Somehow I ended up on the WebMD mailing list, and I usually take a peak when it arrives in my inbox. This week it contained an article from Prevention called 8 Secrets of the Naturally Slim. I was surprised to find that it actually contained some good advice, but it was disappointingly diety in places. So now instead of people learning how the naturally slim eat, they are in danger picking up more diet thinking. So close, but yet still so far off the mark.
Here are the 8 Secrets of the Naturally Slim dissected.
1) They Choose Satisfied Over Stuffed - I have no issue with this point, as it is right on. They even invoke a hunger scale and suggest paying attention to your hunger signals while eating. Hurray! Score one for intuitive eating.
2) They Realize Hunger Isn't An Emergency - Another good point. One thing I learned through intuitive eating is that I had developed a fear of being hungry. I have heard other people say the same thing. I believe that the reason why people who struggle with food often view hunger as an emergency is because we have been on so many diets. We have forced ourselves to go without food when we were hungry. A natural reaction to that would be to fear hunger. I wish the article had said that there was a logical reason for this fear, but alas this wasn’t an intuitive eating article.
3) They Don't Use Food To Cure The Blues – Very true. This is pretty much the crux of emotional eating and the heart of why so many of us have a dysfunctional relationship with food. But their suggestions for how to get past this were too simplistic. They recommended that you try to figure out what your body truly wants and give it that. This is good advice, but it’s not that easy! They gave a one paragraph statement on how not to eat emotionally. That’s not exactly something that can be addressed in one paragraph, and I fear that doing so minimizes the gravity of the issue.
4) They Eat More Fruit – Now this is just stupid. I’m as happy about this one as I am about the advice that everyone should eat breakfast. I don’t like fruit, so I eat very little of it. Instead I load up on vegetables, which I love. If I forced myself to eat the 2-3 servings of fruit a day that they recommended, I would be very unhappy with my diet. I know from experience that making myself eat things I don’t like leads to binging and overeating. Hardly a recipe for being slim! I can’t stand food specific advice.
5) They're Creatures Of Habit – Now this one is even more stupid than the fruit advice. They actually suggested that you eat the same thing every day. They recommended, for instance, that you eat cereal every morning for breakfast and a salad every day for lunch. Now I know a lot of people would be fine with this. My mom happily ate a blt for lunch every day for four years. I, on the other hand, get bored if I eat the same thing for lunch two days in a row. I don’t even want to think about all of the binges I would have if I forced myself to eat the same exact thing every day.
6) They Have A Self-Control Gene – I don’t buy into this one, either. This self-control gene is another term for willpower. It’s a myth that willpower is necessary to be at a healthy weight. Don’t believe me? Try googling “willpower myth.” I know from my own experience that relying on willpower or self-control or whatever you want to call it in an attempt to lose weight is going to backfire. It’s only a matter of time until I crack and head into a binge. The desire to overeat needs to be addressed on an emotional level. This whole willpower/self-control thing is nothing more than diet mentality.
7) They're Movers And Shakers – I can’t argue with this one. Being active is obviously important for one’s health and well being. Although, I wish they had suggested finding an activity that you enjoy rather than emphasizing how many calories you are burning. It is destructive to think of exercise solely in terms of burning calories and losing weight. That’s just not a healthy outlook.
8) They Sleep--Well – I like this one, but I don’t think they should have been so specific about the whole eight hours a night thing. The point is that we shouldn’t be depriving ourselves of sleep. I think it’s good enough to honor your tired signals in the same way that you honor hunger and other natural body signals. Going for a specific amount of sleep regardless of how you are feeling isn’t very intuitive.
And they just had to throw in a quick tip in the end about the importance of eating breakfast. Argh!