A Scary Exercise That Changes Your Eating?
by Joan Kent, PhD
My client was crying. She was upset by what she thought I had asked her to do. She was afraid she'd have to starve all day. She was afraid she'd binge the next day — or for several days.
I had not asked her to starve, but her emotional reaction was genuine. All I had asked her to do was try an exercise I'll share with you in a moment.
I knew the exercise would ground her in solid awareness of her body's signals of when to eat. I expected pushback, but not quite like this. As she cried, I addressed her concerns point by point.
So What's This Scary Food Exercise?
Here it is. Pick one day — even half a day — to try it.
The goal is to get hungry as often as possible during the day. Eat small amounts each time you feel hungry — to ensure as many hunger experiences as possible throughout the day.
BUT!! Every time you feel hungry, it's time to eat! Eat just enough to take away the hunger, rather than to satiate yourself. But do eat.
One point of this exercise is to develop body awareness by avoiding mindless eating. So before eating as usual — say, first thing in the morning or when it's "time" for lunch or dinner — check in with your stomach to see if you're really hungry. Discover what hunger feels like.
Another key is to avoid eating now to prevent hunger later. Stay in the moment with your hunger and with your eating. Keep your behavior logical and predictable: I'm hungry. I eat. I get hungry again. I eat.
Important suggestion: Do this when you have a light schedule — or no set schedule at all — so you can really focus on the process.
I Didn't Invent This Food Exercise
Many years ago, I read about this in a book. Unfortunately for me — the PhD who always cites her sources — it was a long time ago, and I've forgotten whose exercise it is. I'm not trying to claim it as my own; I just can't recall who came up with it. My apologies (and thanks) go to the author.
The Exercise Is Great Because It Works
What happens? Every client I've walked through this process — without exception — reports feeling grounded and aware of the hunger/eating cycle after trying it.
My clients say they now feel confident in their ability to recognize signals that tell them when their bodies need food — and when they don't. They feel they can trust what their bodies are telling them and respond appropriately.
I've never asked a client to eat this way longer than one day. It's never necessary. Every client who follows the instructions has the same positive experience.
To be clear, you don't have to go through life eating only a bite or two of food at a time — just the day of the exercise.
And What Happened to My Crying Client?
She understood what I'd been asking her to do and agreed to try it for half a day. She ended up doing the whole day — and said she "got" what I had wanted her to discover regarding hunger and food intake.
Whatever helps my clients feel sure of their food decisions boosts their self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. This "scary" exercise makes them more effective in following my system and getting results.
The exercise is also in keeping with one of my favorite quotations. It's from Simone de Beauvoir: "Confidence in the body is confidence in the self."
Helping my clients gain control, lose weight, improve their health, boost their mood, and feel great is my mission. It works! I've helped clients reverse diabetes, irritable bowel, autism, ADD, MS, and more. Just visit www.LastResortNutrition.com and grab your free Empowered Eating Consult. Find out how easy it is to start moving toward your health goals, whatever they may be. I'm passionate about helping you do that.
Brought to you by Dr. Joan Kent, best-selling author of Stronger Than Sugar: 7 Simple Steps to Defeat Sugar Addiction, Lift Your Mood, and Transform Your Health.