell = Salivate. 

With food, the mechanism is similar because food is pleasurable. When we need pleasure it is not abnormal to turn to food. We are bored, we eat. We get anxious, we eat. We get angry, we eat. We get embarrassed, we eat. Food can be a pleasurable escape route. 

 This is learned conditioning, not addiction. You are not addicted to the particular food. You have conditioned yourself to turn to food when you need distraction, comfort, or activity.  

 What is not so well-known is the corresponding study where Pavlov stopped pairing treats with the ringing bell, and eventually the dogs were deconditioned. 

So going out for a walk when you are bored instead of meandering into the kitchen really will go a long way to decondition the response to wanting food in a reactive way.

 5.     With trusting yourself around food, I talked about that cycle where deprivation and scarcity set you up to eat forbidden foods which sets you up for overeating, which sets you up to lose all trust in yourself, which sets you up to look for another diet. When you habituate to your forbidden foods, you break this deprivation and scarcity cycle, and you will begin to trust yourself around any of these foods. Trust takes time to cultivate and won’t magically be in your wheelhouse the first couple of times you allow yourself a forbidden food. It will strengthen and come to you more often the more you give yourself permission to eat something, not just make deals to allow yourself to eat it.

6.     With the fear that family and friends criticizing your food choices, remember, Intuitive Eating is a personal journey. I teach this in my course – that your friends do not need to understand your process – and they have no way of possibly knowing what YOU need and what YOUR thoughts and feelings are. All you need to do is ask them to respect that you are trying something new. Set that boundary and explore what they might be able to do support you. Sometimes that support will just be to ask them to say nothing.

7.     Thinking that you have to lose weight before you can do this is another fear. Although, I would say, maybe it’s not so much a fear as a misguided feeling that either you don’t deserve to eat the forbidden food, or that once you are at your desired weight it will mean that you have slayed the dragon and now can deal with the food.

 Are you ready?

 Following this exercise about facing what fears you have about food habituation, is an exercise on finding out about whether you are ready to make peace with food. I am going to read them here and think about whether your answers would be yes or no. You don’t have to answer yes to all, but if your answers are mostly no, then it might mean that you are not ready yet for this step, and that you must proceed at your own pace with whatever principles suit your situation best. For instance, you might need a month with your hunger and fullness cues, or a month or two on the principle that is about coping with your feelings without using food.  You can come back to the food habituation exercise at any time, and dive right in.

 The list of yes/no questions is as follows:

1.      I have an environment in which I am able to eat unrushed and without distraction.

2.     I am able to identify key vulnerability points – such as being too hunger, too stressed out, too tired, and so forth.

3.     I am able to clearly identify my biological cues of hunger, ranging from ravenously empty to pleasant and gentle hunger.

4.    I can clearly identify my biological cues of fullness, ranging from gentle fullness to painfully stuffed.

5.     I can distinguish between the uncomfortable sensations of guilt versus the uncomfortable sensation of feeling to full.

6.     I am able to cope with my feelings without turning to food.

7.     I can distinguish between being hungry enough for a meal or just needing a snack.

8.     I am able to experience pleasurable satisfaction from eating a meal.

9.     I am able to tolerate the uncomfortable feeling of being too full from eating without compensating by skipping a meal or exercising more.

10.  My food choices are not affected by the opinion of others.

 Without having any expectation, I was pleasantly surprised that I answered YES to all 10, so I guess I am ready to find peace with food!

THIS WEEK’S ACTIONABLE COACHING ADVICE

Again quoting here from the workbook, “Legitimizing your food choices through the process of habituation removes the thrill and urgency of eating the forbidden fruit. It calms your fears that you’ll never stop eating it. Ultimately, it’s a process of placing value on your emotional health and removing the morality from eating while increasing the flexibility of your food choices.” (end quote)

What I would like to do for this week’s actionable coaching advice is to give you part of the habituation exercise in the workbook. I did not do this when I first did Intuitive Eating all those years ago. I jumped immediately to “Eat all the things all the time.” Had I done this exercise, Intuitive Eating would have been a very different experience for me. This exercise is taken from the workbook but if you are thinking about making a commitment to Intuitive Eating, I would suggest that you do it directly from the workbook.

1.      Preparation: Choose a time when you are not likely to be too hungry (such as an hour after a meal). Choose a specific food. Decide where you will eat the food.

2.     Checking in During the Process: It is important to stay connected with your experience during the peace process. Here are some things to think about.

a.    Before: Take not of how you feel before you begin.

b.    During: How is the taste? Texture?

c.     After: Any surprises? Overall did the experience of eating this food meet your expectations?

Repeat this is as often as you want to with a forbidden food. I was very stunned to read that it is important to stick to the same food each time until you have habituated. In other words, if it is ice cream, eat the same flavored ice cream each time, otherwise a different flavor starts the experience all over again. This totally makes sense. Each flavor is a new and different experience. 

They do, however, promise, that after many experiences of eating a few different forbidden foods, there will be a shift and you will know to your core that you can eat whatever you want going forward. 

Next week’s episode

Next week I will look at Principle Four, Challenge the Food Police. OH MY! I thought this was all about external food police, but a great deal of the lesson has to do with your own internal food police. In other words, my own monkeys playing dodgeball in my brain! Tune in next week to hear about the lessons in unraveling self-judgment!

 If you are enjoying this podcast, I do have a favor to ask of you. Please subscribe to this podcast and leave a review wherever you listen to your podcast. It helps other people find it by bringing it up in the various directories. Also, don’t be a stranger. Come on over to my Facebook page, Breaking Free From Diet Prison, and let me know if there is anything you would like to hear on the show. 

 Please share the podcast with your friends, let them know we are going on an Intuitive Eating journey, and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become free from diet prison.

 Until then, go live free from diet worry — I’ll see you back here next time.

Forbidden Fruit Effect: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7142814/     
Get all my free guides
Take a look at this great course
Join me on Facebook
Follow me on Instagram
Check out Pinterest
And don't forget my book!