Responding to Internal vs. External Signals to Eat

“If you don’t like your world, change yourself (in a positive way). By virtue of changing yourself, your world will change…”

This simple axiom can be very powerful.

Research has shown we make over 200 decisions about food every day. Most of these decisions are driven by external factors. In our fast paced, sedentary world where large volumes of low quality/high calorie food are ever-present, relying upon external factors to determine when, what and how much we eat is very dangerous.

Research has also shown that people who rely upon external factors (food availability, social cues, stress, etc.) to make decisions about food are overweight, while people who rely upon internal factors (clear hunger) are not. It is that simple.

Imagine you spent a year and finally got your weight within a normal range. You found a healthy grocery store, stopped going to the bad restaurants, found a gym you like, etc. Or even worse, say you went on a deprivation diet with controlled food portions and shakes. You want to go back to your regular life, as dieting has been intensive.  Suddenly you received a good job offer in another city. You are excited and move. Six months later you suddenly realize you are back to your old weight again?

What happened?You did not change your world by changing yourself. You tried to change your world directly instead. So when your world changed again you lost control. I always like the image of the person who wanted to walk comfortably everywhere, so they tried to put leather on the ground of the entire world. They never thought to buy a pair of shoes for their own feet.

While we do use environmental modification as a tool in the weight loss process, we don’t stop there. The solution here: don’t to live to eat, but to eat to live. Live a constructive and positive life for those around you, and the motivation to make good decisions regarding diet and exercise will be ever-present. Pay attention to the signals from your own body with regard to when, what and how much to eat, as well as exercise. When you make this change within yourself, you will no longer live in a world of temptation and failure to meet your weight goals. You will live in a world of peace where you can very efficiently execute on your plans to do positive things for the people around you.

If everyone really knew this on a conscious level, everyone would do it. People don’t because they think overeating will make them happy. But if you look closely, lack of control, ill health, failure to lose weight are not signs of happiness. The food that supposedly is the cause of joy is there and gone in a moment. In fact, research shows in (not so) blind taste tests people very often don’t even know what it is that they are eating. Living in peace with your diet and being effective as a positive influence in the world is a far happier lifestyle.

(Research came from Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink)

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