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What Does "Food" Mean?


If you factor genetics out of the equation -- you can't change your age, genes or sex -- most people are overweight because they eat too much and exercise too little. 

Of course, someone with a will of steel can easily fix both conditions. Then there's the rest of us. 

In eight years of working with people who have difficulty controlling what they put in their mouths (and 47 years watching me not control what goes into or comes out of mine!), I've noticed that there's more to eating than cell nourishment. Food taps into our deep seated feelings about ourselves; power, self-esteem, fear, even punishment often spice up the servings we swallow. 

I realized this after I had an epiphany about my feelings toward food. Suddenly, without any other change but understanding, I had my chocolate cravings under control. 

What tipped me off was my father's comments that as a newborn, I refused to eat when my mother tried to feed me. (Since that was the early 1950s, feeding me was not in his job description.) 

My mother and I have never gotten along from Day 1. Although we argued about everything, the main clash was food. Today, that is still our major battle field. She's constantly on my case about my weight, even though she knows I'm struggling with menopause, looking exactly like she did at my age. But that doesn't stop her from promising me she'll buy me a new wardrobe -- Prada! Prada! -- if I drop three dress sizes. Right! 

This Christmas I realized that food was just a symbol for the real issue: who determined my future. My mother and I have always disagreed about what's best for me. It makes perfect sense that our battles would crystallize about food since my mother is a well known local gourmet. That was her turf so that's where she wanted to wage war. 

Even though I have always agreed with her that I should be thinner, I realized that deep down inside, I didn't want her to win. Until this Christmas, showing her I was boss was more important than losing weight. So I ate the wrong foods for the wrong reasons. 

Once I understood the problem, I decided to stop fighting with her. We yelled and screamed and finally agreed to disagree. But the air between us was clear for the first time in half a century. 

Suddenly, eating correctly was soooo easy. I knew I was cured after spending four days in Las Vegas last week. My trip package included all meals at the ubiquitous buffets. And I only had dessert once in those four days -- the vaunted Meltdown cheat day. 

So, my eating problem had nothing to do with food. And I'll bet yours doesn't either. Once I resolved the bad blood, eating right and working out became second nature. 

I maintain if you've had trouble staying with an eating plan or getting motivated to exercise, there's some underlying emotional event that's controlling your behavior. The key to losing weight is figuring it out! 

Here's how I did that. 

Our personality is made up of parts. So, have a parts party. My book, The Meltdown Diet and Cookbook: Learn How To Burn Fat 24 Hours A Day, Even While You Sleep, describes a parts party in great depth. Here is the Cliff's notes version: 

Get in a comfortable, quiet place and close your eyes. Calm down. Slow your breathing. 

First, thank all your parts for doing a wonderful job. (because they are!) 

Now, talk directly to your Food part. Ask her/him how it's going. Ask how s/he has been treated. Then, ask for suggestions to improve the situation. Listen closely because this part will tell you -- in child like terms -- what the problem is. 

Finally, thank the part for the information. 

Now, ask your Creative part for ideas on how to fix the problem. Typically, the Food part will chime in, too. 

Thank everyone for their good ideas. Then, go eat a meal and see what happens! 

P.S. You can substitute the word "money" for "food." 

Scary food fact: According to Tufts University, only 50% of U.S. medical schools offer nutrition ELECTIVES to their students. Only 25% REQUIRE course work in nutrition. 

Comment from BE: Don't ask me to perform surgery, but don't ask them for nutritional advice. The biases in their training make most MDs clueless when it comes to nutrition.  


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