Tag Archives: The Institute for the Psychology of Eating

More From Marc David- “A New Way To Lose Weight: Listen To It”

A New Way To Lose Weight: Listen To It


Here’s my new excitement: to get real and truthful and edgy about the gigantic subject of weight loss. Let’s all see if we can put our collective mojo together and spark something new in the weight loss conversation. Let’s invent some useful insights that have a chance to further the action and help us discover who we are and why, as a world, we keep growing more and more plump. So, in the spirit of pioneering a new trail in the still uncharted territory of weight, allow me to offer something that might sound a bit confusing, but I think is helpful:

If you’re trying to lose weight simply because you want to lose a bunch of weight, then it’s going to be extremely difficult to lose weight.

Here’s what I mean: most people who have extra pounds attack their body fat as if it was some foreign and hostile invader. We honestly believe that this excess weight is “not me.” So, we do our best get rid of this unwanted yuk that seems to be ruining our ability to have a good time. And it all makes sense. But here’s the rub – weight loss strategies don’t work. This isn’t headline news. Any study that has any scientific morals and scruples bears this out in the long term. If there was a weight loss diet or pill or program or gizmo that truly worked, we’d all know about it and guys like me would’ve been thankfully out of a job long ago.

What I’m saying is that if there was one single reason why we don’t lose weight – it’s because our reason for wanting to do so is all off, which leads us to invent or undertake weight loss methods that fail us. Again, most people want to lose weight simply to get the weight off.

The problem is, the weight is there for a reason and it has a message. It has a deeper purpose. It’s talking to us. The wisdom of life, of the cosmos, of the grand design of all that is  – speaks through the human body in the form of symptoms. We are fashioned with a brilliant operating system that has our biology taking direct orders from divine intelligence. Excess weight is a messenger from a higher source. If you kill the messenger – that is, if you actually do lose the weight but don’t get the wisdom it’s trying to impart – the messenger returns. 99% of people who lose weight on a weight loss diet gain it back. There’s no moral failure here. It’s not about eating less calories or switching to skim instead of half and half. We just didn’t listen deeply enough.

Trying to get rid of weight by “losing it” is like trying to get rid of paying a bill by ripping it up and throwing it out. It seems like such a great idea. Just get rid of the bill. The problem is though, when you throw out the bill, another one comes in the mail, and this time with a late fee. Throw that one away and the consequences grow steeper.

The bills and the extra weight have something very simple and profound in common – neither has any real value in and of itself. Yet they both point to something. The bill points to the fact that you purchased your house with a loan from the bank, and you owe the bank gobs of money. Ripping it up then, is a silly and nonsensical act. Likewise, excess weight points to something else. To simply get rid of it for the sake of getting rid of it goes against universal law.

The billion-dollar question then, is “What does excess weight point to?” The answer, in my experience, is that there are an infinite variety of possibilities. Here are just a few common and compelling ones. Excess weight can point to:

  • Our poor food choices
  • Emotional hunger
  • Unmet needs
  • Repressed feelings
  • Confusion around self identity
  • A call for love and help
  • Self hatred
  • Our disconnection from the body
  • Past history of sexual abuse
  • Being wounded by love
  • Financial worries
  • Repressed creativity
  • Being someone we are not
  • The need to forgive and move on
  • The need to earn how to truly nourish and care for oneself
  • Loneliness
  • Fear of sensuality
  • Too much stress
  • Separation from one’s spiritual source
  • Too many foreign chemicals and toxins in our world that directly or indirectly lead to weight gain – fluoride, mercury, bovine growth hormones, xeno-estrogens, and many more
  • The sickness in our manufacturing world that would have us invent and sell junk foods in the first place
  • A nation that values excess and over-consumption
  • A culture that values speed, disembodiment, and lack of awareness
  • A world that is filled with fear, anxiety, and mistrust
  • Someone else’s belief that we need to lose weight
  • An obsessive need to lose weight where no weight actually needs to be lost

Each one of these is literally like a bill to pay. We can’t just avoid these life lessons, rip them up, or exercise and diet them off. We’ve got to question, self examine, look, listen, feel, get real, be truthful, and grow into a more mature way of listening to the body and honoring it’s wisdom, even when the body isn’t conforming to our humble demands that it be beautiful and hot and skinny. Of course, this isn’t easy. The process of self-examination is predictably a bitch. For this reason, far too many of us look for the quick fix. We don’t want to be uncomfortable as we face the tougher questions, so we’re easily seduced by the next diet gimmick that never works.

