It’s NOT about the food 6/05

June 2005

If you’re like me, you’ve probably made an emotional purchase at some time in your life. It could be one that cost you thousands and thousands of dollars, like your house. You started out with a list of must-haves because, “this is a very important purchase.” And before you knew it, you ditched the list. You just bought the house you fell in love with. You knew it when you walked in the door. “This is it. It just feels right. The kitchen needs a little work, but . . .”

Every good real estate agent knows what just happened. It’s not about the features. . . . and successful weight management is not about the food. It’s about when and why we eat it.

Please understand, I’m not recommending a donut diet. What and how we eat is vitally important. What I’m saying is, we more than likely won’t find a permanent fix for weight management through dieting alone. Because we often live and eat unconsciously, we often eat for the wrong reasons.

Yes, food offers comfort and pleasure, sometimes making it difficult to notice we’re in the process of consuming king size quantities of it. What food doesn’t do is fill other voids that we unconsciously use it for: boredom, loneliness, fulfillment. Ask yourself if you are using food as a distraction to avoid feeling or noticing what is really going on in your life. Is eating your response to stress? Can you recognize and differentiate true hunger from other feelings? You might think you’re hungry when you are simply no longer full, when the clock strikes noon or when you run out of things to do.

I find myself thinking about food when I transition from one activity to another. I’ve come to realize it’s not a space in my belly. It’s simply a space in time, best used for something other than eating.

My clients often tell me they don’t eat for emotional reasons. Then they eat their words. The next time you catch yourself embracing a banana cream pie, eating at breakneck speed or just eating differently, you might want to ask yourself why. Do what you can to identify the need you are trying to satisfy by eating, and then meet that need in a healthy manner that serves you.

When we live balanced lives that support us in every way, we don’t unconsciously turn to external solutions like food, shopping, work or alcohol to fulfill us. Until we find that balance, which includes identifying why we feel the way we do, we give in to the weakness that provides short-term gratification.

You’re probably reading this and wishing it weren’t so, that dieting has GOT to be easier than examining your behavior. Somehow, I doubt it.

I’ve just opened the new front door a crack. This time, try staying with the features you know are important – like conscious consumption and continuous self-awareness. Trust me, it will just feel right.

And don’t worry about the kitchen – because it’s not about the food!