• If stress eating is your response to the news 🍪 🍫 🍩


    I have heard from you about how triggering the news in the US has been. How it's re-stimulated memories of abuse for some of you, and how you have been coping, or not coping. 

    And how coping / not coping may have involved some stress eating.

    SO. I have so much to say about all of this, but for today let's just talk about "stress eating." I've written before about St. Traci Mann, author of Secrets from the Eating Lab, whose experiments have shown that "comfort eating" doesn't actually comfort us.

    I go back and forth on this, though. Because it does and it doesn't. And when I go back and forth, I usually stop pacing somewhere in the middle of the situation.

    So I will advise this: Be kind to yourself, and let's be kind to each other. Those in power, it seems, have other plans. Therefore let us take charge of our experience in the basic, accessible ways we can.

    Here are some ways to do that around food:

    • Recognize that under extreme pressure, we may revert to old behaviors. During my Worst Year Ever, I actually slept with Clownie, my childhood crochet companion. I freely admit this! (Also you may have heard it first from Clownie, but whatever.) Don't beat yourself up about it. Self-administered beatings render us less powerful. And that's what They Want*. So DON'T PILE ON.
    • Recognize, too, that stress eating is not always the same as binge eating. Calling every damn thing a "binge" is kinda Piling On. Take it easy.
    • Get out ahead of this, and make sure you've got nourishing food that you actually like on hand. Don't get wedged in a corner with nothing to choose from but celery sticks, Rum Raisin and Fluff™. Because that would be PILING ON. They Might Want this, because industrial food = big profits.
    • If you feel an actual binge a-comin on, use the tools I've given you to calm your nervous system and then call a friend or email me. Don't hide out, because isolation so quickly spirals into shame which creates more isolation etc. and guess what? That's Where They Want you. Alone and paralysed. Easy pickins. Obviously, making it easy for them = PILING ON.
    • One of my favorite moves is to have a planned meal of things I find 1. wonderful treats and 2. genuinely comforting. For me, usually fancy cheese and fancy crackers. (This weekend in New York I got an Epoisses for SO CHEAP at the French Cheese Board, which exists just to promote French cheese. Prices reflect this!) When the meal's over, it's over. The next meal will have more fresh food and more protein, but since I can have cheese and crackers any old time, there's no Last Supper impulse. Because Last Supper eating is just Piling On and would only result in shame, and I don't need that. Neither do you.
    • If you cannot stop yourself piling on, GET HELP of an ongoing nature. Coaching, therapy, a group of friends that meet regularly. Books and emails are great. But there's so much momentum available when we do this work with each other.

    And speaking of doing this work with each other: Over the years, many of you have asked for accountability. Ongoing accountability of a nature that's more sustained than what we can do in a few weeks of coaching. So I am making that available. It will be affordable and accessible. And I will have details for you next week.

    * You know who "They" is for you. Might be the Inner Critic. Could be an External Critic. 

    Now then, a recipe adapted from 
    Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at LucquesIf I could only have one cookbook for the rest of my life, I wouldn't even have to think it over. Suzanne has been my desert island companion for over a decade.

    The first time Mr Jones and I made this recipe it took over three hours with two of us cooking. Now I can do it on my own in about one hour. That's with all of Suzanne's ingredients, which include many more than this simplified version below. Sometime, for a proper Sunday lunch, you should try hers.

    (The Busy Person's) Torchio with Cavolo Nero (serves 2, and is easily doubled or tripled or...)

    • 4 oz (dry) torchio-type pasta. I like Sfoglini trumpets, and also the torchio made by Rustichella d'Abruzzo. NB: I will often use leftover pasta for this dish. Makes a blindingly fast home-cooked meal.
    • 6-8 oz cavolo nero, aka black kale, lacinato kale, and Tuscan kale
    • olive oil
    • 1-2 anchovies
    • 1-2 cloves of sliced garlic
    • pinch of dried chile flakes
    • salt and pepper
    • Italian parsley

    1. Cook the pasta al dente and set aside.
    2. Strip the kale from its stems and microwave for a couple minutes until wilted. Squeeze the moisture out and chop it into pieces 3" or so.
    3. Heat a skillet and pour in some olive oil. Add the anchovies and emulsify them by stirring into the oil.
    3. Add garlic, chile, salt and pepper, kale and pasta to the pan, adding more olive oil if necessary.
    4. Cook until the kale is blackened in spots, and the fried pasta is crunchy in spots <- so good!
    5. Sprinkle with parsley.
    6. Optional: Suzanne dresses hers with breadcrumbs sautéed in olive oil, and a currant relish. If you have the time, these are very worthwhile adds.

  • What science knows about obesity

    But doctors ... don't?

    In case you haven't seen this piece in the Huffington Post titled Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong, you're going to want to check it out. (Thank you Jessa Crispin, host of the Public Intellectual podcast, for pointing me to this article.) 

    In short, it reminds of us two very important things that much of the medical profession ignores: That dieting causes weight gain in 98% (or more) of cases, and that "ideal" weight and health are not the same thing. Often, they don't even correlate.

