If you’ve ever tried to boost your metabolism, you probably started by taking a look at diet and exercise. Of course, these play an important role, but there’s much more to the story. The research is showing us that emotions, thoughts, our level of stress, our past experiences, and so many more aspects of our inner world generate chemical reactions in the brain and digestive system that have a very real and measurable impact on how we metabolize a meal. Don’t miss this fascinating new video from IPEtv where Emily Rosen, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, shares doable, common-sense techniques for turbocharging your metabolism without changing anything you eat!
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Here is a transcript of this week’s video:
Hi, I’m Emily Rosen, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.
Most of us have been taught that good nutrition is simply a function of eating the right food and taking the right supplements. Of course, these factors are important, but there’s more to the nutritional story. The other half is about who we are as eaters. What we think, feel, and believe; our levels of stress, relaxation, pleasure, and awareness; and the inner stories that we live out all have a real, powerful, and measurable effect on our metabolism.
Recent advances in science have proven what ancient wisdom traditions have been saying for so long – that the mind and body exist on an exquisite continuum, and profoundly impact one another. This means that you can literally change your metabolism without changing anything you eat, but by changing you, the eater. I’d like to share 7 key insights from the fields of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition that everyone who’s interested in nutrition should know:
1. Stress can put weight on – relaxation can take it off.
It’s fascinating how stress, fear, anxiety, anger, judgment and even negative self-talk can literally create a physiologic stress response in the body. When stressed, we generate more cortisol and insulin, two hormones that have the unwanted effect of signaling the body to store weight, store fat, and stop building muscle. We actually change our calorie burning capacity when we’re stressed. What’s even more incredible, though, is that as we learn to smile more, ease into life and breathe more deeply, the body enters a physiologic relaxation response which creates our optimal day-in, day-out calorie-burning metabolism. Stressful weight loss strategies such as impossible to follow diets, overly intense exercise programs, or tasteless low-calorie food can also create the kind of stress chemistry that ensures our weight will stay put. It’s time to relax into weight loss.
2. Happiness is the best digestive aid.
When you eat during anxiety or stress, you’re likely to experience such symptoms as heartburn, cramping, gas, and digestive upset. When the stress response is activated, the body automatically shifts into the classic fight-or-flight response and the digestive system actually shuts down. From a biological perspective, when you’re fending off an angry gorilla, you don’t need to waste energy digesting your breakfast. So, you could be eating the healthiest food in the world, but if you aren’t relaxed while you eat, you are not metabolizing receiving the full nutritional value of your meal.
3. Overeating – it’s simpler than you think.
Most people think they overeat because they have a willpower problem. Well, here’s the good news – you don’t. The problem for a majority of overeaters is that they don’t actually “eat” when they eat. When we aren’t fully present to a meal, aware of its taste, or simply feeling nourished by the food, the brain, which requires taste and satisfaction to trigger specific metabolic processes, misses out on important cues. The brain literally thinks it didn’t eat enough, and it screams – “Hungry!” You can dramatically decrease your overeating by increasing your awareness and presence at every meal.
4. Slower eating means faster metabolism.
One of my favorite nutritional questions to ask people is “Are you a fast eater, moderate eater, or slow eater?” The act of eating fast is considered a stressor by the body. Humans are simply not biologically wired for high speed eating. So when we do eat fast, the body again enters the physiologic stress response, which results in decreased digestion, decreased nutrient assimilation, increased nutrient excretion, lowered calorie burning rate, and a bigger appetite.
5. Make sure you have enough Vitamin P – Pleasure!
All living organisms are programmed at the most primitive level of the nervous system to seek pleasure and avoid pain. If you’re eating and not paying attention, the brain will drive you to seek more pleasure via overeating. But if you’re stressed while eating, the excess cortisol in your system actually de-sensitizes you to pleasure – so you need to eat more food in order to get the pleasure you are seeking. If you want more pleasure from food, you don’t need to eat more. Simply breathe, relax, enjoy, pay attention, and the body will naturally experience the pleasure it seeks, which, in turn, fuels digestion and assimilation.
6. Emotional eating – it’s not the enemy.
We are emotional beings – rich, complex, juicy, unpredictable feeling-filled creatures. We love, we celebrate, we laugh, cry, we break down, we rise up… So how could we NOT be emotional eaters? We love food. We love our favorite restaurant. Some of us love cooking for others. Some of us are passionate about nutrition. It’s time to get over it – if you’re human, you will bring emotionality to the table. Underneath the quest to eradicate emotional eating is often found a hidden desire to eliminate uncomfortable feelings. Yes, this experience called uncontrolled emotional eating can be very painful. But it’s not the actual problem – it’s a symptom that’s pointing to something deeper.
7. Get rid of toxic nutritional beliefs.
Finally, many of us have absorbed toxic nutritional beliefs that are as harmful and debilitating as any of the toxins in our food. It’s very common for people to believe that “food is the enemy”, or “food makes me fat”, or “fat in food will become fat on my body” or “my appetite is the enemy”. Such beliefs create a relationship with food and self that’s filled with tremendous suffering and pain. Think about it – if we believe that “food is the enemy”, then we are constantly in a fight or flight stress response whenever we eat, or even think about food. Such a powerful stressor can cause all the problems of stress-induced digestive shutdown, decreased calorie burning capacity, and an inner life that’s seldom at peace.
Hopefully, you can see that there’s way more to good nutrition than simply the food itself. We bring all of ourselves to the table – our hopes, fears, thoughts, feelings, dramas, and dreams. And the more we include a well rounded nutritional profile – Vitamin R – relaxation, Vitamin P – pleasure, Vitamin S – slow, and Vitamin L – Love – the more we can truly nourish ourselves on every level.
I hope this was helpful!
To learn more about the breakthrough body of work we teach here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, please sign up for our free video training series at ipe.tips. You’ll learn about the cutting-edge principles of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition that have helped millions forever transform their relationship with food, body, and health. Lastly, we want to make sure you’re aware of our two premier offerings. Our Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training is an 8 month distance learning program that you can take from anywhere in the world to launch a new career or to augment an already existing health practice. And Transform Your Relationship with Food is our 8 week online program for anyone looking to take a big leap forward with food and body.