When it comes to food and weight, many of us have learned to treat our bodies as a kind of machine.
We know what our Body Mass Index (BMI) “should” be, and we strive to stay within it. We may severely restrict our caloric intake, increase our weekly exercise to the point of exhaustion, or take other extreme measures to lose weight.
And here’s the thing: these efforts often work, but the cost can be huge. At one point or another, most of us who pursue weight loss in this way end up feeling starved for pleasure and enjoyment in life.
That’s the world that Jacques, 55, has been inhabiting since childhood. As a rabbi, Jacques counsels members of his community and helps them find wisdom in their challenges and tribulations.
But when it comes to his personal relationship with food, Jacques is struggling to let go of what he refers to as his “obsession with food.”
Like many of us, Jacques has learned conflicting messages about food:
- “Food is good”
- “I love food, it’s delicious”
- “Food is my enemy”
- “Food makes me fat”
These contradictory beliefs about food have caused Jacques to feel anxious, despite his undeniable lifelong love of food. He’s been dieting for decades, and would like to lose weight, but feels caught in an “all or nothing” cycle where he’s either restricting or overeating.
Jacques has tried so many things to lose weight, such as addressing his gut microbiome, taking hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) for weight loss, and committing to work with a personal trainer three times a week, despite his extreme dislike for working out.
None of these efforts have led to lasting weight loss. Instead, Jacques is feeling even more anxious and confused about what seems like it should be a pretty simple thing: to be at his natural weight, to feel nourished by food, and to live a good life.
For so many of us focused on weight loss, we tend to think about what needs to be lost, removed, or restricted … when what would actually serve us is embracing our love of food, and opening up to pleasure as a source of healing and transformation.
As you’ll hear in this episode of The Psychology of Eating Podcast, master eating psychology teacher Marc David reframes the idea of “food obsession” as it pertains to weight loss – and explores why cultivating a nourishing relationship with food necessitates inviting pleasure into our lives.
As you’ll hear, Marc explores:
- Why embracing our love of food is one of the most life-affirming steps we can take
- Finding the wisdom in our love of food and pleasure
- How to unwind the cycle of self-punishment that so often defines our relationship with food and body
- Following our joy when it comes to movement and eating
- Why finding our natural weight can only come when we’re truly embodied
We’d love to hear your own experience or thoughts about this episode – please drop us a comment below!
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Discovering the Wisdom in Our Love of Food & Pleasure – In Session with Marc David
Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. We’re back in the Psychology of Eating podcast. I’m with Jacques today. Welcome, my friend.
Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to be here with you, Marc.
I’m glad we’re doing this. And for viewers who are new, here’s how it works. Jacques and I have never met before, and we’re going to do a client session together. And hopefully, make it worth your while and see if we can do some good things. So if you could wave your magic wand, get whatever you wanted when it comes to food and body, what would that be for you, sir?
I guess not to obsess so much about food, and to have maybe a more normal relationship with food. And as far as body, I guess, to lose enough weight — something I have been able to accomplish, and we’re going to talk about it. But not to have as many health concerns, like high blood pressure. And I used to have an elevated sugar level, which I’ll tell you about in a minute if you give me the opportunity.
So obsession about food — what does that look like for you? What actually goes on in your mind? Give me a few examples of what happens.
Wow, where to start? So when I — I mean, first of all, and this is very relevant — I’m a rabbi, because I’m Jewish. I think that our culture is very focused on food. You know, part of what I do, even going to people’s lives, in their homes, is to eat. If you don’t eat, I think it’s very complicated. Or, you know, I need to have an awful lot of — a very strong relationship with somebody to say, “No, no, don’t even bring the cookies.” Because sometimes I, you know, and obviously, once I start with one cookie — I can have no cake, so to speak, or the whole cake. But only one slice — it’s not gonna happen.
The other obsession with food is that I am really — I inhale the food. I’m very anxious. I eat when I’m anxious. I also, you know, like — I see the world about food, because I love to travel. But when I travel, it’s not only — you tell me, “Oh, Jacques, what about Vienna?” You know, and what do I think? I don’t think about — you know, the Philharmonic. I think about the Sachertorte. If you don’t know about Sachertorte — anyway, so, the best. So anywhere in the world — even my friends have noted that you ask me directly, “How do I go from here to the stadium?” And I say, “Oh, you take this avenue. And then when you go by by the Chinese restaurant, you make a right. But don’t go to that Chinese restaurant. There is a much better one down the street.” You know? Like everything in my life surrounds food.