    But what happens if you're visibly fat and you go to the doctor? As the article details,

    1.  Most of the time, the doctor tells you to diet.
    2.  In many cases, he or she may also chalk up whatever symptoms you have to obesity, and tell you to lose weight first. (See no. 1.) This can be true even when symptoms are caused by cancer or shingles or simply from the stress of being fat in a fat-hating society.

    So diet culture hasn't loosened its grip much on medicine, but there are alternatives to dietingif you want to change the way you eat and what you weigh, and resist dumb stuff, aka dieting, that's never going to work. I have a cheat sheet that's a great place to start

    I'll also have another workshop coming up, probably in January. We had a good time together demolishing our eating problems this past weekend, and you might want to get in on the next one.

    You can sign up here to get early notice - and a discount - when registration opens.

  • What I wish people knew about food, eating and having a body

    Today in my women's entrepreneur group someone asked: What are some interesting things you know because you do the particular thing you do, that you think would benefit the world if more people knew them?

    Here's my answer:

    I wish everyone knew that we are NOT born knowing what, when and how much to eat. All animals learn from their mother how to eat. 

    This wisdom - knowledge like bitter things are good for you, beans and rice are great together, the best blueberries are over there and cleanliness is important to making cheese - has been collected in human cultures for millennia. 

    Anglo-American culture has lost a lot of this wisdom. To regain it requires not that we go inward to regain some mythical infantile wisdom, but that we look at what cultures that are still sane about food do. Shortcut to this that I wish everyone knew: EAT MEALS. When the meal's over, stop eating. 

    And find all the ways to make meals nice, like eating with other people, instead of at your desk or on your way to the gym or over the sink. Don’t look for ways to move food and eating to the periphery of your life, thinking you pay it too much attention. Pay more attention.

    Food IS love. Food IS life. 

    As to body sanity, I would borrow my Zen teacher's maxim: Believe nothing, question everything, don't take anything personally.

    What are you being told? Question it. Follow the money. Who benefits? What is the ultimate source of this information you have about how your body ought to look and perform?

    Ask if the ideal you're being asked to work toward is achievable by anyoneShortcut to the answer: IT AIN'T.

    Guess what? 1. the goalpost is *always* being moved because capitalism is powered by human dissatisfaction <- a longstanding condition observed for thousands of years, seems to be part of who we are and 2. an important component of the "ideal" body is YOUTH and are we getting any younger?


    Finally, I wish both women and men knew that the reason we strive to reach these culturally imposed ideals - the reason beyond our brain's tendency to dissatisfaction and its exploitation by drug companies, publishers, "beauty" companies, surgeons, street-corner flimflams and everything else - the reason we strive is a biological imperative. Our first order of business here, after survival, is to reproduce. We want to attract mates.

    But how many of us turn down perfectly good opportunities for sex to go to the gym? Lots of us! We go to the gym -> so we can "be fit" but really -> so we can lose weight -> so we can buy cute jeans -> so our bum will look good -> so we can attract mates -> so we can reproduce.

    I'm here to tell you: That's going all the way around the world for a carton of milk. You can just go to the corner store! We can attract mates all up and down the scale. Expensive procedures not required.

    (But I also want you to know you should still go to the gym to be strong! Especially if like me you have any risk for osteoporosis.)


    But the #1 thing? Definitely meals, and I know how DURRRR that can sound. Common sense, right? But the truth is the habit of eating meals is surprisingly uncommon.

    Thus, it's one of the first things I teach people. Gets rid of a good 80-90% of compulsive eating. So we will talk about it in my upcoming Body of Knowledge workshop taking place this Saturday September 29th. 

    Also about how to get rid of what remains of your out-of-control eating which is likewise easier than you've been led to believe.

    If that sounds good to you, please join me for my last workshop of 2018. All the details are here.

    Image: Portrait of Arnoldus van Rijneveld, Louis Tocqué, c. 1738, Rijksmuseum. Used with permission.

  • Answers to your questions about Body of Knowledge workshop

    Some readers have had questions about the Body of Knowledge workshop.

    Here are the answers, in case you too were wondering.

    Q:  What if I've done your workshop before? Will it be useful to do it again?

    You can totally take the workshop again. There's always new stuff, although the core principles have not changed. And I'll be delighted to see you.

    If you're in need of fresh inspiration, you will find it here. 

    Q:  I can't be there live on the 29th. Can I still do the workshop?

    Yes, of course! I'll have everything for you - video and audio recordings, slides, the famed one-pager cheat sheet, maybe some other stuff - within 24 hours, if not much sooner. You will not miss anything, and if you want to make sure we cover your specific questions, just email them to me and we'll address them.

    PS you won't be the only one. There's always more people who watch later than can be there live.

    Q:  [Some other person's workshop] didn't work for me. Is yours going to be any different? Will it ... actually work?

    What I do is pretty different from almost everything else. And it works UNBELIEVABLY well.

    But you should know a few things: My way of eating results in happiness, sanity and measured weight loss. You will not drop three dress sizes by next week. You will stop bingeing right away.You will become a normal eater immediately. 

