Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Chapter 3: How thin people think

Obviously, I’m not yet thinking like a thin person. Take chapter three: How Thin People Think. Dr. Beck outlines eight characteristics that make dieting difficult. I, of course, can relate to all eight characteristics:

- Confuse hunger with the desire to eat
- Low tolerance for hunger and cravings
- Enjoy the full feeling
- Deny how much I eat
- Use food for comfort
- Feel helpless when I gain weight
- Focus on unfairness
- Stop dieting when I lose weight

For years I’ve been using any slight twinge of hunger (or desire masquerading as hunger) as an excuse to eat. I routinely buy small, snack-size chocolates at the checkout, rationalizing that the serving size is small so it doesn’t matter. I also manage to conveniently forget food consumed in the car, or that piece of toast while watching Survivor. I’ve already admitted to eating for any emotional reason: happy/sad/bored/just because.

The one characteristic that surprised me is “you focus on the issue of unfairness.” For years I always complained to myself that I couldn’t eat the same things that my thin friends ate, such as a slice of chocolate cake or a bag of potatoe chips. I dwelled on the fact that I couldn’t eat whatever I wanted. But the reality is, my thin friends never really ate that slice of cake or indulged in bag of potatoe chips.

From her research, Dr. Beck groups thin people into two groups: people who don’t have to work at staying thin and those who do. Naturally small appetites, eating only when hungry and exercising sufficiently are characteristics of those people who don’t have to work at staying thin. The other thin people work at it, eating smaller portions, low-calorie foods and eat fattening foods only on occasion. The difference between the later group and people like me is their mindset. The thin people don’t dwell on or struggle with restrictions and can manage the overwhelming barrage of sabotaging thoughts.

So how did I do today? After eating my healthy bowl of oatmeal (large flake variety has higher fiber content) for breakfast, I immediately thought, “what should I eat for a snack today?” and thoughtof all food available in the office’s food court: chocolate wafers, timbits, minature Skor bars, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies (oatmeal has fiber, it can’t be all that bad) and frozen yogurt.

I managed to temporarily rebuff the sabotaging thought, but it stalked me all the way to work: at the train station, on the train and during the 25-minute walk to the office. I was proud of myself when I bought powder and cosmetic pads at the pharmacy. Unfortunately I stopped at the dollar store for a diet coke. And then I went to the chocolate aisle. And I picked up a bag of miniature Skor bars. At this point, my muscle to give-in is much stronger than my muscle to resist.

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