Changes in medicine in the 1950s supported the theory that anyone could be thin by eating less and any imbalance was due to lack of will power. Picking up on the fear Americans had of going soft, the media began to fuel the cultural drive for thinness with unremitting intensity. As models became thinner and thinner, Americans, especially women, began to equate self worth with the shape of their bodies. As a result the average American woman is heavier and fatter now than in 1950.
Obesity experts affirm diet restrictions create a sense of deprivation and promote the fear that certain foods are inherently dangerous. When foods are eliminated or severely restricted from the diet, these foods become the object of obsessions or intense cravings. The result is a binge which is the body's natural attempt to fight against adversity. Traditional diets turn the focus of fueling the body from the recognition of internal cues related to hunger and satiety to dependence on external cues to determine what and when to eat. When the ability to feel hunger and fullness is diminished by dieting, we no longer believe we can trust ourselves not to diet. Giving up a diet can create an enormous amount of anxiety. Continued long enough, these obsessions and cravings for forbidden food turn into an inability to eat normally. This lack of trust serves to weaken self esteem, further distort body image, and intensify a sense of failure.
A person's ability to manage feelings also impacts non-hunger eating. Emotional eaters who gain weight with one episode of depression tend to gain weight with the next. Studies have indicated that brain serotonin is critically involved in controlling mood, and many persons learn they can reduce depressive symptoms by eating.
Normal eating is eating out of a sense of true physical hunger what your body is hungry for and stopping when the hunger has been satisfied. Look at a baby. When his blood glucose (sugar) levels drop and more food is required, he doesnt know this. He senses it. He screams until he gets something to eat and he stops eating when he feels satisfied. He senses this satisfaction because his stomach feels full. As blood glucose levels rise this sense of satisfaction stays with him for several hours. With few exceptions, we are all born with this natural hunger mechanism. Unfortunately, many of us lose it along the way. We become externally focused. We consider what everyone else says about what our bodies need, how much we need, and when we need it. We eat because everyone else is eating or because it is our normal meal time. We tend to forget about hunger and fullness. In order to sense true physical hunger, we must once again become more internally focused.
When the body has adequate fuel ( plenty of glucose in the blood) there are no physical internal hunger signals. As blood glucose levels fall to the point where the body needs to refuel. The brain sends signals for acid secretion to begin in the stomach in preparation for the ingestion and digestion of food. We feel this in various ways as "emptiness, acid, growling, etc." If we ignore the signal the body stops acid production and "hunger" goes away for about an hour. The second signal is more intense as the bodys way of saying, "Pay attention. Its time to eat." If we continue to ignore hunger signals, the body responds by taking over and demanding as much food as possible, to be eaten as quickly as possible, without any consideration to preference for type or consistency. More can be eaten in this one episode than if two meals had been eaten when hunger was at a manageable level. Choosing to eat soon after the body sends the signal to eat honors our internal hunger mechanism. We maintain control over our intake and have the ability to slow down and pay attention to what we are eating. In this way we have the ability to stop eating when the body signals us to stop.
Weight normalization occurs when we wait for hunger and stop eating as soon as we feel satisfied. The body will naturally begin to use excess fat stores before signaling hunger. This allows a person to lose a healthy amount of weight without worry about lowering metabolic rate or using muscle stores for energy.