Just as it’s time to pay the bills, it’s time to pay homage to weight. It’s time to own that our challenges with weight require a whole new approach. No more quick fix. It’s time for the slow fix. Can we be brave enough to listen? Can we be courageous enough to be patient?

What important message and life lesson is your body trying to bring your awareness to?

Warm Regards,

Marc David

Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating

From Marc David- The Psychobiology of Chewing

Several months ago when I read Marc David’s book about  his “Slow Down Diet” I started to eat my food more slowly and with more awareness. I have remained more conscious of my pacing and  chewing even when I have little time to eat.
That being said, I was amazed when I read this article.
The information about every aspect of chewing seems so comprehensive and compelling to me that I know it has already positively impacted my whole approach to eating.
I will be  dining much more often than reverting to my old habit of simply eating food most of the time.
Hopefully you too will find this article to be fascinating.
Enjoy and Mange!!!!
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The Psychobiology of Chewing

Posted on April 10, 2013 – 6 Comments

The Psychobiology of ChewingThere’s more to chewing than you might think. It’s arguably the first digestive activity that we bring to a meal, and unlike the chemical processes that occur in our gut, chewing falls under our conscious control. Except of course, when we go a bit unconscious and inhale our food. But chewing is more than a digestive aid. It also has a potent psychological function that helps keep body, mind and emotions in balance. Consider the following:

Have you ever wondered why crunchy foods are so popular, why advertisers promote products on the basis of crunchiness – “super crunchy,” “extra crunchy,” “stays crunchy even in milk”? Have you noticed that whenever you eat your favorite brand of potato chips, pretzels, or crackers, they each have a similar degree of crunchiness? What advertisers understand and capitalize on is that crunching and chewing are primal activities, inborn urges dating back to the first life-forms that ever “crunched” on each other.

So important is the level of crunch that many years ago, potato-chip manufacturers developed a sophisticated apparatus to measure the perceived level of crunch that consumers hear in their heads. The most pleasurable decibel levels were deciphered, and potato chips were subsequently manufactured to these standard orgasmic crunch levels.

From a psychophysiologic perspective, chewing and crunching are natural outlets for inborn aggression.

Throw a piece of meat into a lion’s cage and the lion will likely roar at it, attack it and tear it apart as if it were still alive. The lion must do this because its nature is to be aggressive. But aggression here isn’t meant as some mean, vengeful act. A lion doesn’t attack a jackrabbit because of hate. Quite the contrary, the lion attacks because it loves the jackrabbit.

Like the lion, human beings have a distinct measure of innate aggression, and developmental psychologists often see this energy as first experienced through the infant’s desire to bite. Psychologists call the original oral-aggressive act the “hanging-on bite” to the breast. This is a biting that establishes confluence with the mother. The baby must actively hold on for nourishment and will often keep holding on even when mama has had enough. The tension it experiences when separated from the mother before it’s fully satisfied is typically expressed through crying, screaming and facial contortions.

In the many body-oriented disciplines and psychologies, the jaw is associated with anger and aggression. When these emotions are habitually withheld and left unexpressed, they may become “frozen” on the face as a perpetually clenched jaw or tightened musculature resembling a scowl. Just as a dog clenches its teeth when angered or challenged, so too do human beings channel aggression through the face. From an evolutionary perspective, the process of biting and chewing allows for the release of what psychologists call dental aggressive urges.

