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Episode 93: Lessons From Julia Child

Weight Loss for Food-Lovers with Molly Zemek

Episode 93


No one says “joie de vivre” like Julia Child, the most infectiously joyful food-lover of all time. A recent documentary about this legendary master of French cuisine prompts Molly to reflect on the intersection between her work and Julia’s attitude towards eating.

In this episode of Weight Loss for Food-Lovers, Molly offers up five gem-like quotes from Julia, whose early public-television cooking shows she devoured years ago. Among the many things Molly admired was Julia’s lack of perfectionism. She not only made mistakes, she embraced them without shame. It was all part of the messy fun of life – which is an important note to take for those of us who struggle with rigid ideas of “good” foods versus “bad.”

This compendium of helpful quotations will help you question and recognize how you regard the art of eating, the emotional baggage you bring and the attitudes you can shift once you’ve brought some mindfulness. Enjoy this delicious buffet of thought-provoking, oh-so-Julia words of wisdom combined with Molly’s contemporary tips and advice!

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Topics Covered

  • Molly muses on Julia Child, and what the French Chef has meant to her through the years.

  • While Julia Child was known for her culinary skills, she also had a strong point of view on American diet culture. Well ahead of her time, she understood the damaging effect of categorizing foods as “good” or “bad.”

  • In an effort to be thin, many people are afraid to be around some foods, feeling powerless. It’s a framework that precludes a healthy relationship with nourishment – which is at the heart of Molly’s program.

  • Molly highlights five Julia Child quotations that are emblematic of her approach to enjoying good food in moderation.

  • #1 “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”

    • Julia Child loved cooking with fat, which she believed gives food it’s flavor – and Molly agrees!

    • Many diets promote low-fat diets, but the result turns out to be the substitution of processed foods full of sugar and other undesirable ingredients that affect hunger hormones and cause insulin spikes.

    • Eating full fat instead of low fat is not only a way to add incredible flavor but also keep yourself satisfied so you don’t have to contend with hunger.

    • An ancillary benefit: When you keep insulin levels low, you are more likely to burn rather than store fat.

  • #2 “If you don’t have a really good meal, you’re probably always snacking because you’re not satisfied.”

    • Most diets are centered around elimination and feature foods that are boring and unsatisfying. The objective is to be bland and boring.

    • That deprivation and dissatisfaction boomerangs in a swing towards indulging in snacks and overeating.

    • Molly’s goal is to keep insulin levels low so that calories can be calibrated, your hunger level is in sync with your ideal body size, your leptin and insulin levels are regulated and sensitized so that you know exactly how much food you need in order to be satisfied.

    • The yo-yo cycle only reinforces a negative feedback loop rather than a lifestyle adaptation based on understanding the thoughts and feelings driving the behavior.

  • #3 “Enjoy food to the hilt!”

    • You can’t live in fear of delicious food. Rather, learn how to consciously eat the food while fully present.

    • Engage all your senses and celebrate the experience.

    • Often we are so distracted at meals that we’re not even registering the flavor or other sensory pleasures.

    • Once you locate that joy and mindfulness, it becomes a way of living your life, being good in your body and at peace being you (rather than beating yourself up for falling short).

  • #4 “Moderation, small helpings and a sample of a little bit of everything is the secret to happiness and good health.”

    • Isn’t it a relief to think of enjoying food as part of a successful weight loss program?

    • Check in with yourself: Have you ever been free to celebrate and be present with foods that you love?

    • The secret to enjoying everything is practicing moderation in all things. What if you could have a little of everything you love and feel empowered, rather than deprived? Or have fun experiencing new flavors?

    • More is not always better. It may appear so on the surface, but that’s not really true. More often leaves you feeling worse, not better.

    • Subscribe to and practice the skills associated with having just some, enjoying what you have and knowing organically when enough is enough.

  • #5 “Don’t be too serious.”

    • One of the most important requirements for learning to cook is learning how to eat.

    • Julia never apologized for her cooking – even when things went wrong. She simply assumed that things were unfolding as they should. Molly has taken this to heart. She no longer feels she has to be perfect or apologetic.

    • Self-reproach and judgment take us out of the moment and sour precious moments in life. Part of the work of untangling food issues is decoupling from a primitive brain that is looking for danger, disappointment, fear.

    • Learning how to enjoy food – with self-compassion and acceptance – is a critical piece of creating a sustainable, enjoyable and satisfying way to eat.

    • Coming to terms with food means coming to terms with yourself, connecting with your senses and opening space for identifying what it is that you truly like and that truly nourishes you.

    • Discovering what satisfies you may require some experimentation. If you’ve not typically cooked with whole ingredients, be open. There are no wrong answers. Play with simple recipes and be willing to ask yourself: What tastes good? What do I like?

Key Quotes

  • “I grew up watching early cooking shows and her show, “The French Chef,” was one of my favorites. One of the things that was so wonderful was that she brought what seemed like complex recipes to an American audience in a way that was very uncomplicated and unpretentious.”

  • “I don’t believe in eliminating any food permanently. I don’t believe in feeling restricted or deprived or giving up a love of food. In fact, it’s the opposite.”

  • “I don’t think you need to make food boring in order to lose weight. I don’t think that’s realistic.”

  • “In order for weight loss to be something you can do for the rest of your life, in order to be able to maintain your ideal size, you need to be able to enjoy the foods that you’re eating.”

  • “If this isn’t something you can do for the rest of your life, it isn’t going to work.”

  • “Oftentimes we approach weight loss as a quick fix, thinking ‘Well, I just need to lose the weight and then I can go back to eating all the food I love.’ And we know what happens when we do that. It just continues the cycle of losing and regaining the weight because you’re not identifying the root reasons why you’re overeating in the first place – the heart of the issue.”

  • “Overindulging in food is not truly enjoyable. You end up feeling terrible the next day. Your body feels uncomfortable and you have to deal with all the shame.”

  • “Think about your journey and the obstacles that are preventing you from putting yourself out there, being willing to try, being willing to figure out your next step towards your weight loss goal.”

  • “You can teach yourself to appreciate clean, pure flavors by sitting down and being fully present to the process of eating.”

  • “Think about weight loss as a joyful process of self-care. Think of it as a way to enjoy nourishing your body and consuming food in an appropriate amount that really allows you to feel satisfied.”

Links & Resources

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