1. Those who are naturally thin and manage to stay thin effortlessly
2. Those who have to work hard at being thin
At this stage, it might be hard to come across any American women who claims to be thin. However, there are many and every time I spotted one in the past, I became the envious green eyed monster. Nevertheless, observing and speaking to many, including a few friends who empathized with me over my failed weight loss struggles, I noticed some common traits.
- They are not obsessed with food.
- It is physical hunger that prompts them to eat not “brain hunger”.
- They eat food in time and in peace and enjoy every morsel of it.
- They know how to balance food with their body’s requirements.
- They eat just as much as is required; they don’t stuff themselves to feel bloated.
- They eat a variety of foods that are nutritious and low-calorie. However, they do not obsess over the caloric content.
- For them, food is not their source of comfort, pleasure and joy.
Let’s look at each of these aspects in detail.
Those naturally thin are not obsessed with food. It is physical hunger that prompts them to eat.
When I say “obsessed with food” I put it on the same level of addiction. All those who complain of not being able to lose weight despite resorting to strict diets are addicted to food. I was one of them till I realized what I was doing wrong.
We live, breathe and think food. Hardly an hour after you’ve eaten something, you want to eat again. You are at your desk typing out an important document, but in one corner your mind is thinking of what you going to have for lunch. You continue eating till you’re stuffed; your buttons can literally pop. You develop a tolerance for food that is you can eat and eat and eat even if you are not hungry. When sad or angry, you turn to food; your ever loyal and faithful friend.
This is what naturally thin women do differently. Food for them is only a source of energy, nothing more than that. Their hunger is real hunger. They eat when their stomach growls or when they experience a dip in energy not otherwise.
Overeaters often consider dieting to create the calorie deficit that most weight loss experts recommend. However, as already discussed a few sections above, it is dieting that actually makes their brain food-obsessed by triggering the famine brain mechanism.
This happens because our brain, otherwise flawlessly crafted, fails to differentiate between a body that is truly starving with a drastic decrease in fat deposits and one that has excess fat deposits. Thus, the moment it records a drop in fat its hormones get into the conservation mode prompting the body to overeat.
Dieting changes our food choices; we choose certain foods over others. This kind of restriction also leads to food obsession. By instructing your brain not to think about something, you are indirectly forcing it to think about it in a compulsive manner to the extent of obsession.
It is like telling a child not to play with fire or jump from a bed. He will continue doing it until he gets burnt or falls down and gets hurt.
Also, for a diet to be followed successfully, it must be observed under the ideal conditions. The moment your motivation vanes or if you feel stressed and depressed, you slide back to where you started, eating the very foods you are trying to avoid. If you’ve ever been on a diet before, you know how easily this happens.
This lack of self-control and willpower is termed as “Ego Depletion” in terms of the Freudian concepts of “Id, Ego and Superego”. The Ego is the rational part of our personality. It mediates between the demands of the Id (the basic urges) and the Superego (our moral and idealistic standards).
Overeaters fantasize about food and derive pleasure from it, but the naturally thin women register pleasure in the form of experiences registered by their senses through the physical act of eating. In overeaters, the brain functions differently generating dopamine at the very thought of food.
Naturally thin women don’t fuss over food choices. Thus, eating is a sensual joy… A truly satisfying experience!
Believe me, I know what it feels like when you have to strike off most of your favorite foods off your food list and worst is when you go visiting and you’re offered a cheese cracker, you flash a bright smile with a “No Thank you… Dieting” while your host rolls her eyes behind your back because you are being such a whiny kid! Abstinence becomes your motto. And, despite all your efforts, your weighing scale won’t tip.
You will be surprised to know that a naturally thin women does none of this. She rarely feels the need to clean out her refrigerator of all those subtle temptations. She does not stand in the kitchen, with the cookie jar in a hand, telling herself, “Just this one today… no more for the rest of the month.” Also, when out, she enjoys all those fat-laden foods without once stopping to count the number of calories it contains.
Where’s the poetic justice? Aren’t you supposed to be the one rewarded for all your efforts? The main difference lies in how each perceives foods and hunger.
When a naturally thin women feasts on food, there is a limit to how much she eats. Her body gives her signals to tell her that she is satiated and she stops.