How long would you say that you’ve noticed that about yourself? Like is it– ?
Always, always. You know, I think maybe part of my growing up obviously had to do with being overweight. Oh, the other thing — always being on a diet. Always. My mom has never not been on a diet. So there’s always some diet. Now, but allow me to jump in. About a year ago, I began a journey of trying to lose weight. Actually, again, going the 8 or 18. For instance, doing intermittent fasting. And through intermittent fasting, I have managed to lose about 40 pounds.
But the most interesting thing for me was — as I was telling you, that how I could either eat the whole cake, or no cake. But then I began working with with a naturopath doctor. And I don’t know if it was the stupid, humongous amount of vitamins he had me taking, or the really severe changes in my diet, that I really believe may have changed my biome. Because I really, right now, don’t feel the cravings. I’m able to eat, have begun being able to eat — you know, like to open a bar of chocolate, eat one piece, two pieces, and leave it there. And it’s not calling me in the middle of the night, or in the middle of the day.
So something has changed that. You know, I have always thought, “Yes, I eat too much,” because of whatever, my — the Yiddish word is mishegoss — craziness, that I have surrounding my life. But then all of a sudden, I really feel something change in my biome where I am, for the first time now, able to leave food in the plate. To, you know, not to be so focused on food. But perhaps my main question, having watched your program, your podcast, is — what role does the biome really have in our obsession about food. Or is that another one of my many crazinesses?
No, it’s not crazy. The gut microbiome, when it is disturbed, when it’s off, when it’s not in natural balance. So we have, you know, as much as at least a quarter pound of bacteria that live in our gut, and they’re symbiotic organisms. And their job is to help us digest food. Their job is to help create immune chemistry, another interesting chemistry in the body. So we’ve evolved. There are more bacteria in your gut than there are people on planet Earth. And so you’re like a planet. I’m like a planet. And we have all these creatures living in us and on us.
So yes, when the gut microbiome is disturbed, when those bacterial colonies — and there’s many different kinds of bacteria living in there, and other organisms, yeast, etc. When it’s disturbed, we can crave food. And we can indeed crave food by itself. We could crave sweet foods. We can crave sugary foods. So one can definitely create a shift in our weight, in our cravings, when we change the gut microbiome, for sure.
And I usually find for people that it’s a synergy, that — yes, when the gut microbiome is off, we can crave. And at the same time, we have our habits. Like you mentioned — you know, you’re brought up in a culture, you’re brought up in an experience, where food is valuable, food is something, and things revolve around food. So, you know, always good to work on the different angles, you know. Yeah, let’s work on diet, let’s work on the body, let’s work on the microbiome. And let’s also do work in our inner world. And I think when we’re going at the challenge from those different angles, from a more synergistic or holistic place, then our chances of success, I think, are much greater. So how much weight do you want to lose?
Maybe another 30 or 40 pounds.
What is your relation —
But — I’m sorry. But the idea being, it’s not the weight, not the number in the scale. For instance, for the first time in my life I think, yesterday, I managed to get my circumference to be below 40, to be at 40 inches, less than 40, you know. I am in this — I’m 55. As I’m beginning to think, you know, I don’t have another 55 years left, but whatever left, I want them to be good. Again, I am fortunate and unfortunate too, even at a young age, to be able to see people and participate with people in different stages of their lives. So I don’t want — you know, I would like to age well. You know, perhaps that’s the main concern. It’s not the number. It’s the overall health status.
Excellent. I think that’s a great frame — “I’d like to age well.” So, you know, two factors that I love to talk about that are common in this conversation are — okay, aging well. What do I do in terms of what I eat? And what do I do in terms of, sort of, who I am as an eater. Because who I am as a human being will often determine what I’m going to eat. So, just a couple more questions here. What’s your relationship, would you say, with movement, with exercise?
