Secrets of Portion Control for Permanent Weight Loss
By David Quigley
One of the most important problems for the client who is serious about losing weight is portion size. Everyone wishing to lose weight needs to learn about healthy eating habits, the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables, avoiding highly processed foods, and the value of whole grains. In fact, I require every client I see to research proper nutrition or consult a trained nutritionist. But another major challenge is controlling the portions that we eat. No matter how good their food choices are, overweight people often simply eat too much. One solution is to join a diet program like Jennie Craig which basically determines both your food choices and portions for you. Such programs have a high success rate for rapid weight loss. The problem of course is that it may be difficult to make the transition from this kind of highly regimented program to a self-regulating regime. While carefully measuring ones portions may be workable for some of us, many of my weight loss clients are looking for an easier way to manage portion size than always using measuring cups. And there is one. It requires that we understand the proper role of the stomach in managing our eating habits. We need to start listening to our stomach’s wisdom.
The human stomach is a uniquely versatile organ. For most of the last two million years of evolution our human ancestors needed a stomach that could hold up to two quarts of food. That’s because they might spend two days chasing a mammoth across the plains on an empty stomach. Then they had to eat very quickly before they were chased off by the saber toothed tigers. The uncertainty of food sources and lack of storage options required our early ancestors to develop a stomach that was uniquely suited to this environment. Early humans lived a life of nearly constant physical exertion. And their stomach would be filled with food only once every few days. The rest of the time it would be a few bites of leaves or fruit. Our ancestors did not suffer from overweight problems.
Now this same large stomach no longer serves us. If a modern human who is living a sedentary life fills this stomach even once a day to capacity, obesity is the inevitable outcome. That’s because this stomach was never intended to be filled every day in this way. Unfortunately, we are conditioned to eat to capacity in many subtle ways. We are trained to experience eating to a sensation of fullness as the goal of a meal. Even during our mealtimes as a child we were programmed to stuff ourselves. (“Come on, Joey, have another piece of pie. Don’t you like it? You have to grow up big and strong. Are you sick? Where’s your appetite? Don’t you want to be in the clean plate club?”) Restaurant portions are also designed to fill us to capacity, not to mention the joys of all you can eat buffets. In the face of this kind of programming it should hardly be surprising that obesity is a nation-wide epidemic.
But this same stomach that creates such a problem for weight loss also offers us a solution to this problem. I teach my clients to eat slowly and remain tuned in to their stomach’s signals after every bite, rather than waiting until they feel stuffed to listen to their stomach’s complaints. What this reveals is that the stomach gives a more subtle signal when it is no longer churning with hunger. Instead our stomach is simply calm. At this time the stomach is telling us “I’ve got enough now to fend off starvation.” While most overweight people are trained to ignore this early signal and keep on stuffing themselves, it is easy to use hypnosis to help us experience this subtle signal and stop eating at that point. Since it will take up to twenty minutes for the food still in your mouth to reach your stomach, you will leave the table with a comfortable feeling of satisfaction. But, you will not feel the sense of tiredness, bloating or heartburn so common with a full stomach.
Along with tuning in to stomach signals, we can tune into our taste buds for help in portion control. All of us are aware that when we are truly hungry the first bites of a good meal are incredibly delicious. But after a few bites, as the edge of our appetite is reduced, the taste of the food diminishes. After a few more bites the taste of the food may entirely disappear and we are simply shoving the food in because it is there. Next time you sit down to a meal, notice how this is true for you. Now, here’s the secret: if you tune into the enormous pleasure of eating those first bites you will multiply your eating pleasure. Enjoy these bites even more by chewing slowly to absorb all the subtle flavors. And as soon as this enormous pleasure is gone, as soon as your eating becomes routine, even boring, simply STOP EATING. You can put the rest of your delicious meal in the frig. Tomorrow those leftovers will bring you a second serving of sheer gustatory ecstasy. But for today, the pleasure is gone, and so is your need to eat.
Most of us are not accustomed to tuning in to our bodies in this way. Many of us are conditioned to stuff our faces automatically throughout the day in response to every feeling of stress, hunger, or simply boredom. Many of us are ruled subconsciously by emotional eating habits which have nothing to do with our taste buds or our physical hungers. These issues are addressed in Permanent Secrets of Weight Loss, Parts 1-3. So it requires disciplined effort and patience at first to tune in to these subtle signals. My work as a hypnotherapist often requires me to explore traumatic mealtimes in my client’s memories in order to rescue their inner child from these experiences where they learned inappropriate eating habits. Then hypnotherapy can be used to help tune in to these signals from our bodies, and respond to them. Remember that our eating habits, like all other habits, are stored in the subconscious mind, which can be easily accessed in a hypnotic trance.
Once these new eating habits are in place the benefits are enormous. First, we lose weight effortlessly without the need to count calories. Second, we multiply the pleasures of eating as we learn to tune in to our bodies more efficiently. Thirdly, we gain control over the common symptoms of heartburn, bloating and indigestion which are the universal signals of poor portion control. Try practicing this new style of eating.
Soon, you’ll discover that it is easy to control portion size by listening to your own stomach and your taste buds. Then your life doesn’t have to be about controlling your eating any more. Perhaps you can enjoy the valuable external controls of a program like Jenny Craig or weight watchers while developing these internal controls. But now you won’t always have to depend on others to control your eating choices. Good luck on your journey.
This article is by David Quigley, Founder and Director of The Alchemy Institute
He conducts private weight-loss sessions in person and by telephone.
Call David at (707) 539-4989 or (800) 950-4984 for a free weight-loss consultation.
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