While I’m watching the season premiere of Biggest Loser, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss a blog post that a friend of mine shared on her Facebook the other day: The Public Humiliation Diet. It goes right along with Biggest Loser – I have a love/hate relationship with this show. I love watching people gain confidence and transform their lives, but at the same time I know that the way that it is done is unrealistic, and I sometimes cringe at how humiliated those people must feel.
So basically this guy had weight issues his entire life, ended up with back problems and needed to lose weight – and he did, he lost 60lbs in 5 months. His blog explains how he did it… here I will break down each of his steps with my input related to intuitive eating, dieting, and my own experience.
- He bought a scale, weighed himself daily, and posted his weight publicly so that he could no longer deny how heavy he had become. To be a true intuitive eater, you have to get rid of the scale – the scale is a dieting tool, and diets don’t work. This has been so difficult for me to grasp. Like Drew (the guy who wrote this blog), I feel like I have to be honest with myself and I have to see what my weight is. The number doesn’t frustrate me or discourage me, but rather motivates me. So maybe in a way because I continue to weigh myself I am pseudo-dieting in the eyes of the intuitive eater.
- He never ate after dinner – actually, after 6pm. As a dietitian, I know that there is no “magic hour” when you should stop eating. It just depends on your lifestyle. During the day, it is best to eat every 2-4 hours to keep your metabolism going and your blood sugar balanced. The longer you go without eating, the more “starved” your body will be for energy. That’s why it is so important to eat breakfast – so you can “break” the “fast”. In Drew’s case, he created this rule for himself because he had issues with night eating. I have never had this issue and have never held myself to not eat past a certain time. In fact, if I ever have told myself not to eat after dinner or not to eat after a certain time, it is a certainty that I will eat after that time and that I will eat so much more than I would have had I just not given myself that rule to follow. This goes along with being an intuitive eater – if you are truly eating intuitively, you’ll eat when you’re hungry, no matter what time it is, and you’ll stop when you’re full.
- He didn’t snack, except for fruit, and he didn’t take second helpings. Another step where I have conflicting feelings. Snacking isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and the fact that he decided to snack only on fruit isn’t really a bad thing either. It was a good way for him to start to include more fruit in his diet. Snacks between meals can help from overeating. When he discusses the second helpings, he mentions how he would be so focused on getting more of whatever food he was eating that he wouldn’t even taste or enjoy the first portion. This is where mindful eating can be helpful – focusing on the flavors, the aromas, and the textures of a meal so that it is more enjoyable. The more you enjoy and spend time eating your meal, the less likely you’ll be to take a second portion. But where intuitive eating comes in is knowing that if you WANT a second helping, you can have one.
- He cut down on sweets and carbs. The key here is that he still allowed himself to have sweets, but he didn’t overdo it anymore. He still had carbs, but he stopped bingeing on them. I have to assume that he learned some mindful eating techniques to prevent him from eating serving after serving of these foods. He knew that if he really wanted those foods, they would be there… another time.
- He drank a ****load of green tea and he cut down on alcohol. I love what he says about the green tea… that he would drink a cup at the end of the meal to signal that the meal was over. This is a great mindful eating technique. Sometimes it means pushing the plate away, or putting your utensils on the table. But to have a satisfying cup of green tea to signify the end of the meal is great. Cutting down on alcohol is a great way to cut back on calories – a small amount of alcohol does have its benefits, but large amounts are a bunch of empty calories and any kind of bingeing isn’t healthy.
- He made sure that everything he ate was effing awesome! This is a HUGE part of intuitive eating! Drew made sure that the food he ate tasted great, because if you don’t like the food that you eat and you’re not satisfied, you’ll be left craving more. And you’ll eat more, guaranteed. That’s the problem with dieting.
- He exercised. But according to him, it hardly mattered – what mattered was changing his relationship with food. Of course he doesn’t put it in those terms, but looking at everything that he did it is EXACTLY what happened. He starting eating to live instead of living to eat. But exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle – if you include it as part of your daily routine instead of another way to diet or lose weight, it will be beneficial. That’s why I have goals of being FIT, not being THIN.
- He took a fiber supplement – and pooped himself thin! This just made me LOL – but truthfully most people do not get enough fiber in their diet. I’m not a huge fan of fiber supplements – in fact I’m not a huge fan of supplements period. I believe in food first, so aim to find higher fiber foods.
So I still don’t believe in diets, but as you can see I still dabble in some pseudo-dieting habits. I still weigh myself and I track my food on MyFitnessPal. I workout, but I try not to think of it as burning calories – I think of it as being able to reach my fitness goals, such as running a 10k and doing a duathlon.
But I don’t have food rules. I don’t have any foods that are off limits. I don’t limit myself to a certain calorie level per meal. I am allowed to snack if I want to, allowed to have seconds if I want to. And sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. I know myself and I know that if I put limits on myself that I will want to break the rules. I’m learning to feel okay with myself if I don’t have the greatest day of eating, or if I don’t get a chance to workout. I’m making better choices that make me feel better.
I don’t believe in dieting, but if I did I would say that The Public Humiliation diet is the closest thing to success. It won’t work for everyone, but for some people – like Drew, and maybe even myself to some extent – it is just what they need.
BTW… my last weigh in was 178.4# on 1/3/13. I’m okay with it, and I’ll keep posting my weight to be brutally honest with myself and all of you.