There’s a lot of things that irritate me about the book “Ten Habits of Naturally Slim People,” by Jill H. Podjasek. It’s too New Agey for my tastes and makes it sound like all naturally thin people have these enlightened perspectives on eating.
That wasn’t my experience when I did a series of interviews with the naturally thin people in my life. I mean, sure, some of them had this seemingly ingrained mindful perspective in terms of savoring good food, eating only when they’re hungry and so on. But what about Ian, who said he eats Pop Tarts for breakfast “mainly so I don’t have to think about it”? Or Nash, famous among his friends as the guy who never thinks about food, who told me he can’t stay away from an open bag of chips or pan of brownies and so therefore never brings those things into his house?
“Naturally thin” people are a pretty diverse group, it seems to me. The one thing they share is a disdain for being bogged down by too big a meal or excess weight, and so they were taught or have developed various mechanisms for keeping the extra pounds at bay – some of them more worthy of imitation than others.
Such quibbling aside, however, Podjasek’s book serves as a pretty good pep talk for mindful eating. Given my recent efforts to learn to “just put down that spoon” when something I’m eating doesn’t taste as good as I expected, I was especially drawn to her insights on what she terms “Maybe the next bite will be better” syndrome.
She writes that she first noticed it in her own behavior after ordering a special dessert – bread pudding with a caramel sauce – at one of her favorite restaurants.
Though the first bite was disappointing, not what she’d remembered and been looking forward to at all, she took another bite, then another, “somehow thinking if I kept eating it would eventually fulfill my expectations. There I was, 15 minutes and 400 calories later, still wanting a good dish of bread pudding.”
I know exactly what she means. I think it has something to do with an unwavering faith in the power of food to solve all problems, no matter what the source. On some level, it’s like I refuse to believe that food could ever let me down.
What Podjasek took away from her experience was that if she learned to value her first impressions and pay more attention to what she really wants, she could simply reject the subpar treat and hold out for something truly satisfying. In the process, she was less prone to binges and cravings because she gave herself permission to satisfy her desires and listen to her body, so it didn’t get all panicky around desserts.
“Mostly, I needed to realize that I enjoy good bread pudding and don’t need to wait until once every six months to get some,” she wrote. “Maybe then the disappointment over a single dessert would not have been so monumental that I felt driven to finish it with little satisfaction.”
There’s plenty of material worth reading in the book, and you can find it on Amazon these days for just a couple of bucks. Just skip over the “Psych-K” or “whole brain posture” mumbo-jumbo if it doesn’t work for you.