Isabel Foxen Duke

How to stop eating peanut butter out of jar

When I used to have water polo practice from 9pm-11pm at night in college, I would get home at midnight. I just played 2 hours of water polo, so I was pretty friggin' hungry. 

But..... I was on diet.

I was carefully counting calories. I was purposefully not buying things from the grocery store. Most importantly, I heard from Oprah or someone that you shouldn't eat after 7 PM.  

Sometimes, I would successfully eschew the fridge. Other times, I would try to just have one tablespoon of peanut butter. 

But more often than not, I ate a lot of tablespoons of peanut butter. Like sometimes I would pull a muscle in my mouth voraciously scooping peanut butter. 

I felt out of control. I was so frustrated and ashamed. 

Isabel Foxen Duke, founder of Stop Fighting Food, calls this “feeling crazy around food.” 

Isabel Foxen Duke is one fabulous babe. In fact, a lot of her work was really critical to me healing my relationship with food.  I've listed her as a reference for like a million blog posts. 

I'm not the only one. Isabel is one of the most well-respected coaches in the emotional eating world. Her approach is about changing your mindset around food. 

 If I had these videos when I was binging on peanut butter, I would have realized that I needed food. Eating peanut butter was actually a pretty good choice. 

If you're tired of swinging between "this time I've got it," and "what the hell is wrong with me? Why can't I get my hand out of this peanut butter jar?" I encourage you to check her out. 

Isabel’s offering a free video training series. The series unpacks the emotional and psychological  components to changing your relationship with food. 

If this is a topic that speaks to you, I highly recommend you sign up to get her free vids.

Here’s the link again to sign up for this free training


PS: I am a paid affiliate for Isabel's program. She still does a kick-ass job though. Even Ricki Lake likes her. If you sign up using my link, you can help me pay my squarespace rent. 

Why we "overeat"

Since I started eating intuitively, I haven't really been "too full."

Back in my dieting days, I would often find myself in situations where my belly would be terribly full. 

I've talked about this before in my mac and cheese episode  and exercise is a drug post.

Many things cause overeating. Want to figure out the reason you can't stop? 

Here are three common motivations for overstuffing: 

1. Dieting

So says the great and powerful Isabel Foxen Duke

"The only time you will ever feel 'out of control' around a specific food, is when you’re trying to control it to begin with."

Why would you feel "out of control" if you're not controlling food in the first place?

Science shows how restriction can lead to binging. The most famous experiment was the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. Young men followed a strict "semi-starvation" diet for a period of 24 weeks.  A few of the dudes had a "complete breakdown in control." and broke into the food supply. 

Dieting creates scarcity. Your body doesn't know the difference between a diet and a famine. When you get your hands on a batch of fresh-baked cookies, your survival instincts kick in.

Even perceived restriction can lead to overeating. This is what the intuitive eating ladies call "last supper" mentality. You go nuts on food because your gut thinks there's not more coming soon. 

This made sense to the prehistoric humans who understood that winter was coming. Your body knows to eat a little extra and store it on your booty for the those colder months.. 

2. Feelings

I read through a BUNCH of binge eating disorder websites to write this bloggy post. They all refer to "psychology" as a reason for binge eating. 

I like to think psychology is fancy doctor-speak for feelings. Food is fantastic at numbing. It's also designed to make you feel good. A lot of foods activate dopamine and serotonin responses in your brain.

I used to eat a TON of cereal after I spent all day working as a cashier. I was depressed and I wanted to feel better.

When I was chowing down on my cinnamon sweeties, I was able to zone out on Hulu and simple sugars. It felt good to be "bad." Sia would call it a cheap thrill. Eating a few bowls of cereal at 11 pm at night was the most exciting part of my excruciatingly boring day. 

I think emotional eating gets a bad wrap. It's not IDEAL to shove your feelings down into a box of cereal but for me, that habit helped me cope with a difficult part of my life. Since I quit the job, I haven't eaten that cereal at all. 

3. Because you want to

Sometimes, I just eat a lot of something because it is, for real, not something I'm going to have later. For example, when I lived in Argentina, I ate spoonfuls of dulce de leche (it is BOMB there). 

I eat an extra serving at Thanksgiving because it's not going to be around for another year. Thanksgiving is an elaborate meal that we have a national holiday just to prepare for. Ain't nobody got time for all those side dishes any other time of year. 

Whatever the reason, it's OKAY to overeat sometimes. But, if you want to prevent that gaseous uncomfortable fullness in the future, subscribe below. 

Changing your Body

I need to start off this post with an apology. I'm sorry. I wrote a sentence a little flippantly that really needs A LOT of context, caveats, and 'splainin'.

"So really changing your body is not attainable," wrote myself last week. 

A friend I respect pointed out how this sentence by itself could be off-putting. I'm sorry because I often say inflammatory things that are really designed to mean something else. I call it Kanye syndrome.  

So, what's wrong with this sentence? 

1. It's factually inaccurate. 

Our bodies change constantly over time. If bodies didn't change we'd all be a bunch of squiggly babies walking around. Also, surgery exists. 

2. It dismisses the impact that other healthy habits can have in changing your body beyond weight loss. 

You can temporarily lose weight by restricting your calories no matter the content. In other words, you can just eat Snickers all day but as long as you eat fewer Snickers than calories required to keep your body at its current weight, you will lose weight, at least temporarily. 

