How much will you eat if you can have as much as you want?

Whatever you want to eat
and as much as you want to eat
now
later
today
tomorrow and the next day?

Under these conditions,
the answer was
very little,
as my retreat participants discovered.

Each participant was required to bring 3 foods that they believe they have no control over.
When they emailed me their list of ‘forbidden foods’,
I told them to bring enough for everyone,
more than they could ever eat in 2 days.

We laid it all out on a gorgeous wooden platter.

They kept looking at me
waiting for the catch
asking when they could eat it (anytime)
could they eat it (of course)
was I watching what they ate (why would I care?)

The only instructions (thank you Martha Beck), taped to the fridge, were:

RETREAT RULES

1.     eat whatever you truly enjoy

2.      truly enjoy whatever you eat

For in these 2 simple conditions lie all the eating tools you need to reach your natural weight without ever having to follow a single expert, book or diet (other than your own body).

And here’s why:
If you eat what you really want, you’ll feel satisfied,
and most of us hit ‘binge control’ when we’re feeling deprived or resentful after we ate cottage cheese salad when we really wanted quiche.
With time, without any restrictions, you’ll mostly choose foods that feel fantastic in your body, which are foods that nourish you.
AND
If you stop eating the minute you stop truly enjoying your food, you will never overeat
because it’s impossible to really enjoy eating if your stomach is full.

One brave soul ordered an entire birthday cake.
Four women, no one’s birthday to celebrate.
Brilliance that she is, she knew that cake had a life-changing lesson to teach her.
Before her first bite, she told us she wanted to eat a quarter of the cake.
I assured her that she absolutely could (she knew the above two rules).

After 2 bites, she looked up and said: “I’m done”
got up
and threw the rest of her slice away.

How are you feeling?
I called into the kitchen as she made her way to the garbage bin
“Fine”, she said nonchalantly,
as if I’d asked how she was feeling about tossing her used napkin.

This is a woman was made to finish her plate as a child.
A year ago, her cousin chased her around the kitchen to pry stale leftovers from her to throw away.

How did this shift happen?
Because she now knows,
with clarity and certainty
that cake is not the enemy
that there is nothing good or bad about cake
that there will be more tomorrow
and the next day
and whenever she wants.

Others discovered that
a few chips, eaten one at a time (previously believed to exist only in large handfuls), are enough.
one lemon cream cookie (regularly eaten by the package), eaten one bite at a time, is enough.
wine gums, (routinely devoured by the bagful), when eaten one at a time, are actually nauseating.

One woman discovered that
when she gives herself permission to eat peanut M&Ms (previously banned from her cottage) whenever she wants
she didn’t actually want to eat any.
A night later, at a party, she ate 2 bites of cake, and discovered that,
when eaten mindfully, it was enough.

A few bites, truly enjoyed,
usually translates into
a few pounds, effortlessly lost,
which usually means
a huge sigh of freedom
which tastes way better than the gooiest sweetest cake.

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About Forever Free with Bev Aron, Certified Weight Loss Coach

I work with emotional eaters who desperately want relief from emotional eating, but can't seem to do it on their own. They know they need to eat less and move more, but can't figure out why they aren't doing it. My specialty is showing them the why and the how. I also work with parents who are worried about their children's weight. I help those parents encourage their children to have a healthy body image and a healthy relationship with food.
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