If you put an overeater in her place, I can bet she won’t stop. The reason is because both measure satisfaction differently.
In the first, it is physiological and the second, it is psychological. This is also why we find it hard to stick to a healthy diet for long. And then, to make the problem worse is the habit of binge eating. You grab the chips, the burger, pizza, coke or anything that comes to your hand throwing all caution to the air.
Naturally thin women eat in time.
I could understand cutting back on a few calories, sleeping well, measuring food portions and getting smaller plates, but I couldn’t somehow see the logic behind sticking with an eating schedule.
It was only later that I realized the important role it plays in the weight loss puzzle. It helps rewire the brain by developing new habits. I personally had no fixed eating times. As a matter of fact, I was constantly nibbling on something throughout. But I dare not to eat out of schedule today.
So, how does this work? It helps you keep a tab on your hunger. Eating at the same time everyday puts your body into a cycle. It is like your body clock. If you sleep at 10 and wake up at 6 every day, after a few days, your eyes will automatically open at 6 irrespective of whether you set the alarm. Also, by the time its 10, you will start feeling sleepy. This is one way to deal with sleepless nights.
When you eat at regular intervals, you condition your brain to think about food only at certain times; those times when your body needs a refueling to carry on the rest of day’s activities. Here, your hunger is not emotionally charged but physical hunger. You end up feeding a genuine appetite, not an emotionally-wrecked mind.
When the time’s up, you’ll feel sleepy, your stomach will rumble and your mouth will water at the sight or smell of food. Not only this, if you do not get food, as in a proper meal, a small snack can also satisfy you for the time being. Thus, sticking with a schedule teaches you how to control your hunger. Eating is no longer an imperative neither a compulsive action.
If you are thinking about food the whole day, there is no way you will derive pleasure from it. This is because if the physical act of eating does not match your fantasy of food you will never feel satiated even if you have had more than your fill. Your senses (taste buds to be precise) become desensitized.
Along with eating at the right time, it is important to dedicate enough time to eating. You should sit down to eat your meals and not rush through them. If you eat on the run, you are not allowing your body to enjoy it and that’s how the body gradually becomes tolerant to food. It fails to tell when the body has been satiated in the physical sense.
Working with a schedule also lets you be in tune with nature. It helps the body derive the best nutrition from food by working with the natural circadian rhythms of the body.
Naturally thin women listen to their body, balancing tastes with needs.
If you look into the mind of a women struggling to stay thin, it would be something like this… I am hungry. But I can only eat 1500 calories. I can have proteins and fiber, but no fats, sugar and carbohydrates. I have to become thin.”
On the contrary, a naturally thin women’s thought process would be like this… “I am hungry. I feel like eating a cheesecake. It’s not available. Never mind! I will wait for some time.”
That’s the difference. A women driven by physical hunger will eat when she feels hungry, but will always look to make this physical act of eating a positive experience by balancing tastes with needs. Her desire is to enjoy her meal and so she will not eat something that does not appeal to her.
In case of obese women trying to lose weight, becoming thin is the only thing on their mind and according to them forfeiting entire food groups is the only way to go. They are willing to satisfy their food cravings by substituting it with other stuff whether tasty or not. Such severe restrictions increase cravings for a particular food and the next time you get a chance to eat it, you overindulge. The best thing to do is to eat all foods in moderation. And YES, go for a maximum of 1400-1600 calories per day.
Naturally thin women can also tell when they are full.
They can feel the discomfort when they’ve overeaten. They don’t feel like finishing what’s left on their plate. When you learn how to eat mindfully, you will also learn how to recognize the signals your body gives you telling you that it is satiated for the time being; maybe you could think of eating something later but definitely not now.
Food is not the arm they lean on for support.
Naturally thin women do not turn to food when they are sad and depressed. They turn to music, to dance or to a friend. In fact, they find it hard to eat when their emotions are running high. If you want to lose weight the healthy way without the fuss of strict diet and exercise routines, you should determine those activities that you could derive joy from besides foods.
A healthy relationship with food does not mean that the Naturally Thin Women longs for or eats healthy greens all the time. It means that she has a positive, not antagonistic, relationship to what she eats.