THE BLOG

Why It's Healthy to Eat Like a Kid

07/12/2012 11:58 EDT | Updated 09/11/2012 05:12 EDT

As far as I'm concerned, peanut butter has gotten a bum rap. People usually think of it as a food that is "fattening" and something to stay away from. But I frequently encourage people if they like it, to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and hey, sometimes even dinner. (I don't mean all three meals in one day!) It's got great protein and is extremely satisfying and filling.

I frequently write about how to get back to the days when you didn't think about how fattening or "healthy" anything was. Without a thought of where it would land on your thighs, or midriff; that's what I mean when I say eat like a kid.

The moment we start to put on weight we begin to think of food as "good" or "bad." However the cycle of "on-off" dieting usually results in more weight gain with each successive trial. Another bad effect is the conviction that you have failed your diet, and that you really can't eat the foods you love, because look what happens, you just gain more weight.

For the last 25 years, I have helped people recover from extreme compulsive overeating, obesity, anorexia, and bulimia, in part by helping them re-learn how to eat like a kid. Now you don't get to be totally unconscious, because it actually takes extreme mindfulness. It goes like this:

1) I can eat what I want, and I need to be conscious of my strongly held beliefs that I am not supposed to eat certain things, and that they will make me gain weight

2) In order to use my common sense about food, I need to be aware of this strongly held belief, and how often in the past it has made me go 'unconscious' when I have broken my 'healthy eating streak,' and eaten the 'wrong' food.

3) This has usually resulted in eating more than I even wanted to, because I am convinced that I won't have it tomorrow, and I shouldn't have it again.

You will never get over your old "tape loops," as I call them, that make you feel guilty and tell you that you are eating "badly" if you have a food you think is higher in calories than you think you should have.

But, you need to be aware of your tape loops and know that they don't foster positive eating habits overall. So try this new way of thinking:

1) I will be aware of my eating and I need to repeat to myself using my common sense about food, that I can eat what I like but I need to ask myself: "Do I really want this?" "Do I really need this?" "Do I need to have it now or can I wait until later?"

2) Remember: You can always have it. When you are eating, however, you need to stay very conscious of when you become satisfied. Play around with when you can stop, remembering that you always have it in an hour, ten minutes, tomorrow. Play around with this idea.

3) Practice it. Stay connected to your body and feeling of satisfaction, satiety. You need to play with when you can stop eating, perhaps you want the whole portion of pasta, or if you really check in with your body, you are full, because you've had an appetizer. You can always have it tomorrow.

The more you continue to check in with your body and appetite and most importantly, how satisfied you are feeling, the more you can spread out the food you eat, because you can always have more when you choose.

Okay, you are thinking: What does this have to do with peanut butter?

Well I am writing about this right now because I got excited when I heard about the Kraft Peanut Butter Truck touring the country. Not an ice cream truck, a Peanut Butter Truck. Calorie counting folk usually think that peanut butter is a food they can't have, but again, remember; peanut butter will keep you satisfied and full! A compulsive eating buster! And remember that protein?!

So when I heard there was a peanut butter truck coming to a town near you, I wanted to get the word out, because nothing says "Eat like a kid," like peanut butter:

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