Hopefully this will be the final in my series on dieting.
If you’ve followed it so far, you should appreciate the distinction between eating out of hunger and eating to gratify the appetite.
If you are overweight, then you are (all things being equal) eating excessively, and this excessive eating is motivated by the appetite, which demands gratification regardless of the physical and psychological consequences.
If you don’t like being overweight, if looking in the mirror fills you with dismay at how much excess weight you are carrying, then use that dissatisfaction to help you clarify your eating habits.
Each time you go to eat something – even if it be something healthy like a tomato or carrot – stop and check whether or not you are still overweight. If you are still overweight, are you still unhappy with this situation? If you are still unhappy with this situation, could you perhaps not eat any more food for now, and thereby stop contributing to the situation that makes you unhappy?
Appetite has ways of clouding your judgement, so although this line of questioning might seem harsh, it is necessarily harsh.
If you stick to it, you will eventually find that your body does need food at times, even if you are still overweight. You will get to a point where the question “can I go on without eating?” is met in the negative. But even so, it then requires only the smallest amount of food to keep you going.
This isn’t just a change in the amount of raw calories consumed, it’s also a change to your relationship with food, or to be more precise, your relationship with your appetite.
You will probably discover that there are numerous unexpected ways in which you gratify your appetite. Even healthy foods can gratify it.
What you’re fasting from is not the food so much as the craving appetite that drives you.It can be a fearsome opponent, so don’t be afraid to really use your displeasure with your appearance to motivate you.
Bring your eating back to the question of whether you are still overweight, whether you are still unhappy about being fat.
If you really are overweight, there’s nothing wrong with being unhappy about it, not liking the way your body looks.
We’re told that obesity is a disease, and, well, diseases often look bad; ill-health often looks bad; gluttony usually looks bad. It’s nothing personal, just nature.
You wince when you see a terrible sunburn on your neck or face, so of course you wince when you see your abdomen protruding beyond its healthy limits.
When you go to eat, check to see whether you are still overweight or not. If you are, don’t eat unless you are literally shaking with fatigue, and then have only a bite or two.
Don’t eat for the pleasure it brings, or at least let the pleasure be subdued by your dismay at being unattractively overweight.
We’re told not to feel ashamed of being overweight, and I’m not advocating that you begin to feel ashamed if you don’t already. Rather, most people already do feel ashamed, so they might as well put the shame to good use.
As I mentioned before (I think), apart from the problem of being overweight, there’s the problem of being unhappy about it, yet doing nothing to change it. If I really don’t like being overweight, surely that would motivate me to change the most basic cause of weight-gain: consumption.
It would, or it could, if it weren’t for the alluring escapism provided by the appetite, something that needs to be reined in if we are to successfully alter our relationship with food.