Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 7th 2014 Contents A32
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, May 7, 2014
GIVE YOUR MOTHER THE BEST GIFT EVER,
THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER AT CIPRIANI COLLEGE
We live in a world in which we know
self-starvation is bad, but somehow
believe drinking only juice is good.
"Our obsession with appearance, our
fixation on diet and our food- and infor-
mation-abundant culture have given rise
to an epidemic of unhealthy relationships
with food," says Michelle May, MD,
author of Eat What You Love, Love What
You Eat. "Food has become our focus
instead of being the fuel for a full life."
To ease the stranglehold your diet has
over you, consider what about it leaves
you so powerless. Check out the fol-
lowing culprits. Chances are, you can
relate to at least one---if not all---of them.
You are ruled by rules
A healthy romantic partnership
revolves around compromise. Some
women, though, treat food like they
would an unpredictable puppy---some-
thing to be disciplined.
Ann, a photographer in New York
City, keeps a list of food rules on her
fridge. "Just a few," she says. "No sugar,
no white or fried food, no dairy, no
gluten and no carbonation. I do eat beef."
A woman from Orlando packs a separate
suitcase for her protein bars when she
travels to make sure she won t be tempt-
ed by dubious hotel offerings. On a
recent trip, there was an issue about
bringing food into a country. She freaked
out at immigration, ranted hysterically
and cried. The officials were so shocked,
they let her keep her bars.
This kind of rigidity is all about fear
of losing control, says Susan Albers,
PsyD, author of 50 Ways to Soothe Your-
self Without Food. "Our minds love to
think in black-and-white terms," Albers
points out. "Right versus wrong. Fat
versus thin. Perfect versus ruined." Or
that s how it might seem when in the
throes of an obsession.
"Some people feel lost without struc-
ture," says Mary Pritchard, PhD, pro-
fessor in the department of psychology
at Boise State University. "Walking into
a restaurant or opening a fridge kicks
off an algorithm of counting."
These thoughts aren t limited to type
As, though. They re on a mental loop
in many of our heads, thanks to an over-
load of (often conflicting) information
about what we should and shouldn t be
eating. And unless you clue into this
desire for dietary perfection, you can
do serious damage to your self-esteem.
"When you break a rule, that can spiral
into I m a bad person, " Albers notes.
"But food isn t good or bad. There are
50 shades in between. Rule-based eating
doesn t take hunger and cravings into
And that sets you up for a fall when
your stomach starts grumbling and
you re forced to deviate from your well-
laid eating plans. Instead of sticking
with a regimen, try to be a bit less strict.
"I encourage women to eat a wide
variety of foods," Albers says. "It s health-
ier from a nutritional and emotional
Of course, that s much easier said
than done. A half-step: Every day, break
your rules, just a bit. "Start small," she
urges. "A piece of bread. Pasta once a
week. When you see that nothing bad
happens, flexibility won t be as intim-
idating. You might even enjoy it."
You don't trust yourself
Another given in a healthy relationship
is trust---believing you and your partner
will do the right thing when faced with
temptation. In a dysfunctional "food-
ship" distrust can be rampant.
Rachel from New Jersey has a full bag
of tricks. "I use a timer between bites,"
she explains. "When I m done, I freeze
the leftovers so I won t eat them. My
boyfriend is in charge of doling out
snacks under the instruction that he
can t give me more than my allotment,
even if I beg."
It s not our fault that it s so hard to
resist chips and candy. It s plain biology:
Eating carbohydrates (plentiful in pizza
and cupcakes, but not so much in kale)
boosts our levels of the feel-good hor-
mone serotonin. And we may have
happy childhood associations with cer-
No wonder that some of us crave
comfort food when we re upset, bored,
lonely, etc. Stress triggers a jones for
sugar; cookies are readily available. If
you try not to think about the treat,
your mind just becomes fixated. So
when you finally buy the cookies, you re
too obsessed to stop at just one (or three).
If we were more mindful of hunger
cues, though, we d make better choices.
"Before eating, pause to ask yourself,
Does my body need fuel? Why am I
thinking about food if my body doesn t
need it?" Dr May says.
If you do need to eat, listen to your
cravings: Indulging a little now can keep
you from overdoing it later, Dr May
notes. As for how much to eat, your
body can help with that, too. "The right
amount is about feeling good," Dr May
says, and not uncomfortably stuffed
You beat yourself up
Imagine having a boyfriend who, after
you made a small mistake, called you
a worthless failure. You d dump his butt.
But many of us do the same thing to
ourselves if we dare to enjoy a piece of
cake. "The food-as-enemy voice shames
you for overindulging," Albers says. "The
food-as-friend voice is a cheerleader.
If you mess up, it encourages you to get
back on track."
To silence your inner torment, steer
dark food thoughts to the light. When
you re being hypercritical---I m a failure.
Everyone thinks I m fat---stop and listen
to what you re saying to yourself. Then
replace the harmful message with a kind
one, like No one s perfect. Over time,
this will become natural.
Some of us crave comfort food when we're upset, bored or lonely. If
you do need to eat, listen to your cravings: indulging a little now
can keep you from overdoing it later.
Speaking of family and friends, do
yours include dieters who are even more
critical than you are? They re not helping.
Your ideal dining companions: "People
who eat slowly and take pleasure in their
food," Albers says.
You really, really want to be skinny
A healthy relationship is honest. An
unhealthy one is full of deception.
There s nothing wrong with wanting
to be slim. But depriving yourself of cru-
cial nutrients (or eating only a select
few)---whether through cleanses, fasts
or cutting out food groups---and pre-
tending it s all for the good of your health
is a dangerous game. Ironically, it can
backfire and set off the "starve, binge,
hate yourself" cycle that makes you gain
And all that negative self-talk is no
recipe for weight loss, either.
Dr May says,"By obsessing about
weight loss, we re not achieving what
we re capable of. It s crowding out stuff
that s more important"---like our hap-
piness and well-being. (ABC)
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
To silence your inner torment,
steer dark food thoughts to
the light. When you're being
hypercritical---I'm a failure.
Everyone thinks I'm fat---stop
and listen to what you're
saying to yourself. Then
replace the harmful message
with a kind one, like No one's
perfect. Over time, this will
Signs your relationship with food is unhealthy
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