Interesting week. Aside from the paleo “shit slinging” (and re the person who stopped following me on Twitter because of it … all I can say is ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself), there have been some useful posts. I mentioned yesterday Paleo Pepper’s evolutionary perspective for women.
And there’s also Lindsay’s The Post That Was Going to Be Called “Fuck Paleo” But Isn’t who shares her experience with orthorexia and coming out on the other side.
While I’ve not gone into the orthorexia abyss that Lindsay did, I’ve lately been thinking about other aspects to ancestral health besides food. So here’s my contribution to the “it’s not just about the diet” theme that these ladies have started.
It’s not just what you eat, it’s also about you, the eater.
You, the eater
I first heard about “you, the eater” from Marc David. David is the founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a group that:
explores how thoughts, feelings and beliefs impact nutritional metabolism and health. It focuses on the fascinating connections between brain, body, digestion, and behavior. It also brings to light how the social, emotional, cultural, and spiritual dimensions of life can literally and scientifically influence how we digest and assimilate a meal, and how we calorie-burn.
I’ve been diving into this recently and am finding much that appeals to me. First, physically there’s a lot that resonates. As others have pointed out, it’s not just about what you eat, it’s what you absorb. And the standard Western practice of inhaling food is really problematic as far as good digestion goes.
Now, if you’re fab in the mindful eating department, you can skip the rest of this post. But the rest of you who multi-task through your meals, don’t chew or taste, well, you might want to consider how that’s working for you!
The “secrets” of eating psychology
This blog post — Can the Psychology of Eating Change Your Metabolism? — provides a brief intro to David’s work. His “secrets” of eating psychology include:
- Stress can put weight on – relaxation can take it off. … you could be following the best weight loss diet in the world, but if you’re an anxious mess, the power of your mind is limiting the weight loss of your body.
- Happiness is the best digestive aid. … you could be eating the healthiest food in the universe, but if you aren’t eating under the optimum state of digestion and assimilation – which happens to be relaxation – you literally and metabolically are not receiving the full nutritional value of your meal.
- Overeating – it’s simpler than you think. … you can dramatically decrease your overeating by increasing your awareness and presence at every meal.
- Slower eating means faster metabolism. … you can literally empower your nutritional metabolism simply by slowing down.
- Make sure you have enough Vitamin P – Pleasure! … if you’re eating and not paying attention, the brain will drive you to seek more pleasure via overeating. What’s worse, if you’re stressed while eating, the excess cortisol in your system actually de-sensitizes us to pleasure – so you’ll need to eat more food in order to get the pleasure we are seeking.
- Emotional eating – it’s not the enemy. … Yes, this thing called emotional eating can be very painful. But it’s not the actual problem – it’s a symptom that’s pointing to something deeper.
- Get rid of toxic nutritional beliefs. … The question is: Is your relationship with food nourishing, or punishing?
This may be a bit woo for some of the harder core science types, but for me, at a minimum being sure to really engage the cephalic phase of digestion and eating in parasympathetic mode are practices well worth cultivating. And for some of you, reading that may be enough. Slow down, chew your food, take a few slow deep breaths.
The Slow Down Diet
But as a person with a disordered eating history, I’ve decided to do this a little bit more formally, following David’s program in the Slow Down Diet.
Here are the themes and objectives for each of the 8 weeks of the program:
- Relaxation: Transform yourself into a slow eater.
- Quality: Whenever and whatever you eat, hit the target at least 80 percent of the time with quality food choices.
- Awareness: Be present with food and access the enteric nervous system—the seat of your gut wisdom.
- Rhythm: Incorporate these key rhythmic strategies into your life:
- eating regularly
- balancing your macronutrients at meals
- planning the time and size of your meals
- planning your daily meals and snacks
using caffeine wisely
- getting regular rest and regular play
I don’t know that I’ll be doing lots of posts related to this, but I definitely wanted to mention it, as I think that (for women especially) there’s a lot of value in the enhancing the experience of “you, the eater.”