Friday, September 25, 2009
Are You Still in the Feast or Famine Cycle?
Lately, I have been doing a great deal of research. I've been compiling information about the body's survival response and the way this can trigger a biological reaction to hoard fat stores. There are so many intricate layers involved that can trigger our bodies to want to hold onto fat, but if we dig deep and get to the root of the matter, at the core is one common element in every scenario... the feast or famine cycle. If we are in a feast or famine cycle our body will adapt, storing fat during the feasting phase to prepare for the hardship of the famine. It is impossible to release excess fat when you are locked in this cycle. Quite simply, you can't out-wit Mother Nature.
Oh... you can try. You can mistakenly believe that you are more clever. You can try to control what you eat. You can try to be 'healthy', but all the while, you will be activating your body's adaptation response. In fact, I will boldly state that any weight lost through trying is sure to be found. It will be a flash in the pan success. Most likely, any weight released was not fat, but precious metabolically active muscle tissue or water weight. It bears repeating that we are genetically designed to preserve fat stores. Your body's job is to survive. A lot of unnecessary blame gets pinned on the body, but it is sorely misplaced. Our bodies are doing exactly what they are supposed to do. They are merely responding to the stimulus we give them. It is our responsibility to create a safe environment where our bodies can feel secure enough to let those fat stores go. If we find ourselves locked in a holding pattern, remaining plateaued, in some way we are creating a threatening atmosphere where our bodies are quite literally fighting for survival. The threat may be self-imposed, but your body can't discern this.
Likewise, if you are a scale watcher who is proudly beaming that you dropped 15 lbs. in the last month, you are also creating a threatening environment for your body. You are currently in the famine cycle, albeit unconsciously, and sooner or later that pendulum will swing and you will find yourself immersed in a feasting phase. The biological drive to eat will be so overwhelming that you will not be able to control it. Your appetite will become a runaway train as all the weight you lost, plus some more for added insurance, finds its way back onto your frame. Don't feel hateful toward your body when this happens. It is not your body's fault. It is only reacting the way nature designed it to respond.
Here at, "The Big Fat Lie", we do not focus on the weight. In fact, we are firm believers in taking a sledgehammer to your scale. Our starting stats were presented in an effort to have our intuitive eating project be comparable to other obesity studies that have been conducted, thereby ensuring the legitimacy of the work we will be doing here. In fact, you will not see the posting of anymore stats until the close of this project in August 2011. However, for the sake of discussion it's important to note that it is impossible to release more than 2 lbs. of fat a week, no matter how much you exercise or what you choose to eat or not eat. This is a scientific fact. If you are releasing more weight than this, you are harming your body and it will backfire.
Most of you are probably thinking right about now, "Well, this doesn't apply to me. I'm an intuitive eater. I eat when I am hungry. I have freedom to eat whatever I like. I don't diet anymore. How could I be trapped in a feast or famine cycle?" The answer is quite simply, very easily. I will be covering this information more in-depth over the coming weeks, but will hint that the feast or famine cycle can be activated by eating around your body size and having a generalized fear of eating. The body's adaptation response can also be triggered by something as simple as stress, or bodily needs going unfulfilled. Again... there are many layers involved and we will cover all of them here in the weeks to come. For now, begin by answering the questions below to determine if you are still on the merry-go-round of the feast or famine cycle...
Let's Play 21 Questions... Are you stuck in the feast or famine cycle?
1. Do you experience hypoglycemia or symptoms of low blood sugar?
2. Do you find that you experience frequent ravenous hunger?
3. Do you crave lots of sweets, or fatty foods?
4. Are you a nighttime eater who often noshes in the evening without truly being physically hungry?
5. Do you find yourself overeating at special occasions such as birthdays, parties, holidays?
6. When you overeat, or eat particular foods, do you feel guilt?
7. Do you experience fear in relation to eating?
8. Do you feel you need some kind of structure around food to feel safe? For example, do you try to keep certain foods out of the house? Do you feel more at ease when you have eating guidelines in place?
9. Do you consume a high quantity of highly processed foods?
10. Are you worried about your weight or the size of your body? Do you body check yourself by frequently looking at your body in the mirror, weighing in, or taking your measurements? When in the presence of others, do you find yourself adjusting your body so you appear slimmer by sucking in your stomach, changing your body positioning, or holding your sweater or handbag in front of your tummy?
11. Are you like Old Mother Hubbard, often finding your cupboards bare?
12. Do you find that you never want breakfast and often don't reach for food until later in the day?
13. Do you frequently think about food? Do you find yourself mentally reviewing the food you ate for the day? Are you constantly thinking about the next meal?
14. Are you often impatient or irritable?
15. Do you exercise in an effort to slim down?
16. Do you feel that your body is working against you?
17. Do you lack trust in yourself and your decisions when it comes to eating experiences?
18. Do you have a high level of stress in your life?
19. Is your sleep suffering?
20. Do you contemplate going on one more diet, cleanse, or otherwise structured eating plan?
21. Do you feel safer in a larger body? Are you scared of what it would be like if you were fit and trim?
If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you are still in the feast or famine cycle. The more yes responses, the more deeply entrenched in the feast or famine cycle you are. I have come to realize that after three years as an intuitive eater, I am still in the feast or famine cycle. I have made a great deal of headway and have a lot of healing under my belt, but I have more self-recovery to do.
Beginning next week, I will be writing installments here at, "The Big Fat Lie". The approach I will be outlining will enable us to establish a high level of safety for our bodies, freeing us from the feast or famine cycle and subsequent adaptation response, so we can return to a state of balanced health. In the meantime, contemplate what it would feel like to let go completely. What if you released all guidelines, including the guidelines of intuitive eating, and simply ate? How would your eating look if you had no concern about the size of your body? Do you even know? Sit with these questions and see what it opens up in you. We will continue this discussion next week.