I went to a very upmarket restaurant, one of those places where your food is served on a gigantic art deco ceramic plate but the food on the said plate is barely enough to sustain human life. It’s less, minus less, and some more less, than the minimum daily allowance for a meal. To top it all off, the price of the said plate can buy a small Island. I would justify eating everything on my plate even the decoration just because I’m paying for it. My friend, while we are all enjoying pleasant conversation, placed down her knife and fork with some food left on her plate, neatly side by side signaling the end of her meal. With shock, I asked if she was finished with her meal? It was only afterward that I realised that this might have come across as rude, but I was thinking more about the money wasted than the actual food left on her plate. Michelle replied, “yes I am full”. Again, I in a slightly more distressed tone, suggested that she cannot possibly be full the serving was hardly a full meal. Michelle, gracefully answered, “I am not a rubbish bin, I’m full.” Right then I realised that naturally thin women like Michelle are profoundly different from other women, especially those who have been on a diet for what feels like all their lives, struggling with weight. I am not referring to that friend you might have who through willpower, self-denial, and compulsive calorie counting experience long periods of natural thinness. Later in the evening when I cornered Michelle to apologise for my temporary dysfunctional filter, I got the chance to pick her brain and found key characteristics that lifelong thin women have. In fact, natural thinness is not a function of willpower, or a life centered on the preoccupation with staying thin at all costs.
Most Naturally thin Women do not obsess about food, only physical hunger prompts them to eat. Some women who struggle with excess weight and maintaining the weight which they have lost have 9 out of 10 times an emotional relationship with food. We eat when we are bored, lonely, sad, stressed, or even tired. The overconsumption of food causes our brains to not recognise our body’s signals that we are full. We’ve wiped that function out completely. Let me ask you this, remember back to your previous meal. Did you have any signs of physical hunger? Physical hunger would be a growling stomach or feeling a bit shaky because your blood sugar is low. Most overeaters seldom experience the cues of physical hunger, true hunger. I bet you when you ate that meal you did not experience your stomach growling, there was no physical, true hunger. In contrast, naturally thin women see food as a physical necessity. It is like putting petrol into your car. These women eat when their bodies tell them they are hungry and stop eating because they are in tune with their bodily cues which indicate fullness.
Most Naturally thin Women enjoy food, but the enjoyment is not an obsessive love affair experienced by overeaters. Women who have an obsessive relationship with food, fantasize about eating their go-to cheat food. Their brains light up like a pinball machine when they think about indulging in certain foods or being at an all you can eat buffet!! Overweight women get pleasure from eating in their heads, and naturally thin women get pleasure from eating in their body. Naturally thin women, have no struggles or emotional triggers with eating. They can have fattening food in the house, and they can have bread, butter, and fat-laden foods. There is no love-hate relationship with food, no negotiating with it. Eating is a pleasure, a sensual joy, they truly taste and enjoy their food. To them, eating is satisfying without guilt or shame. The food-obsessed woman experience in most cases that the act of consuming the “forbidden” food is not as satisfying as the fantasy of eating it.
Most Naturally thin Women make time to enjoy their meals.
There is nothing more delicious than eating a meal when you are truly hungry and have a genuine appetite. Physical hunger has certain body signals and sensations, we taste and experience flavour more intensely. Naturally thin women plan their meals when they receive cues for being physically hungry. Once food becomes an obsession, we attempt to fulfill the mental spectacle that has been marinating for hours prior to the physical act of eating. So, by the time the food gets to be in front of you, you can clean your plate in 3 minutes flat. Naturally thin women take time, in planning, preparing, eat, and tasting their food. Your body takes 20 minutes to recognise that you are full and that you should stop eating. If your track record for wiping out a meal is 3 minutes or less, just think how much food you are most likely consuming in those 20 minutes before your body starts screaming at you to STOP eating.
Most Naturally thin Women can assess their body’s needs against their food options.
Emotional eaters will fantasize about wanting a particular food or snack now, but if they can’t have that specific food, anything will do. Naturally thin women acknowledge their hunger and then plan to eat specifically, these women do not eat foods that do not appeal to them. Yes, genuine hunger will drive her to eat, but she will only do so if it’s a positive experience. Their food choices are not propelled by overpowering compulsion. Naturally thin women can clearly express that they are hungry, they won’t settle for second, third, or even fourth options. They then rather go without the food. They stop eating if the food is not sensual or physically satisfying. They can identify whether they are thirsty instead of being physically hungry.
Most Naturally thin Women dislike the physical discomfort of being bloated or stuffed.
To these women, the discomfort of being overly full depletes the joy they acquire from their life. Filling their stomach beyond their limits has negative consequences for them, consequences which these women are not prepared to entertain. They feel uncomfortable in their clothes, it limits their ability to do activities, they feel tied down, miserable and movement is restricted. When I asked Michelle how she can tell that she is full, her answer was so simple it floored me. “The food loses its taste.” Food becomes bland and does not taste as good as the first bite. The problem with overeaters and eating when we are not physically hungry, is that our taste buds are not alive. There is thus little satisfaction from eating, and we don’t really taste the food or pick up on cues that the food is not as tasty as before.
Most Naturally thin Women do not believe that food is their primary source of joy.
I personally know that when I listen to music I forget about food. When I’m doing work that is creative, I’m never hungry. Joy is hugging and connecting to another human being at an intimate level. It is sharing a common vision, being in a state of grace. Studies have shown an irrefutable negative correlation between experiencing joy and the predisposition to addictive behaviours. Conclusively the more joyful a person feels, the less likely that person is to support and continue an addiction. When you engage in activities that you find joyous, you are less likely to overeat. Instead of searching for food when you are out of balance, you begin to search for true nourishment.
Most Naturally thin Women have the ability to experience the ups and downs of life without using food as a source to address these ups and downs. They can:
Articulate their emotions, “I’m disappointed” as opposed to suppressing it with food.
Sadness leads to weeping, in contrast to an emotional eater who raids the fridge and then wonders why.
Anger might lead to throwing a plate, or screaming into a pillow, but in most cases, she can verbalise what she is feeling instead of stuffing her face.
Being tired, means taking a nap, even if it’s during your lunch break under your desk.
Loneliness leads to reaching out, call your mother or a friend.
For Naturally thin women stress means a long run, yoga, or meditation. They acknowledge the source that is causing the stress.
Naturally thin women do not believe that food is anything more than a fuel source for operating their bodies. They face and experience all the emotions that are part of being human. Emotions are accepted, felt, expressed, embodied, and finally released. There is no belief that food has meaning or can address any need other than a biological function. Eating when we have an emotional need will only replace avoidance of the emotion with self-loathing.
At the end of our discussion, I realised how vastly different Michelle’s mind frame is compared to women who have excess weight, are emotional eaters, or struggle to keep the weight they have lost off. If you are reading this blog and you can identify with any of these characteristics, I encourage you not to feel overwhelmed and think you will never win your internal weight battle. The next time you eat, stop and feel for physical signs that you are hungry. If you can start with identifying whether it’s emotional hunger vs. physical hunger, you have won half of the race.
Sprezzatura has a unique Mind Transformation course with our 12-week programme that helps you reset and rewire your brain. You can finally break food addiction and emotional eating. Build a healthy relationship with food that will bring you joy and keep the weight off.