The Pleasure of Food

Eating is truly one of life's most pleasurable and sensuous activities. Quite simply, food tastes good. It pleases all your senses of taste. Food offers delightful aromas and textures. It refreshes us. Enjoying food, especially delicious food, is one of the most natural experiences in the world. Hooray!

So why do we persist in our love-hate relationship with food? It's so unnecessary. Food in and of itself cannot make you fat. It has no such power. The power resides in you and your eating habits. If you overeat any food, you can gain weight. If you eat food using the 0-5 approach, you can reach your ideal size.

A Healthy Appetite Really Is Healthy

Just as hunger is a valuable feeling you don't want to suppress, a normal appetite is a good thing, too. Appetite is the desire for food. Your normal appetite for certain foods fluctuates from day to day. You should honor your appetite. Don't ignore or resist its natural function. For instance, you might have an appetite for eggs and bacon for breakfast. You don't have to resist your appetite and eat only cereal. Go ahead and eat the eggs and bacon.

Crazy About Those Cravings

Unfortunately, there is such a thing as a false appetite. A false appetite is basically an irrational craving. Your brain becomes self-programmed to desire something so strongly that it incites you to compulsive consumption. Your false appetite often is for foods that can be harmful, such as allergic foods, lots of sugar, and highly processed refined starches such as breads, pasta, cookies, and cakes. We call these fluffy starches.

Mike, a college student, is allergic to wheat, corn, and milk products. They give him stomach cramps and frequent diarrhea. He can't resist eating certain wheat products, especially sandwich bread ... even when it makes him sick. His craving for bread can be so extreme that he will even put a fancy steak between two pieces of bread with a couple slices of cheese. Like someone who needs a daily fix of coffee, his desire for bread compels him to eat irrationally. His eating habits are ruining his fun and health. Of course, he can ultimately control his urge for these allergic foods by substituting other foods he loves that aren't harmful.

You can manage your appetite by directing it toward good-for-you foods such as the basics--meat, fruits, vegetables, and fats. If one day you have an urge for broccoli, give in to it. Ditto for steak, salmon, salad, and so on. Your body will be glad you did. You don't need to battle your appetite. Just manage it as one part of your overall eating approach.

Good Digestion Comes with Pleasurable Eating

Many people who are overweight have poor digestion. For the most part, poor digestion is not inherited or genetic. We give it to ourselves through the way we eat. Eating to soothe stress or anxiety is often the culprit.

Alas, poor digestion can lead to weight problems. Here's how: When a person feels stressed, the part of the central nervous system that regulates digestion switches off. This is called the parasympathetic nervous system. At those times of stress, the body can take in food and process some of it, but digestion doesn't work correctly to extract all the nutritional goodness from the food.

Poor digestion is not always obvious by observing symptoms. You could get heartburn, diarrhea, or constipation, but not always. Poor digestion can be seemingly silent.

If you eat when you are stressed, anxious, or nervous, you might as well be eating cardboard for all the nutrients your body gets. Yes, eating when stressed is a gaining situation. Now you might think, well, gosh, if I'm not digesting, the calories aren't getting handled, so I should be losing weight. Good idea, but wrong reality. When digestion is impaired, the body starts "starving" from lack of necessary nutrients. Yes, it goes into starvation metabolism and starts hoarding fat and energy. It thinks it's in a famine. The good news is that it's easy to make some corrections and get rid of stress at mealtimes.

If you feel stressed often, it can be helpful to take a supplement that contains multiple B vitamins. These help, but you could still find yourself stressed at mealtimes. Here's how to make meals a pleasant "losing" experience.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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