Wednesday, February 15, 2006
BYU News Release:"You have to say to yourself, I will not base my food intake on diet plans, food-based rules, good and bad foods, all of that kind of thing. For people who are deep into dietary restraint and dietary rules, again, that is a very difficult attitude adjustment to make, to give up all those rules. Behaviorally, the next step is learning how to not eat for emotional, environmental or social reasons. Socially we eat all the time in our culture, we go out to eat ice cream if we break up with our boyfriend, we eat to celebrate, we eat when we're lonely, we eat when we're sad, we eat when we're stressed out," said Hawks. "Being able to recognize all the emotional, environmental and cultural relationships we have with food and finding better ways to manage our emotions is part of the process." The final step is learning how to interpret body signals, cravings and hunger, and responding in a healthy, positive, nurturing way. Learning the body's signals can be difficult at first, but Hawks suggests thinking about hunger and satiety on a 10-point scale, where "10" is eating until one is sick and "1" is starving. Intuitive eaters keep themselves at or around a "5." If they feel they are getting hungry, they eat until they are back at a "5" or "6." They stop eating when they are satisfied, even if that means leaving food on the plate. One part of intuitive eating that may be counterintuitive to people conditioned to restrictive dieting is the concept that with intuitive eating there is a place for every food. In other words, there's no food that's ever taboo, there's no food you can't ever have. "Part of adopting an anti-dieting attitude is the recognition that you have unconditional permission to eat any kind of food that you want," said Hawks. "And that's scary for people who say, “If I abandon my diet rules, then I'll fill a pillowcase full of M&M's, dive into it and never come up again. That's what I crave, I know that's what I crave, that's all I will always crave.' But that's not the reality. The reality is that our bodies"rave good nutrition. "Dieting creates psychological and physiological urges to binge on taboo foods, and, although in the short term people may have binges when they first start eating intuitively, they eventually learn to trust themselves. One technique Hawks suggests is having an abundance of previously taboo foods on hand. Once the foods are no longer forbidden, a person quickly loses interest in them. "If people are committed to recognizing what their bodies really want, the vast majority of people will say that they very quickly overcame cravings," said Hawks, opening a drawer at his office desk filled with untouched junk food. "It certainly has worked for me."