Today’s article in The New York Times entitled: “Instead of Eating to Diet, They’re Eating to Enjoy” (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/17/dining/17diet.html?ei=5070&emc=eta1),
reinforces what I have been preaching about in my practice for years and what I teach parents to do so that kids have good eating habits: “Enjoy eating! No guilt allowed.”
See, the problem with guilt, is that when you eat and feel guilty, it doesn’t taste as good. When it doesn’t taste as good, and your guilt doesn’t allow you to really savor the taste, feel it in your belly, you don’t click into the sense of satiety, that signal that tells your brain that you can stop eating.
Yeah, yeah, I know it is a complicated thing, our relationship with food. Eating with enjoyment is something we can communicate to our children and helps them develop healthy eating habits.
Today’s article quoted a study that basically gave evidence to my “A chocolate bar a day, (or whatever your favorite thing is), keeps the fat away” theory. Basically in a nutshell, it showed that when women focused on enjoying food and adding in more healthy food as oppose to decreasing their fat consumption and being too depriving, that they invariably took in fewer calories and lost 20% more weight than the women focused on what not to eat.
The way it works, is that when you don’t focus on deprivation, you have room to feel that you are done. When you don’t think that whatever the food is that you love or crave is disappearing, then you don’t have to eat everything else in sight to satisfy that craving. I call that the old ‘Eating Around the Bush’ thing. You know, when you crave a Snickers’ Bar but you don’t think you should eat it, so you eat the apple, carrots, yogurt, and ultimately, about 2,000 calories later, usually eating the Snickers Bar. (Or 5 or 6!) This is a lot more calories than if you had had the roughly 250 calories of Snickers Bar. Or that if you ‘add in’ healthier foods it will become easier in a less ‘frought’ way, ultimately resulting in fewer calories being eaten.
Now none of this is new. There have been a lot of books written on the subject, but this is the first wave of healthier attitudes nationwide that I have been seeing.
I am relieved to see that we are less focused on anti-carbs, or anti-fat only foods.
Perhaps this wave will give us an appreciation for the needs children have to eat all things as well, including sugar and help those parents navigate the terrain of: “One more cookie! One more cookie!”
Let’s keep doing this for our kids. Teach them well. Teach them to enjoy eating. I promise it will keep them full.