Food is just one component of our health. And calorie restriction is just one way to lose weight. Environmental, social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual factors all play into our health.  Generally, eating lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, limiting alcohol, not smoking, and getting regular exercise and sleep all help to increase longevity. These things do not even include mental, social, emotional, and spiritual health that might be impacting your body's ability to fight disease. 

As Linda Bacon has referenced in her book (and Isabel Foxen Duke has quote her many times), curing heart disease by treating weight loss is like curing lung cancer by treating yellow teeth.  Health issues are often correlated with having a higher weight but weight only "weakly predicts longevity." Again, skinny does not necessarily mean healthy. Skinny people can eat crappy foods, take bad care of themselves and get sick too. 

Changing your diet might change your biochemistry and physiology but it may not change your weight. 

3. I'm not accounting for the people who have changed their body weight.

I know people who have lost significant amounts of weight and have been able to keep it off. To you, kudos. If you dieted to get there, you're especially rare because about 3-5 people of 100 are able to pull that off. 

This, as my homegirl Isabel (have I mentioned she's got a really amazing FREE video series out?) puts it in her latest podcast with Kaila Prins, is a bad bet. If somebody told you to make an investment of $10,000 and there's a 3% chance you'll get paid $200,000 but if you lose, you could actually end up in debt, would you take that wager? Call me Mr. Wonderful, but I don't like those odds. 

So, now that I've clarified a few inaccuracies, here's what I meant to say: 

1. Even if you are able to permanently lose weight, you might not lose so much weight that you finally look like a Greek statue or the cover of a magazine.

If you are truly doing it in a sustainable way, it probably consists of slow and steady changes that happen gradually over time. You might lose 10 pounds permanently but never the 30 you were hoping for to get back to your high school karate fighting weight. 

2. You might be able to lose so much weight that you look like a Greek statue but it requires more than what diet companies advertise. 

Changing your body permanently is not as easy as diet companies would like you to believe. It's not just eat just eat these weird kale cookies for 30 days and look like Halle Berry.

Look at, say, an Olympic athlete. Having swum for many years, I knew even at age 11 that I did not have what it took to get to the Olympic level of swimming. I straight up didn't have the dedication. Getting to the Olympic level would have required 5-6+hours of training per day ALL YEAR LONG. This would have meant relinquishing academics, piano lessons, snowboarding on the weekends, having friends and even just watching old episodes of Wings on USA. 

For me, this was too much to give up. I had to know what was happening in that Nantucket airport. What would you have to give up in your life to get your body to this "level?"

It's just a lot of time and you have to do it FOREVER. FOR-EV-ER! 

3. You might be able to lose so much weight that you look like a Greek statue but it makes you crazy and obsessive around food and exercise. Your whole life, including your career and relationships, might be consumed by it. If it gets really bad, you can develop an eating disorder that requires years of expensive treatment and causes long-term health problems.

One can look at other women in my field, like Maddy Moon, to see how what seems like a healthy pursuit of a goal can spiral into obsession. Eating disorders are really hard on people's lives. I saw that and heard about it during the time that I worked for an eating disorder treatment center. Bad eating disorders can cause bone issues like osteoporosis. Purging behaviors can cause digestive distress and tooth decay. And, having worked in the billing department, I know it is EXPENSIVE. 

One final disclaimer: I'm not trying to dismiss anyone who was ever interested in weight loss as frivolous or foolish. 

I'm saying this because there's a lot of misinformation out there that has real consequences for people in their lives. I care about giving people accurate information so we can make informed decisions about how we want to spend our lives. 

Thanks for reading this super long post. I hope it was useful.

Do you think this clarifies things? Does this resonate with you? Anything problematic? In the comments or via email, let me know!

Proof of skinny

When I was in high school, I remember the day I looked around the room and started comparing my body to the other girls' bodies. 

Instead of seeing myself as a unique person, I felt like I needed to be thin like these beautiful cheerleaders, runners, lacrosse players, etc. I just wasn't "working hard enough". When I got to college in New York City,  the women were even thinner and even more beautiful. And again, I thought to myself, "What am I doing wrong that I don't have the body that these women have?" 

This is when I really started to get disordered around food because a normal person would see women this thin and think, "not for me." But, I saw these women the way a poor person sees a stock broker livin' large. I just kind of figured "I'm sure it's hard work, but if that woman could do it, I can too."

When you see thin people as something you can attain, every thin person looks like evidence that thinness is attainable. Thin people are not proof that being thin is a goal you can attain. All thin people really prove is that thin people exist.

And that's just it. Research shows that 95% of diets don't work. So, really, changing your body is not attainable. In fact, according to Isabel Foxen Duke and the famous Ancel Keys study, dieting actually physiologically sets you up for a binge. In fact, studies have correlated weight GAIN with dieting. 

In other words, changing your body weight beyond a certain range is physically impossible over the long term. 

So, instead of seeing all the thin people as moral, attractive, hard workers who just had the diligence and persistence to achieve what they had, think of them instead as people with natural blonde hair and brown eyes. They just have what they have. They may not have "worked for it."

You, my friend, are not your weight and neither are the thin people who you think you want to be. 

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