Okay, so I absolutely hate exercise. I mean, it’s funny, my wife wakes up every day in the morning, and she exercises. And she says she feels dopamine, and I have told her I must be genetically broken because if I exercise, I feel tired and sweaty. Having said that, you know, it’s two things. When I began this idea of, “I really want to make a change,” I do have now a trainer who I have coming to the house three times a week. And I know he has to come to the house. And I think he is more expensive than I should be paying for. But I know that’s my commitment device. You know? And I agree, I made the deal with him that he’ll get paid. Even if I cancel, I have to pay him, which he didn’t want to. But I said, “No, you have to,” because that was my — to force myself to do it.
And really, the only kind of exercise I really enjoy, and that I can do a lot, is walking. But especially if I am in an interesting place, or exciting, or like — I mean, I don’t know. I remember being in Dubai and walking like 20,000 steps a day. Because there’s so much to see. Otherwise, walking in the neighborhood doesn’t excite me as much. But what is the one exercise that I can do? But again, I don’t enjoy it. I don’t play sports. I have no interest in sports. So you know, I’m interested in other things.
Yes, yes. So let me share a couple of thoughts with you. First of all, when it comes to what you said at the beginning, when I asked, “If you could wave your magic wand, what would you get?” And it’s — “Well, I’d like to stop being so obsessive about food.” So, first thing I want to say is — I almost want to kind of change that desire for you. And instead of not being obsessive about food, let’s first embrace the fact that food is important to you. And that it’s been important from a young age. And that this is not just a “you” problem. There are lots of people and lots of humans and lots of cultures who are obsessed about food. Watch any animal. If you have a pet, if you have a dog, a cat — they’re obsessed about food. You know, go out into the woods, into the jungle — animals, they’re obsessed about food.
So food tastes good. And food is — you know, oftentimes for many of us, from a young age, it’s where our social world revolves around. And, you know, probably from a young age you can’t even remember, when you ate your meal, some adult was saying, “Good boy.” And you’re a good boy when you eat your meal, because it means you’re healthy and you’re gonna be alive. And if you weren’t eating, that would be a problem.
So we are receiving from a very young age, and you probably got this. On one hand, you’re getting all the messages from your environment that says, “Food is great. Food is wonderful.” Our culture revolves around food, our religion revolves around food, our social experience revolves around food. So you’re getting the message food is important. And then, if you have extra weight, and you get put on a diet, when you’re young, you’re also getting the message that food is bad for you. Because that’s making you fat.
So the net result is we have these conflicting messages. Food is good. Food is not good. Food is my best friend. Food tastes great. Food is amazing. Food is wonderful. Food brings us all together. But food makes me fat, which makes me unlovable. Because when you gain weight when you’re young, people are trying to change your body. You’re getting the message, “Your body, not okay. This weight, not okay.” And when we’re young, not only do we hear, “My body is not okay.” What we really hear is, “I’m not okay.”
So, what happens when we get these conflicting messages is — that’s confusing to anybody at any age, but especially a young person. It’s confusing. We don’t know what to do. And that confusion can cause stress. It can cause anxiety. It can cause upset. And the way we deal with that confusion and stress and anxiety and upset, because we want to get rid of those unwanted emotions — what do you do?
You eat. You turn to food. Why? Because food makes you feel better. Food, in the moment — food, without fail, makes us feel better. It is designed to put us in a pleasure response the instant we have it. So all I’m trying to do right now is to map out what I see is the inner conversation that’s happening in you, perhaps below your radar, that started from an early age.
Because on the one hand, when you talk about food, you’re kind of like an excited child. Which is great. And you should be, you know. Okay, I love food. This is a great thing. Loving food is wonderful. It’s a beautiful thing. Loving nature is great. Loving people. Like, loving anything that’s worth loving is good. And so that’s sort of the hedonist in us, in a positive way — the part of us that can enjoy the pleasures in life. So there’s nothing wrong with that.
The problem is, the challenge is, our relationship with pleasure requires wisdom. As a child, if you did everything that was pleasurable to you, you’d be eating ice cream at every meal during the day. If you were given free rein to indulge in your pleasures, most kids would be eating the wrong things. So we’re given guidelines. So I want to imagine for you that your relationship with pleasure is, and can, continue to evolve.