    If that sounds good, please join us. So much relief is waiting for you.

    Q:  Do you have a specific set of eating guidelines? Like, is this a diet?

    This method is emphatically NOT a diet! Nothing is forbidden. Nothing is prescribed. I repeat: THIS IS NOT A DIET.

    Q:  What are we going to actually do?

    I'm going to show you the fastest way to demolish food obsession. It's simple, it's easy, it's got two moving parts, there's almost nothing to remember, there are almost no rules, and there will be zero confusion. You're going to learn the most flexible, sustainable, invisible way to eat normally forever. You're going to learn the simplest, quickest, most direct way to dismantle the binge habit ever. You're going to be able to ask me anything, and get all your questions answered.

    Best of all: It feels good right away. There's no white-knuckling, no teeth gritting, no praying desperately to make it through, no getting a plain espresso when everyone else is getting gelato, no trying to tell yourself bullshit like nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels < I meannnn we all know that's a lie, and the dum-dum who said it never tasted passionfruit soft-serve in an activated charcoal cone, that's for sure.

    And you know what else? You'll never again have to choose between happy with what you eat and being happy with your body < OMG SO GOOD!!!

    Q:  What's the difference between the workshop and your private coaching?

    My private coaching is 1:1 time between the two of us over an extended period, plus unlimited email between sessions. We have time to really get into your particular situation. And for some people, the accountability piece is very important.

    But I don't hold back any secrets from workshop attendees, and the method I present is the same. The workshop is a great affordable alternative to private coaching.

    If that sounds good to you, please join me for my last workshop of 2018. All the details are here.

  • It's never about diets

    I'm annoyed about diets today.

    And want revenge on them. So I’m going to tell you a little story about the time I was pregnant with Son no.2, and in one of the worst job cultures I’ve ever experienced. 

    This was 20+ years ago. It was the middle of the winter, and I had a brand-new job, and a crap commute. And I was big, and uncomfortable, and I had to pee all the time. And unlike with Son no. 1, I was never not starving. 

    My job was kind of stressful, mostly because the culture was such a bad fit for me. It was a very small company, family owned, lots of in-laws and cousins and whatnot, and everyone knew each other. And liked each other, pretty much. And ate lunch together.

    Every single day.

    But they didn’t go out to lunch. They went to the conference room for lunch. Everyone, together, same time, every day, trooped into the conference room with their sack lunches. It was like being back in primary school. 

    (Perhaps I have not told you: I grew up partly in Albuquerque. And back in the day, in Albuquerque, if you brought a sack lunch, you had to sit at a SPECIAL TABLE. With the four other loser kids and their sack lunches. I’m sure this was a highly effective method of selling more school lunch, because nobody wanted to sit at that table off in the corner with us loser kids.

    Once in a great while my sister and I would get money for a hot lunch and man, those lunchroom burritos were actually really good! But the truth is, our family didn’t have money for regular school lunch, and that is why I never forgive a restaurant that doesn’t deliver a better meal than homemade, and why I will never not be overjoyed and pinching myself to eat at a place like Daniel.)

    Anyway, back to the job that reminded me so much of grade school. These women would march into the conference room, unpack their sack lunches, and here’s what would happen next: They would eat their lunch while talking about their diets.

    Ugh. Just SHOOT ME.

    Note that of course they didn’t call their diets "diets." Even in the 90s everyone knew not to call it a diet already.

    It was called “eating healthy.” “Taking care of yourself.” Perhaps “saving money.”

    One of the women there ate the same thing every day: a little cup (not a whole culinary measuring cup! a little cup) of cottage cheese and a half grapefruit. And not a broiled grapefruit with brown sugar and a maraschino cherry, either. (A dish due for a comeback, because you know how fashion works.) Anyway, NO! Not a broiled half grapefruit, but a COLD one. In the middle of winter. 

    Every. Dadgum. Day < also that woman was my boss

    Reader, even though I was hormonal, starving all the time, and about as emotionally controlled as a character in Fast and Furious XXVI: Groundhog Day, I held my tongue. I did not educate those ladies on why Fat is a Feminist Issue and why diet culture is sucking the life out of half the planet. 

    I just got out of that job as fast as I could, or in about two months, which is pretty darn fast for a visibly pregnant lady with a skinny-ass resume. But it was a long two months from the inside, I can tell you that.

    So! I say all this to say, in case you are one of the people who worry that what I do for a living is package up diet culture and make it look like a layer cake, I say NO.

    Dieting cannot be what LIFE is about, dieting is not what am about, and dieting is most definitely not what my WORKSHOP is about. 

    There will not be dieting. There will not be talk of dieting.

    Instead, there will be pleasure, there will be feeding ourselves, there will be getting enough of everything we need, there will be self-trust, there will be laughs, there will be surprisesrelief and an end to bad habits, an end to obsession.

    And an end anything else related to food or weight that's standing in the way of your PERFECT FREEDOM around food, weight and eating. 

    If that sounds good to you, please join me for my last workshop of 2018. All the details are here.

Stop bingeing and overeating. Immediately.

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