The other day I saw an advert for a programme by Paul McKenna: I can make you thin. I haven't tried diets because I understand science and it comes down to calorie intake. I also understand that a diet that is non-maintainable is worse than useless as well.
So, what I was looking for, without really realising it up until now, was a way to tackle the psychological issues surrounding food, rather than attempting to directly modify what I actually take in.
What Paul McKenna is saying actually made a load of sense, and also links in with 'good table manners'. If only people explained the reasoning behind good table manners, I would have been a lot more careful to make sure I stick to them ;)
Anyway, the crux of it is that the body is very good at regulating itself. Fat people have learned to override that with the seratonin rush that comes from eating food, and hence ignore it. Being very hungry is bad: it puts your body in starvation mode and it stores fat from what you eat rather than use it as energy. Being overfull is not good either as this simply means you've eaten more than you needed to: ie. you're going to get fatter. Additionally, learning to recognise the growing feeling of physical hunger vs. the emotional 'sudden craving' for something. 75% of the time you think you're hungry, you're just dehydrated. Drink a glass of water.
So, Paul's solution: Eat consciously. Eat when you're hungry, not otherwise. Make sure you think about everything you put in your mouth. Concentrate on just eating - no reading or watching television while you eat. Eat what you feel like, but eat slowly - your food will go cold if you do this properly. Chew your food properly - at least 20 chews for each mouthful. Put your cutlery down between each bite. Consciously leave something on your plate at the end of every meal, to undo the conditioning that you must finish your plate. STOP when you've had enough.
Additional positive psychology to reinforce this, such as practising eating slowly and putting down cutlery is useful (even if it does make you feel stupid). Also, imagining what it would be like to be thinner and thinner, thinking how you'll look, how it will feel, makes a plan in your head.
Don't give up if you slip up.
It's all obvious stuff, but having it put together and explained in a coherent manner just makes sense.
So far, this morning, I have had a bowl of cereal which I didn't have time to take slowly unfortunately. But at lunch I ate my food slowly, and threw about half of it away, much to my surprise. I'm drinking water. I will have a bag of crisps (remember, eat what you like) later on if I get hungry, but I will think about each mouthful and stop if I don't need to eat it.
There are two more episodes in the series, about dealing with cravings and other bits and pieces, but I think the core of the message is here. It's what thin people do - indeed, a lot of the things have been said by a thin person quite close to me ;)