Many people habitually fail to chew, swallowing their food almost whole.

They tend to derive pleasure not so much from the taste and texture of the food as from the velocity at which it’s eaten. In such instances we deny an important, natural outlet for tension and fail to experience full satisfaction from a meal. In an effort to free the unreleased tension, we may continue to eat past the point of satiation, turn to other oral based habits like gum chewing, or simply internalize the tension, allowing it to build over time and eventually express itself in chronic emotional or biological symptoms. For many people, TMJ is the result of unexpressed anger that’s looking for an outlet.

On another level, by swallowing food whole, we make a statement about the way we approach the world. We want our hungers in life satisfied but aren’t fully willing to take the necessary steps. This need for immediate gratification is reflected in our refusal to chew. Ironically, a side effect of the short-cut method of not chewing is more hunger. Chewing and tasting are basic to hunger satisfaction. When we limit these simple gustatory requirements, the brain screams for more food. Taste, texture, and satisfaction are literal nutritional requirements.

In one fascinating experiment, scientists deprived a group of test rats the sensation of taste. This group of “tasteless” rats, along with a control group, were placed on a normal rat diet. Both groups ate the same amount of food, and in a short time the taste-deprived rats all died. When the rats were autopsied, researchers could only find one cause of death – clinical rat malnutrition. The scientists could come up with only one explanation – that there are important yet unknown physiological connections between taste and health. Similarly, hospital patients fed intravenously or through feeding tubes that bypass the mouth often report a nagging hunger for taste, and can experience digestive, immune and other health issues. Though the mechanisms that govern these phenomena are little understood, this much is certain: to be fully nourished by food, we must experience it through tasting and chewing

In a comparable manner, to be fully nourished by any experience, we must “taste” and “chew” it thoroughly.

It’s no accident that many of the words we use to describe eating are the same ones used to describe the thinking process. When presented with an idea, the mind will first grasp it and “chew” on it. Our conscious mind breaks it down into its component parts, “tastes” it, then “swallows” it into the subconscious for final “assimilation”. When we accept something without “ruminating” over it or when we swallow something “hook, line and sinker,” or when “biting off more than we can chew,” what we say in our metaphoric language is that just as food works with digestion, so too do perceptions work with the mind. Improper chewing of food or ideas are equally disturbing to our system.

The mouth deserves our nutritional respect. It’s the first step in the digestive process. Here the chemical digestion of starches is initiated with amylase, an enzyme that breaks down the complex carbohydrate molecules in a well-salivated mouth. The mechanical digestion of food is also initiated in the mouth with the process of chewing. The surface area increases as the food is broken down into smaller and smaller pieces. When the food reaches the stomach, the number of molecules exposed to the stomach’s acid and enzymatic environment is maximized.

If we swallow something whole, such as a piece of meat, an abnormal series of events occurs. First the stomach must churn the meat with its own muscular movements to help break it down into smaller pieces, a function it’s not ideally designed to do. Next, we go through the lengthy chemical process of breaking down large pieces of food. Because we started with one large bite, only the surface of the meat remains exposed to the stomach’s digestive juices. To digest the meat further, the stomach may secrete more acid than normal. This irritates the stomach lining, which is the reason many eaters experience acid indigestion. The condition is exacerbated if the food is high in protein. The greater the protein content of the food, the higher the level of stomach acidity required to digest it.

Chewing is a “pacesetter”. Whatever speed and number of times we chew sets in motion a rhythm that our entire body adopts. By chewing rapidly and insufficiently, we initiate an unsettled frame of mind that is reflected in the body as uncomfortable sensations in the digestive system. Chewing at a moderate to slow rate promotes a relaxed, grounded demeanor and for many, a noticeable stronger metabolism

Full chewing need not be a discipline, but can occur spontaneously simply by eating with relaxed awareness, and settling in to an attitude of nourishment with our meals. Rather than concentrate on chewing food, eat your food, savor it, delight in it, and let chewing be a natural part of the eating process.

