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No diet, no detox: how to relearn the art of eating | Bee Wilson

Food preferences are learned

All the foods that you regularly eat are ones that you learned to eat.  Everyone starts life drinking milk. After that, it’s all up for grabs. 

But in today’s food culture, many people seem to have acquired uncannily homogenous tastes: food companies push foods high in sugar, fat and salt, which means we are innately incapable of resisting them but that the more frequently we eat them, especially in childhood, the more they train us to expect all food to taste this way.

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No diet, no detox: how to relearn the art of eating | Bee Wilson

No diet, no detox: how to relearn the art of eating | Bee Wilson

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jan/05/diet-detox-art-healthy-eating

theguardian.com

9

Key Ideas

The art of eating

... is a question of psychology as much as nutrition. We have to find a way to want to eat what’s good for us.

We make frequent attempts – more or less half-hearted – to change what we eat, but almost no effort to change how we feel about food: how well we deal with hunger, how strongly attached we are to sugar, our emotions on being served a small portion.

0.3% of young women are anorexic

... and another 1% are bulimic, with rising numbers of men joining them.

What statistics are not particularly effective at telling us is how many others – whether overweight or underweight – are in a perpetual state of anxiety about what they consume, living in fear of carbs or fat grams and unable to derive straightforward enjoyment from meals.

Healthy vs. New

Consumer scientists have found that when a new product is described as “healthy”, it is far less likely to be a success than if it is described as “new”.

Many people have absorbed the lesson from childhood that vegetables and pleasure – and more generally, healthy food and pleasure – can never go together.

Once we accept that eating is a learned behaviour, we see that the challenge is not to grasp information but to learn new habits.

Once we accept that eating is a learned behaviour, we see that the challenge is not to grasp information but to learn new habits.

Viewed through behavioural psychology

... eating is a classic form of learned behaviour:

  • There is a stimulus – an apple tart, for example, glazed with apricot jam.
  • there is a response – your appetite for it.  
  • finally, there is reinforcement – the sensory pleasure and feeling of fullness that eating the tart gives you. This reinforcement encourages you to seek out more apple tarts whenever you have the chance and to choose them over other foods in the future.

Food and dopamine

Food-seeking learning is driven by dopamine, a neurotransmitter connected with motivation.

This is a hormone that is stimulated in the brain when your body does something rewarding, such as eating. Dopamine is one of the chemical signals that passes information between neurons to tell your brain that you are having fun. It's one of the mechanisms that “stamps in” our flavour preferences and turns them into habits.

Changing food habits

There are 3 big things we would all benefit from learning to do: 

  • to follow structured mealtimes
  • to respond to our own internal cues for hunger and fullness, rather than relying on external cues such as portion size; 
  • to make ourselves open to trying a variety of foods. 

All these three can be taught to children, which suggests that adults could learn them too.

For our diets to change...

... as well as educating ourselves about nutrition, we need to relearn the food experiences that first shaped us. The change doesn’t happen through rational argument.

It is a form of reconditioning, meal by meal.

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Paleo concept

Humans evolved on a diet very different from today's eating habits. To be healthier, leaner, stronger and fitter, we must re-think our diet and remove some of the food groups we ...

What to eat
  • Animals (especially a "whole animal" approach, including organs, bone marrow, cartilage, and organs).
  • Animal products (such as eggs or honey).
  • Vegetables and fruits.
  • Raw nuts and seeds.
  • Added fats (like coconut oil, avocado, butter, ghee).
What to avoid
  • Grains, although research suggests eating whole grains improve our health and appear to be neutral when it comes to inflammation.
  • Heavily processed oils, such as canola and soybean oil.
  • Legumes, although research suggests the benefits of legumes outweigh their anti-nutrient content. Cooking eliminates most anti-nutrient effects. Some anti-nutrients may even be good.
  • Dairy.

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Mastering mindful mealtimes
  • Cook or prepare food yourself if possible.
  • Don’t scroll through social media when eating.
  • Turn off all streaming services.
Intuitive eating
  • It does not approve the diet culture.
  • It respects all body shapes and sizes.
  • It helps you recognize your body’s cues for hunger and fullness.
  • It helps you evaluate habits you want to change, but without policing food.
  • It helps you liberate from food’s control.
  • It makes you see food as fuel rather than filler.
Being in Control
Being in Control

To be in control does not mean restraining. A person who is in control should have the capacity and freedom to self-govern.

Rather than fighting with your body, provide it with an auto...

A Holistic Approach

Accepting that it is ok to make mistakes makes us patient and kind towards ourselves, and keeps us on track with our diet goals, as we understand that our urges to overeat are part of the process.

Instead of obsessing over the 'diet' mentality,  it is better to focus on your behavioral changes and new habits, incorporating certain activities in your routine. The focus should be on a healthy and holistic lifestyle.

Eating to Relieve Emotional Discomfort

Eating can be an emotional activity, with deep connections on how our brains and bodies work. Emotional overeaters are:

  • Having a feeling of resentment after neglecting one's own needs to appease others.
  • Feeling undeserving of their success, with a fear of being shamed.
  • Being a perfectionist and being constantly anxious about the possible mistakes.
  • Suppressing of all negative emotions.

Overeaters tend to have an 'all-or-nothing' approach oscillating between an all-good diet or an outright unhealthy one, depending on the particular underlying emotion.

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