Have you read, Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting by Bethenny Frankel? I didn’t think I was going to like it. But I picked it up in a bookstore a couple of years ago and was immediately hooked by her honesty and down-to-earth style.
After years of yo-yo dieting, Bethenny was able to find balance by changing her habits and learning how to think like a “naturally thin person.”
The book is divided into two parts. The first provides a detailed explanation for each of her 10 Rules for Living Naturally Thin and includes two or three recipes for each rule. The second part walks you through a weeklong example of how to implement the rules into a Naturally Thin Program for Life. The book concludes with a 3-week peek into Bethenny’s food journal.
So, what are the 10 rules for living naturally thin? Here is my take on Bethenny’s 10 principles for being Naturally Thin for the rest of your life:
1. Your diet is like a bank account. Think about finding the balance in terms of what you eat. When you overindulge at one meal, compensate at another by making lighter, healthier choices. If you eat a lot of carbs at one meal, choose protein at your next. Balance your “good investments” and “splurges” just like you have to do with your finances so you don’t end up in debt or overdrawn at the end of the month. Think about what you are eating and and consciously decide whether it is worth it.
This is so much healthier and more effective than the all-or-nothing thinking that leads to saying, “I blew it at lunch so I may as well double down and have a large pizza and pitcher of beer for dinner.”
2. You can have it all, just not all at once. When it comes to splurges, decide what you want the most. You don’t need to have it all at every meal. Do you want the wine, or the bread, or the pasta or the dessert? What you don’t have today, you can have another day.
With this approach nothing is off limits so there is never a need to feel deprived. It’s in alignment with what I’m constantly reminding myself: “Martha, this isn’t your last meal. You will eat again. You can have the pizza today (along with a nice big salad for balance) and the gelato this weekend.” Telling myself that I can have whatever I want has taken away so much of the anxiety I used to have around food.
3. Taste everything, eat nothing. When faced with a lot of indulgent choices, just have a bite or two or three of what you really really want. The sum total will equal a meal, but you won’t have gone overboard.
This is a great rule, provided you have the discipline to stick with just a couple of bites, so it’s important to know yourself (see Rule 8). This is my new approach to eating dessert. I’ve learned to tell myself that the first bite is always the best and the rest will never be as good, so I can stop with just a bite or two (most of the time).
4. Pay attention. Notice what you are eating. When you eat, eat. Don’t eat while doing something else, because you won’t get the satisfaction out of your food and you’ll end up eating more than you realize.
I’m a big believer in the power of slowing down and savoring your food. I know it can be tricky to implement in our multi-tasking, break-neck paced world, but it’s worth worth practicing. One thing I’ve done is make it a rule to avoid eating unless I’m sitting down. Try it. You’ll be amazed at how much less food you need to feel satisfied when you are actually paying attention.
5. Downsize now. Eat less. Portions are out of control in this country. We have no idea what a normal serving looks like any more, especially when it comes to restaurant food. Plates are often generous enough to serve a family. I was shocked and amazed when I first learned that the typical bagel is equal to four slices of bread!
Using smaller dishes can make this a lot easier to implement, since normal-size portions on supersize plates can look pretty skimpy. I feel like investing in small plates, bowls and ramekins was one of the smartest things I’ve done for myself and my weight maintenance.
6. Cancel your membership in the clean plate club. Nobody is going to slap your hand with a ruler if you don’t finish it all. Let it go. Pay attention to how you feel. When you have had enough, stop.
This can be a real struggle, especially if you’ve been raised to believe that wasting food is wrong because, “There are starving children in the world.” But, the truth is that “cleaning your plate” is an illogical solution, since it does nothing to eradicate starvation and only hurts you. Remember, “It’s better to waste than to waist.”
There are lots of strategies, besides cleaning your plate, you can use to limit waste. These include sharing a meal and packing up leftovers to bring home for another meal, two of my personal favorites.
7. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Don’t binge. Never, ever again.
Again, this is easier said than done if you are a binge eater, which Bethenny acknowledges, and she suggests that if you have an eating disorder, it would be wise to seek professional help. AMEN.
One thing that can really help, is giving up “dieting” forever since deprivation always leads to binging eventually. And if you are an emotional eater or if years have dieting have left you with a fear of certain foods, it’s important to remember that food is not the enemy and it is not your best friend. It is just food.
Since I stopped “dieting” I rarely get out of control with food the way I used to. It’s been ages since I devoured a box of Cheez-Its or pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Do I ever overeat? Of course. I’m human. But I don’t beat myself up about it the way I used to. I just let it go and work to make better choices at my next meal.
The key is to be kind and patient with yourself. When you slip up, learn to forgive yourself and move on.
8. Know thyself. Forget about what all the “experts” say and pay attention to you. Become your own expert. Learn. Study your likes, dislikes, tendencies, strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. What are the triggers that cause you to overeat? Are there certain foods that cause you to lose all control? What are your biggest food challenges?
The more you know about yourself the more successful you will be so learn to trust yourself.
9. Get real. Eat more real food and less process stuff. It’s healthier and more satisfying. Focus on eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Think local, seasonal and organic when you can. But be realistic. Sometimes processed food will be the best or only option and that’s fine.
I’m always working to find the balance between healthy fuel food and fun treats. I believe it’s what you do most of the time that matters, so I shoot for eating well 80% percent of the time, which seems to work for me. That way when I really want ice cream or chips or a cookie or pizza, I can enjoy it without guilt.
10. Good for you. Take care of yourself. Invest in yourself. Do what’s right for you, what’s healthy for you, what’s good for you. Exercise. Drink lots of water. Take a vitamin. Get enough sleep. Build a firm foundation of good health and self care and you can do anything.
This can be a challenge if you believe that self-care = selfish. I believe that many of us who struggle with our weight are in the habit of putting ourselves last. But the truth is that if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anything or anyone else, so make yourself a priority.
Overall, I loved this book. The rules are mostly things you’ve heard or read before, but the way she describes how to apply them to your everyday life is invaluable. It’s not enough to read weight loss books, you actually have to follow their advice!
I’ve been working on implementing these rules, especially thinking of my diet like a bank account, which has been extremely helpful. It’s rational and logical, and I get the freedom to choose.
And I love the easy, everyday recipes, like this one for banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookies . But because Bethenny doesn’t believe in counting or tracking calories or carbs or fat grams or Weight Watchers PointsPlus values, there is no nutritional information. This doesn’t really bother me since I’m in maintenance mode and rarely track beyond making mental notes throughout the day anymore anyway.
There are parts of the book where Bethenny’s relationship with food still seems a little neurotic, but anyone who has ever struggled with food and dieting should be able to relate.
I recommend this for anyone who wants to lose weight and keep it off, without dieting or deprivation.
What do you think about these rules? Do they make sense and resonate with you the way they do with me? I would love to get your thoughts and comments.