Can you see how chewing is more than just a digestive activity? Do you have your own personal story of how chewing food is a metaphor for how we munch on life?

Warmest regards,

Marc David

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From Marc David- When You Eat Is As Important As What You Eat

This post by Marc David contains information that is familiar to anyone who has read about or has studied the traditional Asian system of healing known in the acupuncture meridians and the five elements system.
What I enjoyed about Marc’s writing on the topic is that he clearly relates the connection of the cycles of metabolism and food digestion with the environment of human beings. This is also the case when one studies the meridians and elements, but there seems to be less abstraction here in Marc’s  simple explanations.
Our body cycles correspond clearly to the planet we live in.  Marc reminds us that most Americans patterns of food consumption are out of synch with the cycles we live in.
So if you are a night eater,  notice the ways  the current culture we live in encourages our eating in patterns that are not optimal for our maintaining vibrant good health.
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When You Eat is as Important as What You Eat

Posted on February 14, 2013 – 12 Comments

Eye ClockRhythm is everywhere. Each particle of our being moves and pulsates, dances and sings, and keeps to the beat of a brilliantly conceived symphony. The whole of our biology is a fantastic clockwork of precise chemical and hormonal rhythms whose timing is critical for our survival and well-being. Your heart beating is a rhythm. Your lungs breathing, inhaling and exhaling vital atmosphere, is a rhythm. The electrochemical pulsation of the brain is a rhythm. So too is the menstrual cycle, waking and sleeping, digesting and eliminating, and the contraction and expansion of every cell, vessel, and organ in the body. Interfere with any of these and disease or death can follow.

Master rhythm and you master metabolism.

Indeed, much of what ails us from a nutritional perspective – weight gain, fatigue, digestive complaints, carbohydrate craving, overeating – can be resolved by entraining with the kinds of rhythms that naturally and effortlessly regenerate us. Lets take a look at how we can better understand and harness this important metabolic force.

One of the simplest and most reliable ways to measure the metabolic rate of the human body is to take its temperature. The hotter you are, the more metabolic you’ll be. The Latin name for our midsection-solar plexus-means “gathering place for the sun.” This highlights how we’ve long known that the basic design of the human form is a capturing device for the sun’s energy. The more efficiently we harness the sun’s warmth, the better we digest, assimilate, and calorie burn.

It’s no accident that we use temperature metaphors to describe what excites us. An energetic person is called “a fireball,” an attractive person is “hot,” we “warm up” to some people while others leave us “cold.”

As evolutionary fate would have it, body temperature has a rhythm that is consistent and predictable for most everyone, and this daily rhythmic fluctuation reveals some important insight into unleashing our metabolic potential. During the evening and early morning hours when we sleep, body temperature drops. It makes sense that our bodies are cooler at this time because were not busy hunting for animals in the jungle or hunting for bargains at the mall. Our muscles have little work to do at this time; the body is in a state of rest, healing, and repair. We do burn calories as we sleep, but not at the amount we use up in our waking hours.

The moment your eyes open in the morning, body temperature automatically begins to rise.

This is the same thing as saying your metabolism wakes up when you do. It makes biological sense because now the sun is up, and it’s time to find food, find a mate, do battle, and perhaps do a few good deeds. Even if you stayed in bed all day and didn’t move, your temperature/metabolism would still elevate because we’re programmed to entrain with the rhythms of the sun.

Since you’re naturally heating up in the morning, eating at this time is a smart bet if you’re trying to lose weight. Adding food to your gut will increase metabolic rate even more and provide your body with the nutrients its already preparing to process. Think of your gut as a furnace. When you add fuel, the heat rises.

There are, of course, exceptions to every nutritional rule. I’m presenting this information as guidelines – not absolute facts for everyone. Many people who live in hot-weather climates do great with no breakfast, a light breakfast, or a fruit breakfast. You’ll also find that you might do well on a substantial breakfast in the colder months, but will be drawn to eat lighter in the early hours during the warmer seasons. You may also go through periods where the first meal you eat isn’t until after lunch, and that too works fine, until your metabolism shifts into its next phase.

