I have a Master Practitioner Certificate in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). One of the concepts in NLP is the idea of “strategies.” A strategy is a series of actions performed in a specific order to achieve a specific result. People have strategies for everything, but mostly don’t think about them or know what they are. They just do them automatically as they go about their days.
Some strategies are simple and all about physical actions, like your morning routine for getting showered and dressed, which is probably usually the same things in roughly the same order. Other strategies involve a lot of thinking.
We have strategies for just about everything in our lives, from our morning routine to our way of dealing with problematic people at the office. We tend to run these little scripts without thinking about them. Some of our strategies work well, and some do not. If you have an area of life where something is not working, it might do you well to consider your strategy, and how you might change it.
That brings us to eating strategies. First, let’s take some time to consider some really horrible eating strategies. If you are an obese person, or know an obese person well, see if you can pick out the strategy they use for eating from the below list:
The “Seefood” Stategy:
- See food.
- Eat food.
The “Sadfood” Strategy:
- Feel sad.
- Think, “some food sure would make me feel better.”
- Locate whatever comfort food is around.
- Eat it.
The “Think Of The Starving Children in Africa” Strategy (this one is usually parent’s fault, thus the name):
- Get hungry.
- Prepare or order some food.
- Eat it, all of it, regardless of hunger level.
The “Yum” Strategy:
- Get hungry.
- Prepare or order something that makes you say, “YUM!”
- Keep eating until the bloated feeling exceeds the yum feeling.
The “Bulimia” Strategy:
- Get hungry.
- Eat as much as you like, maybe more than is reasonable.
- Look at self in mirror, or imagine self.
- Feel disgust with self.
- Enter bathroom.
- Gag self and vomit.
By all means, this is not a complete list of bad eating strategies. There are many more eating strategies that fail horribly. Some will have the eater weighing hundreds of pounds, and others will have the person looking like a skeleton covered with skin.
What about those people who seem to eat what they want without really paying much attention, but never get too fat or too thin? Most of us have probably wondered that at one time or another. If you ask one of those people how they do it, you’ll likely receive a response to the effect of: “I don’t really know, I’ve never done anything special. I get a normal amount of physical activity, I suppose. No more than most of my friends. And I just eat what I want, but never gain weight.” When we hear this, it doesn’t help a bit. We want the goods. We want to know; how did they do it? The answer rarely gives us anything to go on.
Lucky you. I am going to tell you what they couldn’t. I’m going to hand you their strategy on a silver platter. Now all you have to do is use this strategy consciously every time you feel hungry for 90 days. Be religious about it. Every time you feel hunger, follow along. Make a note to yourself and carry it around with you, if that is what you need. Once installed into your brain, this strategy will function on automatic just like any other, but you need to over-write the bad program that’s in your head right now. So memorize or write down this strategy, and use it consciously until it becomes unconscious.
The Naturally Slender Eating Strategy
- Check your internal organs for the physical sensations of hunger, paying attention to whether you are truly hungry, or just thirsty. Thirst is frequently mistaken for hunger. If the answer is thirst, go to step 2 and then wait until you feel hungry again before repeating any of the strategy. If the answer is hunger, skip to step 3.
- Drink eight to sixteen ounces of water.
- Ask yourself “What do I want to eat right now that will satisfy my hunger and allow me to feel healthy and energized 30 minutes from now?” The “30 minutes from now” part is critical to this. What you eat now does not have its final effect in your system for about 30 minutes. So imagine the future, not the present.
- Imagine food choices that are available to you and satisfy the requirements of the above question:
- you want it
- it will satisfy the hunger
- it will leave you feeling healthy and energized 30 minutes from now
- Check with the physical sensations of your stomach when you’ve thought of a food that meets the criteria. Ask your stomach, “Is this what you want?” and wait for the stomach’s response. If the imagined food does not meet the criteria, or the physical sensations give a “no” response, then repeat steps 3 and 4 until you get a “yes.” If the imagined food meets the criteria and the physical sensations give a “yes” response, then move on to the next step of the strategy.
- Send yourself a positive feeling of “yes, that’s right.”
- Say to yourself, “let’s eat.”
- Get or prepare the food and eat it.
- While eating, listen to your gut for the signal, “I’ll be full in 30 minutes.” Again, you’re looking for the signal from you stomach, and you’re looking for a future prediction rather than a present status. Don’t worry, your stomach knows the answer. Once you get used to “hearing” this signal from your stomach, it becomes unmistakable. It just takes practice.
