I was at the airport last week waiting to board my flight. There were three men sitting across from me on different sides. They were all eating. One ate a personal pizza from the box, the other had a burger in one hand and fries propped up on his roller bag, while he watched a movie on his phone. The third man had ear buds in and a large bag of combos. Every few minutes he held up the opened bag to his mouth and shook a portion of cheese filled pretzels down the hatch.
This was all normal. Nothing was out of place.
On my trip a friend asked me how to figure out what to eat in order to lose weight. I told her to try 8 ounces of vegetables, 4 ounces of protein and 2 ounces of fat at lunch and dinner, then see how she feels. If she still felt hungry, she could adjust the meals.
“So I have to weigh my food?” she asked, alarmed. “Yeah,” I said bluntly. “Or you can just keep doing what you are doing.”
Somewhere a siren sounded. Weighing food is not normal. What isacceptable is eating mindlessly out of a bag. Letting our kids watch us eat scraps off their plates after we already cleaned our own. Using food as entertainment while we watch TV and snacking between meals to keep hunger at bay.
What is normal is cooking a bounty of food for Thanksgiving, and also having a table of appetizers beforehand in case there is not already enough to eat at dinner. We do this to celebrate, to show love, and to relax ourselves around family and friends.
If somebody shows up to the feast and decides to pass on apple pie, people are concerned. Food will be pushed, and multiple offers will be made to encourage the person to eat. It is not normal to show up to a celebration and stand around empty-handed.
Why is that?
Why is it strange to show up to a holiday office party, and just enjoy the company without eating or drinking?
When I changed my mindset around food in order to lose weight, I realized the hardest part was not figuring out what to eat. Instead, it was living in a society that normalizes overeating and overdrinking as part of its culture.
Our bodies have a different standard. What is normal for our bodies is to feel hunger and be nourished by foods that fuel natural energy. What isnormal for our bodies is to digest a portion of food appropriate for our frame and allocate any nutrients to internal systems that keep us healthy.
When we overeat and overdrink it usually wreaks havoc. Our body sends us signals, “That’s enough.” Then it sends us stronger messages, “I feel sick.” But we override them. Because that’s what’s normal in a society of consumption, convenience and immediate access to a multitude of distractions.
In our society everyone knows it is acceptable to put on a few pounds between November and January. It is the time of year when it is considered most normal to overindulge.
What originated as a meal based on gratitude for an abundant harvest has spun into another excuse for many of us to perpetuate a cycle of mindless overeating.
Most of us throw the towel in over the holidays when it comes to weight loss.
But what if you did not even bring a towel to throw in?
What if, instead of excessive eating, you practiced self compassion? You cultivated abundance within by truly taking care of your emotional and physical needs, instead of drowning them out with food. You developed gratitude for things that create natural energy in your life, like good sleep, healthy nutrition, clean water, movement and fresh air. And you showed up to family gatherings not only as a person who honors himself, but a person full of love to pour out onto others.
They still might try and refill your wine, or beg you to try the chocolate tart, but you will no longer be looking for food to fill the void.