So I think that’s a piece of the work right now is just — you’re evolving your relationship with pleasure. Part of it is, on the one hand, don’t fight obsession with food. I would rather you embrace, “I love food” Because at a deep level, we all have the association — feel bad, eat food, feel better. You have a special love for food, like a lot of people do. I mean, turn on the TV, how many food shows are there? How many cooking shows are there? Chefs are the most famous people in the world now. So as a planet, we love food. So I don’t want you to fight that. I want you to embrace it. And at the same time, let’s continue to evolve and grow your relationship with food and pleasure.
So the question is, what does that mean? What does that mean — “Well, let’s continue to evolve and grow your relationship with food and pleasure?” Here’s a couple of thoughts. Because food was problematic for you at a young age. You were given mixed messages: “Food is wonderful, food is great. And food is bad, because it makes you fat, and you shouldn’t eat it.” So, then we turn to food. And we adopt the habit oftentimes, to eat unconsciously, to eat fast. To eat and not be present. Part of that can be very familial and cultural. If the people around you are fast eaters, you will likely become a fast eater. If they’re slow eaters, you’ll likely become a slow eater.
So part of that is just our upbringing. But it becomes a habit. And by habit, I mean, an unconscious, automatic, repetitive behavior that does itself. We can also eat food quickly because a part of us thinks, “I shouldn’t be eating this. It’s bad.” Part of us thinks, “This is a crime.” So if you’re going to commit a crime, the criminal in you is very smart, and it knows — you commit the crime quickly. If you’re going to rob a bank, you don’t take all day. You get in, and you get out. If you’re going to eat something and food is bad for you — you really shouldn’t be eating it, but it’s really good — we’re going to tend to eat it fast. When we eat fast, we create a whole different physiology.
Now, here’s where the science of it comes in. When you and I eat fast, we go into a stress response. Eating fast is a stressor for the body. It puts us in sympathetic nervous system dominance, that stress state deregulates our appetite. When we’re in a stress state, you don’t have full access to your logical, linear, aware mind, when it comes to, “Am I full? Am I satiated?” Because the stress state is designed to help you run from a lion. It’s doesn’t help you figure out if you’re full or not.
So I would love to see you adopt the practice — it’s a practice — of eating slow. And by eating slow — it’s not just a speed. It means relaxed and present and aware, and taking in all the pleasure that you say you enjoy. So what’s gonna happen is, it regulates your appetite more, so you’re actually getting what you want from the food. I want pleasure. I want taste.
It takes the body approximately 20 minutes to realize it’s full. We usually eat much quicker than that. But the point is, it takes time for the body to realize it’s full. It takes sensation. If you eat quickly — I’m sure you’ve had this experience. You eat quickly, and it’s a big meal. Your belly feels full, but your mouth still feels hungry. That’s because the brain in the belly, the enteric nervous system, is smart enough to say, “Hey, there’s a lot of food in here. I’m full.” Your head brain is looking for tastes and pleasure and aroma and satisfaction. And it didn’t get that, because you ate quickly and you weren’t paying attention. So the brain says, “Well, I don’t remember eating. I don’t remember getting food,” and it screams, “Hungry!”
So learning to slow your body down and relax with food not only changes your appetite regulation. It changes your digestive capacity. Because our digestion is weakened, and oftentimes, dramatically in a stress response. Our assimilation is weakened. Which means, if I eat in a stress response, I will excrete nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fat soluble vitamins — literally, excrete nutrition.
Additionally, for a majority of people, when we’re constantly under stress, and especially if we’re eating under stress — you’re creating stress hormones, which signal the body to store weight and store fat and not build muscle. That’s cortisol. So it’s you kind of slowing down and being in your body with food, as opposed to being in your head with food.
May I make two comments?
You may make five comments.
Thank you. You’re very generous. So yeah. You know, perhaps my greatest — the person I spend the most time with is my wife. And she always amazes me because she would tell me things like, “Oh, I can’t eat any more, because then I won’t have space for dessert.” Or “I won’t have — you know, I can’t eat any more of the appetizer because I won’t have space.” And it’s like, “What do you mean? Do you have a gauge inside you, that you know how food…?” But I have never understood — what does it mean to be full? And I decided, you stop eating when there is no more food.
