Overeating is learned behaviour. If you can learn to overeat then you can learn to eat the right amount. It is a relatively easy process and only requires the same level of commitment that you need to begin a diet. The big difference is that, unlike dieting, there is no battle, no fight, and no cravings to battle with. The whole process is simply one of replacing the habit of eating too much with the habit of eating just the right amount.
Do you remember learning to drive? That very first time sitting in the driving seat and being in control of all those pedals, switches, levers and that great big wheel. You not only had to think about all of those things, but also manage to miss things too. It seemed like an impossible task. But you kept at it, and now, 5, 10, 20 years later you don’t give it a thought.
The reason you don’t give it a thought is because it has become a habit. Habits are actions you do without thinking about them. According to learning theory there are four stages we pass through when we are learning a new skill.
- Unconscious incompetence – we don’t know how bad we are
- Conscious incompetence – we know how bad we are
- Conscious competence – we know about our improved skill level
- Unconconscious competence – we just do it without thinking about it
You can easily relate that to learning to drive. You probably passed your test at stage 3, and over the next few months moved to stage 4.
Can you relate this to losing weight though?
It hardly seems the same thing at all.
Think about stage 4 though where you do things without giving them any thought. When you are overweight you are at stage 4 in eating too much. You eat without thinking about it. It is just an automatic behaviour. You barely even taste the food it goes down that fast. You don’t think about getting up and nipping into the kitchen for a snack, you probably frequently just find yourself eating.
This is why it is difficult for you to lose weight. Overeating has become thought-less because you have reached Stage 4.
What a diet does is to interfere with that process. It makes you think about what you eat. But, because it doesn’t really attempt to do anything about the habitual aspects of overeating, it leaves you with a craving for the foods you normally eat in the quantities you normally eat them.
Because it never deals with the habit, a diet is always a battle using conscious will to overcome the learned behaviour of eating too much. Because habitual behaviours are automatic, as soon as you release control – because of tiredness, stress, or emotional upset – the old behaviour re-appears and you find yourself eating again. The problem with not dealing with this aspect of weight loss is that as soon as the desired weight is achieved on the diet (if you ever make it that far), then the old eating habit will slowly re-assert itself.
I mean who wants to do that diet battle forever?
There is another way. A way that deals with the habit aspect, but there is a downside. This way does not produce rapid weight loss. What it does is to give you slower but consistent weight loss in a way that is effortlessly sustainable.