Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rethinking Thin Chapters 6 and 7

I'm going to do these two chapters together because the information in them is very closely related. The chapters are a little longer, but we're going to have two weeks this time to catch up on reading.

Remember the super fat rat from the study?

The science of weight has made leaps and bounds in the last decade or so. One monumental finding was by Mr. Friedman with the help of his fat rats. Together they tracked down the the hormone called leptin. Remember leptin... that little hormone that resides in your fat cells and tells your brain when you've had enough to eat? Turns out leptin is only one hormone in a complex series that effects our weight and appetite.

Then there's Mr. Rozin and his scientific studies on the psychology of eating. What are the tricks our brain plays to cause us to eat? What are some visual cues that help us eat less or cause us to eat mindlessly and more than we need? We do so much eating that we aren't even aware of, yet our body weights tend to stay steady over time. So much at work in these bodies and minds of ours!

Turns out, our bodies are incredibly complex when it comes to eating, appetite and weight. It seems silly that any one diet or eating plan would actually work for just anybody, thus more evidence that we can blame the process of dieting and not ourselves when our weight loss efforts fail in the long run. Dieting seems like a fruitless effort to outsmart a very, very complex system. It's seems were doomed to lose, most of the time, when we play the diet game. It makes more sense to me to work with the system that God put in place instead of trying to fight it.

I might be a little naive here and probably simplifying too much, but after reading these chapters and all the different scientific findings, I've decided that Intuitive Eating is more sound than ever. I think these studies reinforce the fact that our bodies know what they need. The best way to maintain a healthy, normal weight is to listen to our bodies, tune into them, and respond to what they tell us. Rid yourself of all those outside messages and let your body do the talking. It seems to me that if you can allow your body and brain to subconsciously do the work of controlling your eating, you'll naturally gravitate towards your ideal playing weight (unless there is something distinctly wrong with your system, such as the girl with no leptin). Intuitive Eating is the key to helping you learn to let you body and brain do the work. Of course nutrition plays a part in this (certain additives can contribute to the drive to overeat and things like that) and we will get to that later, but I think our bodies can even help us know what is good or bad for them if we just listen.

What did you learn from chapters 6 and 7? Do you agree or disagree with my little assessments above? Why or why not?


  1. Finally, I break my silence. . . I will do just a little catch up info from my side of this issue since I haven't commented at all yet. I have never actually been on a diet. I would definitely say that I go through periods of time where I am a more "careful eater" than others, but in general, I eat what I want. This is not always good though as I also go through periods of time when I do not listen to my body - only to my tatse buds, or my emotions. I would classify myself as a waste not, refuse not, emotional eater. (I know I'm way behind on this info.) Although I am not currently happy with my weight, I am more concerned about my overall health which includes my weight.

    I have been trying to employ some of the intuitive eating ideas as I have been reading -some of them I previohsly did, others not so much. One small "success" I felt came a few weeks ago. I had been sitting in the rocking chair all day long holding my little guy who was sick with pneumonia. When Darin came home from work and put dinner on the table, I wasn't able to go eat - Jacob was in a particularly miserable mood and just needed to be held. At about 10:00 that night Jacob (and everyone else) was finally asleep and I realized that I had never eaten dinner. Now normally, I would have fixed myself a plate of food because after all, you need to eat dinner, right? Instead, I thought, "Am I even hungry?" All I wanted was an orange. I ate it, loved it, and went to bed. It felt great. I know, a very small victory, but it just felt good to actually listen to my body rather than habits. One of the lines in "Intuitive Eating" I have loved and thought about a lot is "If you don't love it, don't eat it. If you love it, savor it." That has helped me make a lot of smarter (and more fulfilling)eating choices over the last few weeks.

    Now, about the actual chapters I'm supposed to be talking about. . . I was fasctinated by the science behind all of this. It makes so much sense to me. I mean, why wouldn't an all knowing God make our bodies with these amazing systems . . . and we mess it up by being out of touch with our spirits. I recently reread a talk from Susan Tanner (former general YW president) from conference a few years ago. You may remember it - it was about modesty and loving ourselves for who we are. (Elder Holland also gave a talk that same conference about on similar topics. The two talks are combined in a small book called "Modesty, Makeovers, and the Pursuit of Physical Beauty" - I would recommend it highly.) Anyway, Sister Tanner gave an example of her mother being asked to gave family prayer by her father. Her mom then said quietly, "I don't feel very spiritual tonight. I just ate three of those rich sweet rolls," (referring to some very big, yummy sweet rolls she had made earlier that day). I had to laugh intially, but I then realized how true that comment was. When I offend my physical body by overindulging in anything, my spirit is also offended. This just testifies to me that our Heavenly Father has put in place systems within my body that also affect my spirit. They are there as safeguards. After reading these chapters (I actually read them a week or so ago), I watched my scale from time to time, and sure enough, it didn't really matter what I ate, my weight stayed the same - it has for about a year. I think I am probably at the upper end of that 20-30 pound zone that the author suggests we all have, but I don't think that a diet would change that. I think employing intuitive eating strategies more consistently as well as actually exercising (I am fairly sedentary right now) would bring me down to the lower end of that range.

    Oh boy, I've been rambling . . . if you are still reading, I apologize for my disjointed thoughts. To wrap up, I am really enjoying these books and the info the present. I am trying to make changes in the way I think about (and eat) food, and especially about my amazing gift of a body. I am trying to bring my phsical desires more in line with what my spirit urges - and I feel great every time that happens.

  2. Kim:
    You're not rambling at all. You hit the nail on the head with everything you said here. I love the story about the orange. Way to listen to what you really wanted and not eat a plateful just because you "should." That's what intuitive eating is all about! You're baby steppin girl!

    Also, one thing I've always noticed about you that has been inspirational for me has been the fact that you eat slowly an unrushed. Even when everyone else is rushing through dinner at top speeds you just take your time. I know this is healthy and has been an advantage to you. Now all you need is to learn that you're not wasting if you don't clean your plate.

    I read the Susan Tanner talk too just recently. You're so right when you say that your spirit and your body are connected. Over eating to the point of sickness can be offensive to the spirit because it makes our bodies feel terrible.

    I here you on the excercise thing. This is a part of intuitive eating that I'm working on. Learning to FEEL the benefits of excercising and letting those feelings motivate me to do more of it.

    Thanks for you comments. Glad you're enjoying your reading. Love Ya.

  3. I'm trying to catch up to where you are in this book. I really am enjoying it! I'm on chapter 6.

    I was thinking when I was reading it about how I've read things put out by the fitness industry that say things like, "Just eat 100 calories fewer a day and you'll lose 10 pounds in a year" or the other way around, "If you overeat by just 100 calories a day you'll gain..."

    Hearing those things put the fear in me a long time ago. I have always imagined my body as needing a fixed amount of calories, and if I overeat even a little, the pounds are going to jump up on me. I realized as I was reading this what a ridiculous idea that is. I think it's amazing how our bodies are made.

    I agree that intuitive eating is the only way to truly take care of our bodies the way we need to.