And remember, we discuss a little about Brazil. You know, Brazil is a country where people that have the means engage in — I don’t know if you’ve ever been there — the idea of the all-you-can-eat buffets, and the place where they come with the big skewers of meat, you know. It’s like, you know, what is like endless food. Food is great, and food is very, very cheap, as compared with Europe or the States. And again, as I told you, I have done everything, every diet known to mankind, and taken every kind of crazy product. And the only time in my life where I have felt my stomach — that there’ll be a correlation between the food and some kind of physical sensation — is when I have taken HCG. Which is some bizarre thing that is — makes me feel like I’m pregnant or something. Like the extract of the urine of pregnant mare, or some stuff like that. And at that point, I do feel that, you know. There was one comment, and I — again, I’m always trying to understand what was about the HCG, which I did two or three times. And I lost an enormous amount of weight, just to gain it all back.
That was the one thing. The second thing is — yes, the idea of being present is something I tried to work out in my mind, yes. Because I may be eating the main dish and already thinking about what’s for dessert. Or I may be traveling some great place, and instead of looking here, I’m thinking, “Okay, where am I going next?” I’m always on that mode of — something I probably need to figure out, how to work on being more present.
Yes, being more present and making that practice — start that practice with food and with eating. So you are present with the food. You are giving yourself — I mean, it’s not like I’m asking you to do something horrible. I’m asking you to do the thing that you want to do. You want to eat that. So if you’re going to eat it, eat it. And your wife, when you say she understands — like, “Okay, no, I got to stop there because I need room for dessert.” And you’re thinking like, “Well, what’s that gauge?” Well, she has that gauge because she’s likely trained her body. Because she’s present to her body in a different way than you might be.
And it’s a learning. And you know — you’re a rabbi. You’re a learned man. If you want to learn wisdom, if you want to study a sacred book – you’ve got to slow down. You’ve got to be present. You’ve got to consume it. You have to chew on it. You have to think about it. You have to ruminate. So the same way your mind learns, and your mind finds fine distinctions relative to the Torah, is the same way your body learns. Your body needs time. It needs to ruminate. It needs to digest. It needs to feel. It just needs spaciousness. Wisdom needs spaciousness. Learning needs spaciousness. So I’m seeing this as your body learning.
Now, just a tiny bit of a trap for you — not a big one, just a little one — is, you want to solve this with your brain. “Well, okay, I took HCG, and that made me feel good. Like, what was that about?” It’s a cheat code. Okay? It just works temporarily. Let’s just leave it at that. And what I’m going to suggest to you is going to work long-term is, you create a whole new relationship with your body and with food, which is taking a deep breath and learning how to be present with it.
Because what that does is, it allows you to not be that 10 or 12, or 13-year-old, who was put on a diet, who was all confused about food. There is a part of you — when you eat, you go into your childhood. You’re not in your wisdom. There are certain things you do, when you do it, you’re in your wisdom. If you’re being a rabbi, if you’re being a counselor, a teacher — you’re in your wisdom. You’re grounded. You’re present. You’re clear. You’re not distracted. You’re focused on the thing you’re doing, and what you’re saying, and on the person in front of you. That’s when you’re in your wisdom.
So I’m suggesting that your task is to cultivate that similar kind of wisdom with food and with your body. And you’re going to just be a bit of a beginner here. And you’ve already learned a lot. But you’re sort of a beginner, and saying, “Okay, I’m going to take a deep breath, or two or three or four, with every meal and every time I eat, and just enjoy the food.” Receive the pleasure from it. Be in that moment. Because what happens is, when the mind is disturbed, it wants to go in all kinds of other directions. When the mind is disturbed, it can’t focus. If you’re trying to teach a student and they can’t focus, you have to help them focus. Otherwise, nothing’s gonna happen. So it’s learning how to use the mind in a more precision way when it comes to food — like, “Oh, this is what I’m doing. Therefore, I’m going to do it.”
I hear you. Yeah. That’s good.
Now, same thing with exercise. So I love that you have a trainer, and how you’re setting that up. But what I love even more is that you’re aware of certain things. And you especially mentioned walking, that — sounds like walking gives you pleasure. And I’m interested for you, in any kind of movement, any way that you’re in your body, that makes you feel good to be in your body. That’s a starting place. So we’re talking about creating lifelong habits. So you can age well, and you can live younger, longer.
