Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rules 2, 3 and 4

Well, "tomorrow" has turned into about two weeks later. Life has gotten in the way.

The reason I started on the McKenna programme was that I finally realized that I was starting to fear all kinds of food, but that this fear had no effect on whether or not I would lose weight.

Over the years, various natural health practitioners (acupuncturists, naturopaths, etc.) have told me to avoid certain foods: sugar (well, duh, but in trying to do so, I actually gained weight since I felt so deprived I ended up eating more of everything else); dairy; wheat; Brussels sprouts (which I adore); wine (something I love in moderation); bananas; strawberries and a list of other foods too long to mention.

The last straw was the banning of tomatoes (and the rest of the nightshade family). After meeting with the allergist and getting this news, I just went batshit. No matter what I have tried to remove from my diet, nothing makes a damn bit of difference to how I feel, in particular with respect to energy levels. All that these bans have done is made me feel angry, nervous and deprived.

Enter Paul McKenna's rule number 2: Eat whatever you want.

What a fiendish rule for dieters and anyone who has tried to improve their nutrition. "But, but, but," we all splutter. To this, I now say, "phooey".

I truly believe that the psychological damage that results from always saying no and trying to rely on willpower is much worse than eating what you want IF you respect rules 3 and 4:

Eat consciously: in other words, don't shovel food into your mouth while reading, watching TV or listening to the radio, all the while feeling guilty about the masses of food you are mindlessly ingesting. Savour each bite, chew slowly, put the food down (i.e. the sandwich, the cookie) or put down your utensil after each bite. Enjoy each bite as if you were a gourmet, sampling the most wonderful food.

Paul McKenna actually encourages us to go through the fridge and pantry and get rid of everything we DON'T like. This sounds like heresy to those who believe in healthy eating, but I have found that despite my love of sweets, I don't eat that many because of rule 4:

Stop eating when you're full, or ideally almost full.

When we eat quickly and without consciousness, we miss the subtle signals our body sends us to tell us that we're full. It's truly amazing how little we need to eat to feel full. If you really do stop when you're full, you'll find there's a lot of food left on your plate. Put it back in the fridge, or just throw it out. Let's face it, the starving kids in Africa aren't going to get any of the food left on your plate. If you find yourself throwing out too much food, it's just time to reduce the portion in the first place.

So that's it for Paul McKenna's four simple rules. The effect they're having on me will be explored in upcoming posts.

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