- When you receive this signal, wait for about five minutes, and have a few sips of water. Repeat Step 9. If you get the same result, “I’m satisfied in 30 minutes,” then move on to Step 11. If you get the result, “not done yet,” keep eating and go back to Step 9. Note: The reason for step 10 (this is my own step, and not part of the original strategy as written in NLP), is because sometimes the gut will send a false signal when filled with gas. The five minute wait gives time for the gas to move out, if there is any. In plainer words – you will probably get the same result unless you burp or fart.
- Stop eating. If there is food left over, either save it for later or throw it away. Do not eat it.
The “naturally slender” people you know just do this on automatic without thinking about it. If you asked them about these steps, they’d probably look at you funny, and say, “what are you talking about?” They don’t even know they are doing it. But most of them are. This strategy was discovered by NLP researchers who pried it out of naturally slender people one step at a time until they figured out what was going on internally.
For those of us without this program pre-installed as part of our operating systems, it has to be manually installed.The good news is that now you know, and now you can do a manual self-install of this program. It will take time and practice, and the more rigorous you are with it, the faster it will become an automatic program.
My Own Weight Story
When I was a teenager, I was always a few pounds heavier than I might have been. My eating strategy was probably not that great, and had a bit to do with the “finish” strategy and a bit to do with “emotional” strategies. I was always a few pounds over, but not that out of shape.
In college, I gained a lot. By the end of my four years I was hovering in the 160-170 range. After a couple of years working, it was back down in the 150-160 range again. When I reached my 30’s my metabolism seemed to shift into a lower gear, and I started to gain weight slowly, but steadily.
By 2006, I was hovering in the area of 175-185 lbs on any given day. In High School my waist was 30″, but by my mid thirties, I was buying pants with a 36″ or 38″ waist. I was ashamed of my fat, but lazy about exercise, and still on my bad eating strategy.
Now I’m 135-145 lbs on any given day. I’m 5’6″, if you’re thinking, “that’s way too thin.” Also, the 135-145 is the same weight range I had back when I had that crazy metabolism of a 17-21 year old boy; eating anything I wanted and staying the same weight. Now I’m more or less the same weight as then, and my body looks more like it did back then.
I just reminded myself consciously of the naturally slender eating strategy, and intentionally looked at each meal in this light for a while. The more I consciously focused on it, the easier it became to get back to my ideal weight, and to eating the right amount of food for me.
When I’m out and eating a meal, and I get to a point where my guts are sending those first signals of “good,” I stop eating. I’ve learned when my stomach gives the signal for “this is enough to leave me feeling energized in 30 minutes.” It doesn’t matter what’s left on my plate or how good it tastes, I stop eating when I get the signal. And if I’m putting the food on the plate, I usually put down exactly what I need for 30 minutes from now, and no more, because I now know from having practiced this so long what amount my body needs.
NOTE: Most meals at restaurants are 50% to 200% more food than required for me to eat in a single sitting. This will be true for most people, unless you are a very physically active person, such as an athlete or construction worker. American restaurants over-serve everyone. The portions are twice to four times the calories you need. You will likely discover this for yourself, if you use this same strategy. Just remember: doggy bags are your friend. On the monetary savings front: you can make two meals out of most restaurant experiences!
I’m not going to tell you I was exercise free during my weight loss, because I wasn’t. But I didn’t work out in a gym. I just like gardening. I lift pots and bags of soil and that kind of stuff. I shovel and rake. It is not a ton of exercise, but apparently enough.
And I’m not going to tell you that this little strategy was the only thing that helped, because it wasn’t. I also worked on becoming more accepting of myself (both flaws and assets), clearing out some old emotional energy, etc. I did emotional and psychological work on myself. Anger is an emotion that helps trap the fat in the body. Letting go of anger was another important step in my weight loss story.
The most important step, however, was the installation of this Naturally Slender Eating Strategy. It really works. And now it is an automatic response for me. I don’t even think about it. At some point I just get full, and stop eating. When I get hungry, pictures immediately appear in my mind. I don’t have to force any of it.
Before, I was an emotional and guilt-ridden eater who was gaining weight slowly but surely.
Today, I am one of those Naturally Slender people that everyone envies.
Now you know how you can be too.