It’s all about being in the body in a way that works for you. You’re not going to do things that you hate, in terms of movement. That’s too much pressure. But it’s finding, first, the things that you actually love to do. “Oh, I love to walk.” Great, walk more. And then maybe keep your eye open for — what are other kinds of movement that I might be interested in? Other kinds of exercise that I might be interested in or curious about, that isn’t just about, “You need to do this.” I’m looking for activities that help you feel good. It might be hiking in nature. It might be getting on a bicycle.
Oftentimes if we want the body to find its natural weight, which is a wonderful desire — “Yeah, I want my body to be at its natural weight” — what we’re really saying is, “I want my body to be in its natural state.” Your natural weight is just a natural state. It’s where it ought to be. Your natural state is where — yeah, your body’s relatively functioning well, for your age. So then it’s about doing things that are natural to us. It’s natural to human beings to move. Unfortunately, we live in a world that doesn’t support that, because you have to sit all day, for a lot of us. So it’s easy to get into the lifelong habit of, “I’m not moving. I’m not moving in a way that would make me wish to move.” A lot of exercise occurs as punishment. This is what you do to punish yourself for having fat: you exercise. This is what you do to punish yourself for having eaten: exercise.
So this is a little bit more of a subtle shift, but I want you to start to notice feelings of joy that you have in your body when you’re moving it in certain ways. So when you’re walking, I want you to notice what feels good. “Do my legs feel good? Do my lungs feel good? Does my skin?” Like, what feels good about that? And really start to notice those sensations. Because the more you notice those sensations, the more you’re in your body. And the more you’re in your body, the more the body has the best chance to find its natural weight. Because our natural state is to be in our body. To just be inhabiting it and be aware, and sensing our environment, and noticing our food. And listening to the body. Am I tired? Do I need to sleep? Am I overstressed? Do I need to relax?
Okay, I’m talking so much here. What’s landing for you, Jacques? What’s happening?
No, I’m listening. Because, right. Because everything you say — that is the issue. I am extremely cerebral. So I can think the idea of feeling my body is — you know, even as you are saying, “What do I do that I like?” I guess I like to do stuff that’s purposeful. So if I’m doing something that achieves something — like, I’m carrying pebbles from here to there because I need to move my garden — I’m making it up, you know. Then, okay. That will feel good, because it serves a purpose, versus the — again, the idea of just doing exercises, you know, because I’m supposed to do it.
You know, even my whole approach to the trainer was, “Okay, well, we’re gonna look at this as investment. We’re going to try to build muscle.” Because building muscle consumes more calories than fat. It’s more compact. So even if I stay the same weight but I lose fat and gain muscle, not only I will look better — which again, I’m married. I don’t need to be looking good for anybody else… And she’s very accepting. So it’s good. But you know, I will be making the investment of having more muscle, which means I have the ability to eat more calories without gaining weight, versus having fat. You know, basically raising my basal metabolism.
And the doctor that I have been going to — they have this really, really $10,000 fancy scale that tells you everything, including graphs, how much muscle you have, how your basal metabolism is improving, you know. But I have never thought about the idea of, “How do I feel?” Because again, normally, I am not in touch with what I feel. I’m in touch with what I think and what other people think. You know, and I’m thinking, “Look how this guy is giving you all this valuable advice that you have never thought on by yourself. How lucky you are to gain from other people’s wisdom.”
So it’s a perfectly wonderful, reasonable strategy. And this is how the masculine mind tends to work. The masculine mind is purposeful. Masculine mind doesn’t want to do things that don’t make sense. You give a masculine mind a purpose, and it’s very happy. “Okay, I pick up these rocks and I move them over here. That’s purposeful. I’m getting something done, and I can see what I just did. So I can measure it. Rocks are over here. Now they’re over here. Muscle was here. Now it’s here.” Great. So that’s wonderful.
And let’s just put an “and” onto that: And… why do you want more muscle? Why do you want to be at your natural weight? Why do you want to be healthier? Well, you’re gonna have a better experience of life. You’re gonna be a happier man. If I get to live younger, longer, have more energy, have less symptoms, have less disease, be around longer for my family, that’s going to make me a happier man. That’s going to make me feel good.
You’re not going to die and be before the Lord and say, you know, “Hey, look at this. My blood pressure was great, and my insulin levels were great.” Like, no, that’s not the ultimate measure of a man, of a human being. The measure of us is: Who are we? What did we do? Who do we impact? How did you love? How did you feel? How did other people feel? How did you give your gifts? So you want to be healthy because it’s going to make you be your best self. As a human being. As a man in this world.
