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The Recovery Expert
with Sharie Stines, Psy.D.

How to be thin

loseweightThinness, just as fatness, is a lifestyle. In order to develop a thin lifestyle, it helps to develop thin habits.  This involves doing what thin people do and thinking like thin people think. If this is something you haven’t done before than it might be challenging, but not impossible. Old habits can be broken and new habits can be formed.

One reason so many people find it difficult to live thin is because of how they were brought up. Many people grew up with eating habits that have become firmly entrenched in their way of life.  It is much harder to undo something already learned than it is to start out that way from the get go.

Here are some basic “dos and don’ts” of thinness”

  • Don’t eat when you’re not hungry.
  • Be active rather than sedentary.
  • Don’t get seconds.
  • Stop “grazing.”
  • Eat fruits and vegetables, particularly when you snack.
  • Don’t drink your calories – limit sodas, alcoholic beverages and other sugary drinks.
  • Stop dieting.
  • Exercise every day.
  • “Forget” to eat.
  • Do not obsess about food.
  • Learn to feel hungry.

Now, to be fair, some people are emotional eaters and eat to assuage their anxiety or depression. Eating obsessively brings comfort and numbness to someone who is trying either consciously or unconsciously to avoid negative emotions, particularly ones of rage and emptiness.  In some ways, eating is the activity and comfort and/or numbness is the addiction.

If this is your problem, then the above list of habits to develop is a great start, but is not the complete program needed to make lifelong change. In addition to developing thin habits, some emotional and cognitive (thinking) overhaul is necessary.

To eliminate emotional eating, it is beneficial to learn how to have the uncomfortable emotions you are avoiding and also how to come to terms with your relationship with food.  Get out your journal and start putting your pen to paper, bringing forth your unexpressed emotions in the process. This will help you on your journey to learn how to “live thin.”

Ask yourself some pointed questions:

  1. If food is comfort, what does comfort mean to you? What price are you willing to pay to buy comfort?  What beliefs do you have regarding the feelings of being uncomfortable? This requires rigorous honesty. Somewhere in your mind you have an underlying belief about your “right” to feel comfortable.The flip side of this belief is the belief that you can’t bare feeling uncomforted.  This is personal; analyze your own belief system and see what you uncover.
  2. If you are eating to feel full and not empty, what fears do you have about facing your emptiness? What are you lacking within yourself that scares you?  Security? Belonging? Love?Oftentimes people overeat because they have “love hunger,” caused from not being sufficiently loved as children, and so spend the rest of their lives trying to find fulfillment in food. This might be a temporary fix, but long term satisfaction is never found in food.   Food is meant to enjoy, but not to fix unmet emotional needs.
  3. Many people “stuff” their feelings, particularly, feelings of anger. Try not eating for a while and see if you can get in touch with your anger. What and who are you angry at or with? What are your beliefs about anger? What messages did you receive as a child regarding anger (and other emotions for that matter?) Was it unsafe for you to express anger as a child? Were you not allowed to freely be yourself?treadmill
    If you were to be angry with someone today, how uncomfortable would that be for you?The more you can understand your fears and beliefs about emotional expression, the more you will connect the dots between your emotions and your relationship with food.  Anger is a complicated emotion. Some people are very comfortable expressing anger, but many are not.

Dieting doesn’t work in the long run, and actually contributes to the problem of not being thin because it encompasses a mindset involving a technique or method for accomplishing a goal.

The best and only way to have lasting transformation in your weight is to make a lifestyle change.  This requires a complete paradigm shift. Not only is it essential to develop new habits, but more importantly, it requires a change in mentality; this involves altering your attitude towards food, emotions, and comfort.

Note:  By the term, “thin” I do not mean anything sickly, unhealthy, or anorexic.  By thin, in this article, I refer to a healthy body weight for the individual.

How to be thin


APA Reference
Stines, S. (2017). How to be thin. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/recovery-expert/2017/01/how-to-be-thin/