Expert advice from our “A” Team! Antony and Andy the resident psychotherapists at Hippocrates Health Institute give you a piece of their minds!
Q: My friends and family ask me all sorts of questions about my vegan lifestyle. I feel pressured to be a nutrition expert, and it makes me insecure and uncertain of my choice because I don’t know all the answers. What do I do?
A: Do you know how to install plumbing? Probably not. But you take a shower every day anyway. Why? Because you like how you feel when you do it. And you know enough about the benefits of good hygiene to know you’re on the right track. The same applies to going raw vegan. Here’s the bottom line: You don’t have to know everything before you make changes or adopt a lifestyle that’s good for you. In fact, you don’t really have to know anything! If you see someone doing something and can tell they’re benefiting from it, you can choose to do it for that reason alone. Learn as you go. When you get questions you can’t yet answer, feel free to share your own reasons for choosing your new lifestyle, and let people know you’re still learning. Increase your knowledge base—not necessarily to become an expert on the subject, but because you want to know what you’re doing so you can refine your choices as you go. You might want to look at where the pressure to know everything came from. My guess is you do it as a way to feel good enough, or to justify yourself and your right to live the way you want in a way that might be different from those around you. Be brave, take a stand for yourself, and keep making choices that are good for you! You may not (yet) be an expert on the raw vegan lifestyle, but you are the authority on your own life and choices.
Q: I have tried many times to control the amount of food I eat. I succeed for a while, then I go back to my old habits. I have never been able to sustain my healthy weight. Any suggestions?
A: Portion control is indeed an effective strategy in weight management because it makes it easier to burn more calories than you consume. A 2017 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that, in a group of people who wanted to lose weight, those who paid attention to their food lost 37 percent more weight than those who were distracted while eating.
Here are a few simple ideas that will help you become a more mindful eater:
Keep your food out of easy reach. One study found that food intake was reduced when food sources and serving dishes were kept a reasonable distance from dining and lounging areas.
Mentally measure your portions. It can help to learn to visualize how much 5 ounces of avocado is, or 3 ounces of walnut, or two teaspoons of oil, as you’re eating. When you measure in this way, you actually control the portion with your mind.
Eat in the light. A recent study at Cornell University found that those who ate in a darker room consumed 36 percent more food than those who ate in a brighter room.
Eat at a slower pace. Eating a meal in 22 minutes helped students in an experiment to eat 88 percent fewer calories than those who ate the same meal in nine minutes.
Drink a lot of water, particularly in between meals. At Hippocrates Health Institute, we do not recommend drinking with a meal, or immediately before or after, because water could dilute the digestive enzymes and acids.
Consider downsizing your dinnerware. Since people are used to eating 92 percent of the food on their plates, it can help to eat on a smaller plate. The size of the plate helps you visually to feel satisfied.
Track your consumption. Incorporating an app or a journal into a diet has proven to help portion control because it brings in more awareness to the amount we consume.
Split the portions in restaurants. It is a good practice to share portions, or to take home a portion, when in a restaurant. (Avoiding all-you-can-eat buffets is a good idea as well).
Of course, this is not a comprehensive guide. There are more creative ways that you can control portions. Try to customize any or all of these ideas to suit your unique preferences.
Q:Eating only raw foods makes me feel like an outsider with my friends and family. How do I deal with that?
Food is not neutral. Eating is so intertwined with social bonding that your concern about feeling like an outsider is warranted. First, get strong in your conviction that raw is right for you. Then, rather than excluding yourself from others, include them in your new choices. Let them know how important your new way of eating is to you. Let them know that you need and want their support.
My message: don’t let this become an area of exclusion, even if it is an area of differences.
A little bit about our expert team:
Antony Chatham, M Phil, M Th, MSW, LCSW is a Florida- licensed psychotherapist and a member of the National Board for Certiﬁ ed Clinical Hypnotherapists. He uses holistic traditions of healing and integrates psychology, philosophy and spirituality.
Andy Roman, LMHC, MS, RN serves as a mind/body psychotherapist using and teaching feeling-centered, body-focused awareness tools. He conducts private sessions and facilitates the Healing Circle Therapy and Support Group.