In this Thursday Therapy episode, Glenn gives you his three favourite ways to stop eating yummy food when you’re not hungry.
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- Viewer question on how to stop eating because it’s so yummy! [00:31]
- Mindful-intuitive eating. [01:30]
- A key principle of mindful-intuitive eating: Listening to your hunger and fullness. [01:38]
- Mindful-intuitive eating for people who had a history of yo-yo dieting. [01:50]
- Practicing listing to your hunger and fullness. [02:18]
- Paying attention to the eating experience and the “Law of Diminishing Food Pleasure”. [02:37]
- Overcoming the psychological barrier of feeling you need to eat everything in front of you. [04:00]
Hi everyone, welcome to Thursday Therapy. It’s Glenn Mackintosh, the weight psych, and today’s question comes from Janelle. Janelle asks, “Glenn I have a question for your Thursday Therapy; how can I break free from my eating beyond the point of satisfaction and rather, listen to my intuition and be “happy” (in adverted comas) to stop eating? Sometimes the total eating experience just feels so good and so enjoyable, I don’t want to stop. Looking forward to hearing your answer.”
Great question Janelle. This is something that I get asked by people all the time, and what I want to do is, I want to give you a few good answers that you can then experiment with and have a play with and I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of people in your boat, so I’d encourage you all out there to experiment have a play with these ideas. The first thing is that what you’re really talking about is ‘mindful’ or ‘intuitive’ eating. Mindful and intuitive eating is so similar that I talk about mindful-intuitive eating as if they’re almost the same thing. You can go to our website and look up a reminder of the five principles of mindful eating.
One of the key ones is listening to your hunger and fullness. So, the good news is that mindful eating is a skill just like kicking a football, just like riding a bike you can learn it and one of my colleagues, Linda Bacon, in her research, she showed that people who were big people in the “obese” category, even though I don’t like those words, and people who had a history of chronic dieting, chronic dieters, even though I don’t like those words, were actually able to learn mindful or intuitive eating skills. So, my first answer for you to play around with is practice. Practice practice, practice, and like any skill you’ve learned in the past this will become natural. Very different to dieting skills like keeping a food diary that no one can do forever, these skills do become normal and natural over time.
The second answer I have is actually another part of mindful intuitive eating which is paying attention to the eating experience. If you pay attention to the eating experience, you might notice what we call the “law of diminishing food pleasure.” Now what this means is that often the first few bites are the yummiest bites of any food and then after a while our enjoyment of them goes down quite drastically. I first learned about the “law of diminishing food pleasure” from Dr. Rick Kausman, who developed this theory around this law, and we were sitting in a room with about 90 people and he asked us to just choose whatever food we wanted.
So, we could choose fruit or bread or chocolate or lollies. Any particular food and he just asked us to rate the pleasure that we experience with each mouthful, and every single person in the room had the same experience; is that the pleasure was really high for the first few mouthfuls and then after just a few mouthfuls it really started to drop off. So, if you can acknowledge the law of diminishing food pleasure for you, what you’ll notice is that those later bites actually probably don’t make you as happy and then you’ll be happier to leave that food. Now the third idea, that might help you break free from this having to eat all of the food because it’s there, is to see if you can overcome that psychological barrier that a lot of people that I see may have, where you feel like you have to eat everything just because it’s there. Now this could come from you being told that you you’re a good boy or a good girl if you ate everything that was on your plate.
You might have been told to think about people who are less fortunate than you. You might have got the reward of having your dessert if you finished everything that was on your plate or you might have been able to make sure you had enough because your brothers and sisters didn’t have their hands in your food and so you had to finish everything that was on there and kind of guard your food. There are plenty of reasons why you’ve probably been conditioned that you have to eat everything. What I’d encourage you there, is just to shake up that little belief in your brain that you have to eat everything, is next time you go to eat one of these really yummy foods, just leave the tiniest amount.
The tiniest amount that a dietitian wouldn’t even be interested in, the tiniest amount that that on a calorie counter or in terms of weight watcher’s points, would make no difference at all, but in your mind, you’re slowly just destabilizing that idea that you have to eat everything that’s on your plate.
So, thank you for your question and thank you for listening to Thursday Therapy. We need to get these psychological ideas out. Psychology, I feel, is the missing piece of the puzzle in weight management. So please, if you haven’t already, subscribe to Thursday Therapy and share it with anyone who you feel it might benefit. Thanks so much.