The holidays are often a time of stress, especially when it comes to food. So many temptations! So much dessert, so little time!
The key to learning how to eat so our body is both healthy and satisfied is found in understanding why we are drawn to eating certain foods. Turns out, learning to stop eating is not about willpower, but actually about biochemistry.
Satisfying foods contain natural fats, such as coconut oil, butter, full-fat dairy (like cream) and other naturally occurring fats. This is true because our body requires naturally occurring fats for survival. The part of our brain that drives us to eat (and then tells us to stop!) is constantly looking for this critical ingredient. Once we find and give our body natural fats, our body rewards us with a wonderful feeling of satisfaction, and then our body lets us know it is time to stop eating.
Natural fats come with a wonderful built-in ability to limit our consumption of fat. We can not comfortably over-eat natural fats. To have this experience, sit down with a stick of real butter. Take a small bite. Feel the sensation in your mouth, belly, and head. How does it make you feel? Then take another bite. Now imagine eating the entire stick. Your body is probably sending you a very clear message not to continue this exercise. A little bit of fat goes a long way!!!
Holiday desserts used to be made with real butter, real cream, and real lard. They were extremely satisfying and we did not overeat them because of the built-in limiting power of natural fats.
Since the early ’70s, however, these amazing and natural foods have been improperly vilified, erroneously thought to be the cause of heart disease. Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that natural fats ARE NOT THE CAUSE of heart disease and stroke.
Unfortunately, the belief in this bad science lead to the rise of artificial fats, which include vegetable oil, canola oil, Crisco, and margarine. All of these fats are actually very bad for our body.
The functional reason we eat at all is to provide our body with the ingredients needed for maintenance and repair activities. Artificial fats do not provide any useful ingredients and are actually inflammatory to the body. When we eat them, artificial fats cause damaging inflammation to occur, which requires resources to control. This damage results in our body requiring the intake of nutrients to help fight the damage occurring. As a result, our body sends us the message “I’m HUNGRY!”
Back to the holiday buffet spread out in front of you. The pumpkin pie that used to be made with lard in the crust and full-fat whip cream on top is now made with margarine and fat-free-whip-cream-like-substance (does anyone actually know what Miracle Whip is made of?!?). When we eat this combination of sugar and man-made artificial fats, our body is lit on fire, does not get any useful ingredients and now requires rescue. It quickly sends us the signal “Eat more food, “ which we do by eating yet another piece of pumpkin pie with fat-free-whip-cream-like-substance on top! We continue this entire process until literally, no more pie will fit in our stomachs.
When we overeat, we have given our body something empty and damaging. It must continue to seek out real food. When eating a certain food causes us to be more hungry, our body is not asking us to continue eating the substance in front of us. It is actually asking us to eat something real.
Try this experiment. Bring some real whip cream to put on the next slice of pie you eat. Plop a good sized blob right there on top! Make sure each bite includes some of that wonderful fat. Give each bite your full attention. When you feel satisfied, stop eating. Have the experience of food making you feel satisfied instead of full.
Eating nourishing foods that our bodies recognize can be a fulfilling and a wonderful experience. Learning to eat the foods that satisfy us will lead away from foods full of emptiness and inflammation. The experience of eating until full is replaced with satisfaction and new “self-control.”