What Chatty Kathy tries to tell me about making peace with food…

So the idea is that I need to learn that food is food. It does not have power, it is neither good nor bad, and when I am hungry – I should eat.

You will just keep eating and eating and eating!

When you ate that before, you ate too many pieces, too much!

If you can eat whatever you want, you won’t ever eat anything that is healthy!

You can’t be trusted with food!

Okay, now that I have firmly placed a gag over Kathy’s mouth, let’s look at these. Realistically. First of all, there is a phenomenon called the Habituation Response. Essentially what happens is we get used to something. Have you ever been in a room with some sort of noise – say a clock ticking loudly? You notice it at first and then, over time, you no longer notice it…unless it stops ticking. Habituation is when we adapt to a repeated stimulus or experience. When you no longer are thrilled each time you drive your new car or wear a new outfit. You may still enjoy the experience, but it is no longer exhilarating. What about someone who compliments you every day? Over time, it becomes less meaningful to you. The same happens with food. The more we eat something, the less special it becomes. When we diet, “forbidden foods” don’t get a chance to gain habituation status.  As Tribole and Resch point out, part of the purpose behind having unconditional permission to eat is to experience habituation – the newness, the novelty of that food and eating it diminishes.

Trusting myself with food and to make good choices will have to come with time. In relationships, we generally don’t give all of our trust to someone without some experience with their record of making good choices and decisions. In many ways, I have treated myself as though I could not be trusted with food for much of my life. Consider having good and bad food lists, counting calories, logging food. All of these things signal that I am unable to make the best choices based on the signals my body gives me. How do I really know whether or not I can be trusted? Obviously Chatty Kathy doesn’t trust me. But then I don’t really trust her!

Here is what I am seeing – I have not been eating all of the snacks I bring for the day (before this change, I would eat every bite). My lunch choices yesterday and today have been healthy, filling, and satisfying (raw broccoli, pita, and hummus). I tasted a cookie yesterday and when I found it to be bland and unappealing, I threw it away. I did eat a different cookie; however, I enjoyed every bite and ate it as a snack when I was hungry.

As I reread the things that my inner dieting, body-shaming voice (Kathy) says to me…it occurs to me. I wouldn’t let anyone else talk to me that way. Why do I say it to myself?!?

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