Do you practice Fat Thinking, or Trim-Slim Thinking? When compared to people who have weight problems, people who find it easy to stay trim and slim seem to have a different way of thinking about food and weight management. By becoming aware of those differences, you may decide to adapt some new thinking patterns.
Overweight people tend to find comfort in food. Trim-Slim people, by contrast, seldom look to food for comfort when experiencing difficult emotions. In fact, sometimes stress actually diminishes their appetite! They might say, “I’m too upset to eat!” They have other strategies for coping with stress, such as confiding in a friend, gathering information, and mapping out a plan of action. When they get stuck in unwanted emotions, they seldom soothe themselves with food. They choose other soothing activities, such as listening to music, taking a hot bath, going for a walk, or journaling.
Fat Thinking says, “I’ll eat now, because I may be hungry later.” People who are naturally slender eat when they feel hungry. They eat for one meal at a time, without thinking ahead to the next meal. Sure they might feel hungry later, but they don’t mind feeling a little hungry now and then. If they need to keep up their energy and blood sugar levels throughout the day, they carry healthful snacks with them wherever they go, so that they won’t be tempted to eat junk foods.
Overweight people may eat due to external cues–such as seeing an advertisement about food, seeing other people eat, smelling food, or seeing food. The Trim-Slim person eats in response to bodily cues indicating hunger. Those cues might be a hollow feeling in the stomach; a tired feeling or difficulty concentrating, which indicates a need for an energy boost; or a taste sensation in the mouth, indicating a desire for a specific flavor of food–salty, savory, sweet, or sour. Sometimes they drink a glass of water before deciding whether they are truly hungry, to avoid confusing hunger with thirst.
Fat Thinking leads to eating beyond the point of satiety. Some overweight people say they eat too fast, they don’t think about how much they are eating, and they are not aware of what feeling full is like. One way to be Trim and Slim is to eat slowly and with consciousness, being aware that the average adult human stomach can hold only about two heaping handfuls of food (about the size of a small cantaloupe) and being very much aware of that stuffy, heavy fullness in the stomach that indicates the point of satiety. At that point, a Trim-Slim eater does not want another bite, no matter how good the food tastes, because an overstuffed stomach feels like having a boulder in the belly.
Fat thinking endows food with meaning. For example, “Cheeseburgers are my downfall” or “Mashed potatoes and gravy are my comfort food” or “Chocolate is my friend” or “The cookies in the cupboard are calling to me.” To a Trim-Slim person, saying such things is utter nonsense. It would never occur to a Trim and Slim person to say such things about food, because food “is just something you eat when you feel hungry–otherwise, it’s no big deal.”
Some overweight folks avoid getting on the bathroom scale because they get depressed when they see how much they weigh, and they feel bad about themselves. This is often how their weight got out of control in the first place–because they didn’t keep track of those extra pounds. Trim-Slim people weigh themselves regularly, to check on any extra pounds that might be sneaking up on them. They also monitor how their clothes fit to stay aware of weight changes. They take action at the first indication of those few extra pounds by cutting back on some high-calorie foods, skipping a few snacks, substituting low-calorie foods and drinks, and getting more exercise than usual. To a Trim-Slim person, the bathroom scale is a dependable source of feedback and a vital tool for weight management. Numbers don’t lie! A Trim-Slim person would tell you that not checking the bathroom scale is like driving a car without a gas gauge or a speedometer!
Probably the number-one cognitive factor that contributes to being overweight is denial. When the weight starts creeping up, overweight people tend to go into denial until the excess weight is a significant problem that can no longer be ignored. Denial takes the form of statements such as:
o I thought it was normal to put on weight after pregnancy.
o When I saw extra pounds on the scale, I assumed my scale was broken, so I threw it out.
o When my jeans got too tight, I thought they had shrunk in the washing machine.
o I kept telling myself a few extra pounds wouldn’t matter, and no one would notice.
o I consoled myself with the fact that I wasn’t as fat as other people I knew.
o I kept telling myself that putting on weight is a natural side-effect of getting older.
Trim-slim people know exactly what they want to weigh, and when the scale shows they have exceeded that number–even by only two or three pounds–they take action immediately.
Begin now to think, eat, and live your life as a Trim-Slim person, by adopting some of the preceding thought and behavior patterns. Try one on this week and find out if it works for you. Maybe you are already doing a few of these things, and seeing the results as those extra pounds begin to disappear and you get in touch with the Trim-Slim side of yourself. Doing so isn’t easy–it requires revisions in the things you think about, the things you become aware of, and the things you say to yourself. The experts who write advice columns will tell you it takes anywhere from twenty-one to forty days of repetition to install a new habit. Get started now!