Take back the pleasure of eating

“At the age of sixteen, having turned into a girl with appetizing forms, I began to try different diets,” says Evgenia, 26, HR manager. – Despite the suffering, the results were minimal: it took two or three kilograms, quickly returning. On a diet, I controlled everything that went into my mouth. But then she swept away everything, unable to stop.

After another crisis, I realized that the problem was somewhere in my head. I considered myself not smart enough, dressed and behaved in such a way as to “merge with the landscape” as much as possible, spent my free time surfing the Internet and eating cookies pack after pack … Where did I get the idea that being slim will solve all my problems?

I went to a psychoanalyst to learn to love myself since I can’t lose weight. But in the analysis process, it became clear to me that being overweight is a way of protecting me from the outside world and only a consequence of my real problem – unconscious guilt for not being born a boy, as my father wanted.

When I managed to free myself from this feeling, forgive myself and my father, I felt happy. An engaging personality, an attractive woman. I wanted to dress. Differently, I began to behave. Differently, men began to pay attention to me, and my personal life changed for the better. They even raised me at work, noting my activity.

I began to enjoy myself and life. Imperceptibly, during two months of therapy, I lost eight kilograms … Now, I do not deny myself anything. I can eat both fried potatoes and chocolate if I want to. No remorse and no harm to the figure. I eat off the clock, as before, but when I feel hungry. And I stop when I realize that I’m full. ”

The foundations of our eating behaviour are formed from the first days of life.
“I thought I had recovered from childbirth,” recalls 30-year-old Venus. – But time passed, and I continued to gain weight: I emptied the refrigerator and, it seems, ate continuously. I cried, felt unhappy and terribly guilty. And then, in group psychotherapy, it turned out that my hunger is not physiological but emotional in nature. I ate to stifle anxiety: I was afraid not to cope with the role of mother. ” Valeria, 44, lived for fifteen years on a diet-to-diet regimen. And today, she admits with bitterness that she cannot determine when I am hungry: “I eat to relax, when I’m nervous or don’t know what to do with myself… And the weekend has turned into a nightmare for me”.

“The foundations of our eating behaviour are formed from the first days of life,” recalls psychotherapist Viktor Makarov. – So, the crying of a baby is not always caused by hunger. If the mother is attentive to the baby, she will quickly determine whether it is time to feed him or just need to caress or change the diaper. So she teaches him to recognize the feeling of hunger and the joy of satiety that follows him. ”

However, even if the first months went well, everything can get upset later – if the child is consoled with candy instead of giving him time. “My grandmother always repeated that only those who are in the ‘clean plate society’ are allowed to eat,” recalls 47-year-old Vladimir. – I hated buckwheat porridge, but I had to finish it! ”

The psychotherapist sees an explanation for this in the past: “Revolution, wars, famine – many hardships fell on the lot of the older generation. Hence the attitude: to love is to feed. ”

Flour, fatty, sweet, salty – for many, these words have a negative connotation. There are incredibly many rules, and they contradict each other: do not eat after 18.00; there is often and little by little; eating more cereals and vegetables … Behind all the (voluntary) restrictions, you can hardly hear the signals of your own body.

“The prohibitions imposed on themselves by those who seek to eat “according to the rules” become a source of constant internal tension,” explains psychotherapist Valentina Berezina. – Which ultimately leads to eating disorders. It would be new good for all of us to remember that the rules of nutrition are designed for the average person, which in reality simply does not exist: each of us has our own food preferences that should be respected. ”

The intention to deprive oneself of the pleasure of a favourite dish causes discomfort, emptiness, a feeling of loss – as if something important was taken away from a person, which belongs to him by right. Avoiding a delicious steak for lunch is likely to make it difficult to resist a cake in the evening, which we wouldn’t even look at if we listened to our desires during the day.

“Change your favourite Kyiv cutlet with a vegetable side dish for an unloved fish steamed with a leaf of lettuce? Better to eat what you like with peace of mind!” – the psychotherapist advises.

It is essentially new for us to distinguish physiological hunger from emotional, Valentina Berezina emphasizes, and for this, she advises us to listen to ourselves. Rumbling or a feeling of emptiness in the stomach, weakness, or headache may indicate that it is time to replenish the body’s reserves. The desire to eat a particular food is also an important signal that the body lacks nutrients. So, if you want lemon and its taste, which is usually incredibly sour, seems balanced, you may not have enough vitamin C.

If we turn to food under the influence of external factors (for example, we strive to master the entire range of an all-inclusive hotel restaurant), we are told by the desire to eat to become good.

An important signal is the loss of the sharpness of the taste of a dish that seemed beautiful at the beginning of the meal. Nutritionist Katherine Kuréta-Vanoli from the Group Overweight Analysis (GROS) encourages her patients to come to terms with the sensations. The first step is to remember what hunger is. “I ask you to skip breakfast and wait for physiological signals such as rumbling in your stomach. Those who eat because they are afraid of feeling hungry are worried about it. Some find it difficult to recognize these signals. After all, the excitement can also “suck in the stomach.”

Recently, 38-year-old Olga tried a similar exercise: “Even at three o’clock in the afternoon, without swallowing a crumb in the morning, I could not determine whether I was hungry or not. It amazed me: for many years, and I was confident that I was eating right because I always made sure that my diet was balanced. But it turned out that I no longer understand what hunger is. And I eat all the time. ”

When we have learned to recognize hunger, the most challenging thing remains: to stop in time. “An important signal is the loss of flavour in a dish that seemed wonderful at the beginning of a meal,” says the nutritionist. – When pleasure subsides, it’s time to stop. Hunger may appear before the next meal, and a snack will be required. There is nothing wrong with that. We don’t get fat from what we eat when we are hungry. ”

Those who are bound by limitations lose their ability to taste. Therefore, Catherine Curette-Vanoli includes tasting sessions in her therapy. She invites the patient to bring any product and eat it, following a ritual whose purpose is to mobilize the senses.

Vision first: describe the colour, shape, packaging (research has shown that image plays a vital role in regulating hunger and satiety *). Then touch: what is the texture? Then the sense of smell: “Memories of smells can awaken emotions associated with childhood or loved ones and explain why we seek comfort in a bun or chocolate,” says the nutritionist.

Finally, taste: take a bite off, roll it in your mouth to feel all the nuances, and swallow it. “Patients report that taste has little to do with what they eat at home! But this is the same cheese or pate – they realize what they eat. And therefore, they satisfy their hunger before they eat everything to the end. ”

Engaging your senses means listening to your body’s signals and allowing yourself to enjoy your favourite foods. Let us remind ourselves that food intake is a biological need, which will not control. Otherwise, the food “settings” will “go astray” in the body. Enjoy your meal? The prospect is brighter than depriving yourself of everything.


Recommendations from experts from the Group Overweight Analysis (GROS). Before eating Please wait for the moment when we are hungry to start eating. Do not start the day to restrict yourself in food. While eating Do not force yourself to finish eating everything; stop when pleasure is gone. Focus entirely on food (no TV, no magazines, no computer).

Give yourself time to taste: examine the product, touch it, smell it, and then eat slowly. When you feel hungry between meals, be sure to sit down for a quiet snack. After meal Keep a diary and write down new everything that we ate and the feelings and emotions that we experienced. Do not blame yourself if you have overeaten. Remind ourselves that we can eat the next time we feel real hunger.

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