The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David A. Kessler
The settling point theory says the body keeps an adult’s weight within a certain range with homeostatic mechanisms, but the range is not predetermined – it’s determined by the drive to eat, the capacity to be satisfied, ability to oxidize fat, motivation, availability, etc. Stimulating the reward centre leads to more pursuit of pleasure regardless of rational need for it.
Sugar, fat, and salt make us eat more sugar, fat, and salt. A variety of readily available palatable food engages the full range of our senses and stimulate appetite. While protein empties from the stomach at 4 calories a minute, sugary foods empty at 10 calories a minute, satisfying hunger for a much shorter time. And while fat empties the stomach at 2 calories a minute, the body is slow to process those signals.
“Food Rehab” treats a chronic problem that can be managed but not completely cured. “We remain vulnerable to the pull of old habits, although with time and the rewards that accompany success, they do lose some of their power … Eventually we can begin to think differently about food, recognizing its value to sustain us and protect us from hunger, and denying it the authority to govern our lives.”
Avoid temptation and the need to continuously make decisions by planning sets of personally satisfying meal plans. At first, try eating half of usual meals to test how much keeps you satisfied for 2-4 hours. Eventually, add flexibility for long-term sustainability.
Base the diet around lean protein and whole grains or legumes, adding fruits and non-starchy vegetables. Once you’ve learned to manage risk, savour some rewards you can eat with control in order to avoid feeling deprived.
Avoid or limit being cued wherever possible. Remember the stakes, have an alternate plan, and learn active resistance. Alternatively, condition cues with negative associations. You might even replace automatic behaviour with healthy foods.
Dealing with urges, immediately turn off a thought and change the channel. Engage your mind with another goal-directed activity. Otherwise, talk down the urge emphasizing your values.
Mentally rehearse before a high-risk environment for a minute to visualize every step of positive behaviours. “Implant your intended response in your brain with “if-then” propositions.”
“… Realize if you stay trapped, you’ll never eat enough to feel satisfied, and that’s when you’ll stop expecting food to make you feel better.”