So a part of that equation — yeah, part of it is very measurable: “Here’s my biomarkers.” But the other part is: How do you feel? Because monitoring those feelings are a guiding light to moving you in the right direction. It’s putting you in your body. When you’re experiencing sensations — “I’m experiencing the meal that I’m eating” — that actually has a scientific impact on the body. When you experience the food that you’re eating, your body is in the optimum state of digestion and assimilation and calorie burning and natural appetite regulation. All because you’re feeling the experience that you’re in.
When you’re feeling your body — “Oh, this walking feels good” — you’re then creating the very chemistry that you wish to have. You ultimately want to have the kind of chemistry and metabolism in your body that gives you the net result of, “Ah. Feels good to be me.” So we don’t put that off into the future. We start to notice those feelings now. And that’s what helps you get better and better at noticing, “Oh, hmm. I’m right before the point where I’m full. Maybe I pause there.” You’ll begin to notice those distinctions as you slow down and learn about your body and feel your body more. So it’s just another tool in your toolkit.
Very good. Excellent.
I think you’re on your way. I think — you know, so much of it is you noticing that your task is to mature your relationship with food. So you’re no longer a teenager when it comes to food. We want to get you caught up to being a 55-year-old when it comes to food. We want to apply the same wisdom and insight that you apply to other areas of your life. We want to apply that wisdom to food, to your relationship with food, your relationship with your body.
So when I say don’t worry about obsessing about food, what I’m saying is, just allow the fact that food is important for you. And let’s embrace your relationship with food. Let’s actually love it while you’re doing it. Because if you get what you want from the experience, because you’re fully present, you’ll be obsessing about it less. One of the reasons why we will obsess about food is because we never get what we want. Once you get what you want, you’re satisfied. When you truly get what you want, for the moment, for a time being, you’re satisfied.
So that’s why it’s important to be able to be present with food, be present with the meal. Own, acknowledge the part of you that — “Yeah, food is important to me.” Great. Then let’s give it the importance it deserves by paying attention to it, and putting yourself into it so you get what you want, so you can then move on to the next thing. Food becomes less important in a strange way, or the thinking about it becomes less important. Food will still always be important to you. Which is fine. It’s important to me. It’s important. It’s biologically important to everybody. Some people — just doesn’t matter to them about the taste or the pleasure necessarily. That’s not you. That’s fine. We’re all different.
And perhaps also, it’s interesting to notice — what else? Like, “What else in life brings me pleasure, other than food?” Because a lot of times, when we’re not spreading the love and spreading out the pleasure, our favorite pleasures become artificially important. Meaning, I see a lot of clients, and — this is not you, but in its extreme, I see a lot of people who — they don’t like their life. They’re not in relationship. They don’t have a lot of close connection. They don’t have intimacy. They don’t have a purpose. So the best thing in their life is food. Food gives them the most pleasure. And they obsess about it. And they think about. And they eat it. And then, they come to me, and they say, “I don’t want to obsess about food, and think about it and eat it so much.” And they think they have a food problem. No. I would not take away food from you, because then you would be miserable. Because that’s your best pleasure.
Instead, we have to look at how to make the rest of your life as good or better than food. Because then food will just begin to find its rightful place. So it might be helpful to just write an inventory of everything in life, that you can possibly think of, that gives you pleasure, and makes you feel good. Persons, places, things, thoughts, experiences, travels — anything other than food that makes you feel good. And just notice what wants more of your attention on that list.
Very good. Good idea. Good concept.
That’s my job.
And apparently you do it well.
Yeah, that’s what people say.
How you feeling? Has this been a good conversation for you?
Tremendously good, yes. Really appreciate it. Again, you always appreciate learning from somebody smarter than you. And everybody smarter than you in some area. You know, it does say in one of our texts, “Who is wise? The one who learns from every person.” From you, obviously, there’s much to learn. And I appreciate you giving me your time, and everything you do here.
Well, Jacques. I appreciate the conversation. I appreciate your willingness. And I wish you the best of good fortune and good luck. Thank you, my friend.
Thank you. Thank you.
Yes, thank you, my friend. And thanks, everybody, for tuning in. Take care.
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