Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Taking Emotion out of the Equation"

After my last post on chubbiness ("Something Else"), fellow author Brenda Ferber posted in reply that her solution to worrying about her weight has been to adopt a whole new way of eating, "taking emotion out of the equation," and simply listening to her body and eating when she was hungry and not eating when she wasn't hungry. When I replied, with an anguished wail, that I don't eat gumdrops because I'm HUNGRY but because I LOVE them, she wrote back, "So eat them. Eat one or two. The whole bag doesn't taste any different from the first one or two and eating the whole bag just makes you miserable." (I'm paraphrasing here, but that is basically what she said.)

Hmmm. This is definitely something to think about.

Brenda's advice made me remember my college days. I was an undergraduate at a women's college, Wellesley, and we ALL ate out of emotion ALL the time. Sometimes there would be ice cream for dessert at dinner, and you never saw such a frenzy. First there would be screams and shrieks of uncontrolled delight. Then there would be a mad rush over to the ice cream table, with lots of pushing and shoving. We would grab enormous soup bowls and cram them full of multiple scoops of ice cream and eat the whole entire bowl before eating anything else. This, although there was plenty for everybody and actually ice cream night was quite a frequent occurrence.

Then I went to Princeton for grad school, living in the Graduate College. Princeton at that time was almost all men. We had our first ice cream night at dinner. I screamed and shrieked and ran over to the ice cream table. Then I looked around. I was all alone. The men were just sitting there eating their dinner as if - as if there was plenty of ice cream for everyone and ice cream night was quite a frequent occurrence!

So I have now spent two days eating the Brenda Ferber way. It isn't quite a fair test yet - is two days ever a fair test of anything? - because I had my strep episode on day one. But still I have to admit that the results so far are intriguing. I have a bag of my MOST favorite candy EVER, Hershey cherry cordial kisses, and I've been having two or three a couple of times during the day, fully savoring each one. Last night, at my Prindle reading group, I surveyed the snacks I had put out - fancy cheeses, crackers, Pepperidge Farm cookies, wine, lemonade, water - and I asked myself, "What do you really WANT to eat? Because you can eat anything at all that you want, you know." I decided that I wanted a couple of crackers with cheese, and two orange Milanos, and a small glass of wine, and a larger glass of water. And that was what I ate.

I think I'm going to keep on trying this new plan, Miss Brenda!


  1. I'm so glad what I said resonated with you, Claudia!

  2. I'm definitely liking it so far! It makes me think of this country western song where the guy has lost his girl to some rival; he enumerates all the things the other guy did to win her - "He says he loves her and he'll never leave her - why didn't I think of that?" So: re your advice - eat when you're hungry - why didn't I think of that?!