As promised in my blog post Introduction – Artful Eating by Karina Melvin, here is an overview of the Starter section of the ‘Artful Eating’ self-help book by Karina Melvin. This is quite a long post, but I want to do the book justice and also give my views/experiences.
Each chapter is laced with actions and information or knowledge as represented below.
The Starter aims to help us become informed and lay a foundation for success. ‘Knowledge is power’, it is time to get informed about your behaviour, habits and unconscious motivations.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Action: In a survey of 3,000 British women it was found that they will, on average, spend £25,000 on weight loss over their lifetime. With this in mind, Karina encourages you to consider all the money that you have spent on weight loss along with all the time and energy you have spent to date on trying to lose weight.
For all of the exercises that Karina sets she encourages you to write down the answers in a journal, rather than simply listing them in your head. As predicted by Karina, the amount of money I have spent on weight loss over the last couple of years alone is staggering, especially as I’ve not lost any weight!!
Knowledge: psychologists classify eaters into two groups:
- Intuitive eaters: listen to their body and eat when they are hungry. Less likely to be overweight, spend less time thinking about food because they eat when they are actually hungry.
- Controlled eaters – try to control their eating through willpower. Vulnerable to overeating as they override their bodies’ hunger signals. A small indulgence is more likely to lead to a ‘binge’.
You can make a shift from being a controlled eater to an intuitive eater by learning to understand your body’s signals so that you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.
I can very much relate to this, I don’t believe I’ve been in tune with my hunger signals since I was a child. The following statement really struck a chord with me “How much is your weight issue due to eating because you feel hungry and how much is due to eating when you are not hungry?”.
MIND AND BODY AWARENESS
Knowledge: To successfully lose weight it is essential to understand that it is not so much about what you eat as about why you eat.
Action #1: Why do you want to lose weight? – Rank a (long) list of common reasons people want to lose weight, such as ‘I will look better’, ‘I will feel healthier’, ‘I will be more attractive to others’, ‘I will live longer’, etc., etc.
Action #2: Reflections – What has stopped you losing weight in the past? When do you think you’re most likely to overeat? Do you eat for emotional reasons?
Action #3: Discovery week – keep and analyse a food diary for 1 week to identify food pitfalls, time pitfalls (i.e. night time nibbling), reliance on processed foods, mindless eating, money spend on food
Taking the time to complete these exercises was very useful, instead of rushing headlong into a diet like I usually do. I was able to see how much I feel I want to lose weight (Action #1) compared to how much weight I actually lose, probably because I need to address my emotional eating first (Action #2 & #3).
Knowledge: Most diets are structured around deprivation, relying on controlled eating, a position of self-punishment to which we eventually concede defeat. We are fighting against the brain’s natural disposition to seek out pleasure and avoid pain, relying on self-control.
People who successfully lose weight and keep it off don’t see themselves as being on a diet, they see it as a positive lifestyle change. Psychological research has proved that to successfully lose weigh and keep it off, a personalised approach works best, along with the right support, advice and strategies.
Action #1: Visualisation – When we visualise an action and when we actually perform that action, the same regions of the brain are stimulated. The free Visualisation audio, that can be downloaded from the Artful Eating website, helps with this exercise in a lovely relaxing way. However, I do struggle with thinking of the world in pictures, which is why I don’t think I’ve found hypnotherapy that helpful for me in the past, hopefully I will have more success this time.
Action #2: Set your goal – be specific, pick a goal that feels realistic to you. I have been ambitious with my goal, however it is one that I’ve achieved before and I have a photo of myself at this lovely weight to try to motivate me.
Action #3: Conditioning – condition your environment so that you’re constantly being reminded of your goal. My favourite tip was to set the password on your phone to that of your goal weight, genius! I know that I could plaster the house with photos of the skinny me or set it as my screensaver but I think it opens me up to questions I would prefer not to answer.
Knowledge: everything you’ve put into your mouth, every unhelpful and unhealthy habit has come from a decision. If you decide to you can have the body you want, you have set your goal; now decide to achieve it. If you don’t make a decision about how you’re going to be, then you have already made a decision to continue as you have been.
Please do not think you know it all when it comes to losing weight. Let go of all of your preconceived ideas about how to lose weight. If you don’t overcome and let go of the old beliefs, patterns and myths, you will continue to perpetuate the misguided behaviour that has led to your struggle with weight.
Again, this was an eye opener, if asked I would say that I was an expert on dieting and weight loss and yet where has it got me? Time to embrace some new ideas I think.
THE 48-HOUR KICK-STARTER CHALLENGE
Knowledge: To kick-start the Artful Eating process you need to lessen your appetite. Eating less won’t shrink your stomach, but it will help to reset your appetite so you won’t feel as hungry. The 48-hour Kick-starter lets you understand that you are committed to weight loss and to lasting change. It is a liquid based combination of vegetable juice and soup designed to make you feel great and mentally ready to completely change your relationship with and attitude to food.
At first reading I wasn’t very comfortable with this suggestion, as Karina herself alludes to it sounded ‘more like the initial stages of a traditional diet’ than a new approach and this concerned me. I am also unable to follow the suggestion at the moment due to a very heavy schedule for the next two weeks. However, the further I get into the book and the more I follow Karina’s advice I now feel happy to try this stage of the ‘plan’ in two weeks time.
FOOD AND HOME REBOOT
Knowledge: The most important ingredient of experiencing freedom with food is recognising that food is delicious fuel, nourishing our body and our brain. The only elimination encouraged is the elimination of guilt!
Whilst there is no need to prohibit or curtail any major food group, it’s time to seriously assess what we are eating and how it’s affecting our size and health. When your digestive system can’t identify a food substance, it isn’t broken down, so instead it is stored as fat, in an effort to keep it away from your vital organs. Highly processed foods have little or no nutritional value and, ultimately, make you fat.
Action #1: Detox your kitchen – declutter your kitchen and your home, a symbolic act that reflects the transformation your mind and body will experience as you embark on reprogramming to the Artful Eating way of life. I like the sentiment but must confess that at the moment I am too busy to take the time to do this. However, I keep my kitchen and the cupboards pretty organised and don’t have too many processed foods so I don’t think I’ll suffer too much for this.
Action #2: Declutter your bedroom and wardrobe – if you have a messy, disorganised dressing space filled with things that don’t fit, or just ‘comfy clothes’ you are sending a powerful message to yourself, reinforcing a lack of self-respect. Take pride in your appearance, as if will help you feel more confident and motivated. Luckily I sorted my wardrobe and took a whole heap of stuff to the charity shop just a few weeks ago, however, I probably am a bit too fond of my comfy trousers!
As you can see from my little synopsis the first section of the book is packed full of exercises and concepts for me to get my head round. I will report on the next section of the book in the days to come.
Wish me luck!