When you've Got to Go.

- POSTED ON: Jan 27, 2012


For several years, I have been corresponding with a person
who remains mired in obesity primarily due to her inability
to resist the allure of Intuitive Eating.

In her defense of her current Intuitive Eating Program,
she recently said:

"There's some sort of saying I've heard
about how thoughts affect feelings which affect behavior,
and this hypnosis program tries to change thoughts and feelings".

I believe that positive thoughts can change our feelings (emotions)
and therefore result in a change in our behavior.

However this is a psychological process.
Hunger involves a physiological process.

We use the word "feelings" for two different sensations.

feelings can be emotions = psychology
feelings can be body sensations ….. hunger = physiology

This is the basic flaw in the theories of Intuitive Eating.

When I experience the strong feelings that tell me I need to urinate,
I can think positive thoughts, and this can make me feel better emotionally,
however, these thoughts will not change my body's physical sensations
which are associated with the physiological process of urination,
and…ultimately …. my body will follow through with the specific behavior
that my body feels is needed.

Urination is an physical process, over which we have learned
to achieve a measured amount of control,
and when we receive the signals from our body,
we don't have to give in immediately, and
we can choose to temporarily delay the process of elimination.
If we do not choose to delay…we will commit a socially unacceptable act.
and, eventually …no matter what we are thinking… the body will do what it does.

Hunger is also a physical process, over which we have learned
to achieve a measured amount of control.
and when we receive the signals from our body,
we don't have to give in immediately, and
we can consciously choose to delay the process of eating,
and we can consciously choose what foods to use to satisfy that immediate hunger.

However, if an obese, or reduced obese, person eats only in response
to the signals of their body (feelings of hunger)
they will remain fat…
(which some consider a socially unacceptable act)

Because the body has it's own agenda,
It will do everything it can to protect its fat stores.
An obese person's body isn't going to naturally try to become normal weight,
the obese person's body sees it's job is to keep its fat.

All of the positive thinking in the world
will never change the natural inner workings of the body.

We can't fly.
We must urinate.
Hunger signals from an obese, or reduced obese, body
come from the body's perceived need to protect fat stores,
and despite positive thinking .. no matter what our emotions tell us…
Once we have become Obese,..or reduced obese..
our bodies will signal us to eat in a way that will make and keep us fat.

In order to become normal weight, and stay normal weight,
we … who are obese or formerly obese...
will ALWAYS have to over-ride our body's "natural" signals,
and use the CONSCIOUS PROCESS of choosing to eat
the types and amounts of food that will keep our body normal weight.

Intuitive eating is a lovely fairy tale.
But Prince Charming is never coming with a glass slipper,
and an obese person will never become normal weight by listening to their body.

Leave me a comment.

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Existing Comments:

On Jan 27, 2012 wrote:
I don't think it is quite analogous to having to urinate because people don't usually misread other kinds of signals as the need to urinate, but they often read many sensations as "hunger." Complicating it is the fact that some people don't register normal hunger and satiety signals. However, I don't feel that my body is trying all the time to return to my heaviest weight. I am not plagued by hunger all the time, though I used to weigh a good 35 pounds more and was in the obese range for a few years. (But I've been at least overweight for nearly 40 years and mortified about it for about 35 of those years.) I'm not even plagued by constant urges to eat when I'm not hungry, though I do have those sometimes; they used to be prevalent throughout my day. I wouldn't call their frequency or intensity bad at all. I don't even get very annoyed at them much any more. These days I find it a little annoying sometimes, but compared to the burdens I could be carrying, they seem minor now. But I did spend a few years trying the Intuitive Eating thing and it was very difficult. It still put so much attention on my body and eating! And I still had to learn how to tolerate the sensations of fake hunger. I had absolutely no willingness to put up with much discomfort for many of those years and felt incredibly sorry for myself that I was so overwhelmed by food. Sometimes I eat a lot, enough to make me uncomfortable, but I don't hate myself for it now. I guess I believe it won't overtake me since I've passed the 2-year mark, though I am aware that danger is there for another few years at least, so I cognizant of not thinking it's okay to just go with what I "feel" like. I'm aware that going overboard can stimulate the old urges and they can be very convincing. I'm more savvy now. And I hope I'm not fooling myself. But I'm also not attached to being much thinner than I am now. Don't think I wouldn't like to be a lot skinnier, but I am not willing to change much for it. I believe I eat VERY reasonably at least 5.5 days a week, and I am not willing to ask for more than that now. It's not that it's hard because it actually isn't. But it feels like it would stir up a lot of bad habits to push it. I also think for fairness' sake it would be better to say that MOST obese people will never become normal weight by listening to their bodies. Because I like allowing for the possibility of grace. However, these days, I just bow down and feel grateful when it happens, rather than expecting it. Just like fairies, you can't order grace around. But that doesn't mean fairies can't alight sometimes.

On Jan 27, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Hi, oolala, My judgments on Intuitive Eating are limited to those who are Obese or Reduced Obese, and even though you think of yourself as having an Obese history, you don't actually fall into the category of which I am speaking. I've read your testimonial, so I know that you are 5'6" and you started No So diet at 185 lbs. At that time you had a BMI of 29.9, and obesity STARTS at 30, so at that time you were not obese, and if you were ever 10 lbs higher than that weight, you would still have been at the very bottom of the obesity range. Perhaps I should be more precise, but when I say "obese", I am referring to someone who is truly FAT, someone who is well past just 10 lbs inside the border of the obesity range. Now, at 161 lbs, your BMI is 26 ... which is just inside the overweight range (since 25 is the border of normal. However, you are so close to the edge of normal, that it would be difficult to even call you overweight. It doesn't seem to me like there is any reason for you to worry about attempting to lose more weight. You've never been really fat, and now, you're not even really overweight, so it seems unlikely that your body chemistry was altered by a condition of obesity. This statement is not made to disrespect your dieting efforts, which are praiseworthy, it it simply to indicate that you probably were never fat enough to trigger the body changes of which I'm speaking. As an example of the type of obesity that adds many many permanent fat cells, at my highest weight, my BMI was 52.9. I was morbidly obese. Currently I am maintaining a BMI of between 22.5 and 23.4 which is inside the normal BMI range. Now, I am a reduced obese person.

On Jan 28, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
I certainly don't deny any of that. There is some overlap in experience for people who overeat, but obviously some bodies can continue to either desire food or tolerate larger amounts of it beyond the caloric need of normal or even average. I just don't believe that every person is capable of weighing 350 lbs. and up, no matter what the environment is. It's got to be an aberration of the system that must be dealt with from many angles. However, I also think people hear a lot about what is "supposed" to happen when they reduce food and they stop really looking at their own experience, convinced that, for example, a trigger food will make it impossible for them to eat a moderate amount or that they really believe they must eat every few hours to stave off ravenous hunger or even that they have to overeat when they're very hungry. I'm sure all of these pose even more of a challenge to bodies used to a lot of food, but I also think that most of them could adapt to less food-- possibly not little enough to be as slim as you like to be, Phyllis-- without their feeling that they were in a state of semi-starvation most of the time. And I also guess that for many of them, their weight would not constitute as high a health risk even in the overweight and obese ranges.

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