Body temperature continues a slow, steady rise and subsequently peaks around noon. It will exactly reach its apex the very moment the sun finds its high point in the sky – this is a little known scientific fact that shows our profound connection to the cosmos. Our digestive force is therefore hottest at lunchtime. It makes sense, then, that our largest meal would be best consumed at this time, when our ability to pulverize food is strongest.

After our metabolic peak at high noon, body temperature dips for the period between approximately 2:00pm and 5:00pm. It shouldn’t surprise you that just as we feel more awake when body temperature is rising, we feel sleepy when it’s falling. So if you’ve ever felt that there’s something wrong with you because your energy drops somewhere between 2-ish and 5-ish, don’t worry – you’re perfectly normal. Most people you ask will tell you that they feel tired during this time. It’s the human rhythm. Lions love to lounge around and absorb after their big kill. So do you and I.

Body energy – in the form of blood flow and oxygenation is rerouted to digestion after our midday meal.

The result is that we feel even more tired. People in many European and Latin American countries typically have their biggest meal at lunchtime – the peak metabolic time slot of digestion and calorie burning. Then they take a siesta. Businesses shut down, social activity goes quiet, and people snooze. They are honoring and working with the natural rhythms of the body. Entire cultures are designed to function in relation to digestive rhythms.

Except ours.

In America, most of us tank up on caffeine or sugar during the metabolic decline of 2:00 to 5:00 PM, pushing through our fatigue in service to a way of life that values the overdrive gear more than any other speed. Can you imagine what life would be like if you could relax during this time and let go of achieving and conquering? Numerous studies have shown that one or two fifteen- to twenty-minute rest periods during the day will profoundly increase cognitive function, physical performance, mood and energy. You don’t even need to sleep during this time. It’s simply about rest, stillness, closing off outside sensations, and recharging your batteries.

Simply put, resting is a metabolic enhancer.

At around 4:00 to 6:00 PM body temperature starts to rise again. This is when most people feel their energy return. It’s also when the English stop for teatime. It makes perfect sense to do your caffeine at this point, when metabolism is picking up anyway. By around nine o’clock, body temperature begins another downward trend in preparation for sleep. Indeed, sleep research reveals that we cannot fall asleep soundly unless temperature is dropping. Anything, then, that would raise body heat in the late evening would be counterproductive to good sleep. Recall that the act of eating raises body temperature. A big meal before bed could therefore interfere with your slumber. Once again, though, Americans have it backward. We tend to do a small to nonexistent breakfast, a moderate sized lunch, and a more often than not, a big dinner before bed. And this is exactly what you ought to do if your goal is restless sleep and weight gain.

When you eat is as important as what you eat

In a typical study, researchers put a group of people on a 2,000 calorie diet. In the first part of the study, test subjects could only eat their 2,000 calories at breakfast. They ate nothing else for the rest of the day. With this one meal in the morning, everyone either lost weight or maintained their existing weight. In the second phase of the study, the same exact people ate the exact same 2,000 calories diet, except this time, they could only eat it at dinner. With this one meal for the entire day, eaten in the evening, every single person in the study gained weight. Can you see why counting calories to lose weight can be a waste of energy if we don’t take into account when we eat those calories?

Timing is everything. Sumo wrestlers have known for centuries that large meals eaten in the late evening hours will give them the physical advantage they covet most – flab. Simply put, we calorie-burn less efficiently in the late evening hours.

So, if you want to get the ultimate metabolic benefit of eating, don’t eat your most substantial and nutrient-dense meal when your digestion is on a downturn in the late evening hours. Unless you’re seriously considering an unusual career change, I suggest that you relinquish the Sumo diet immediately. Eating little food during the day and much in the evening will never take you where you want to go when it comes to optimizing energy and burning calories.

I would love to hear your experiences with eating and rhythm.
Please let me know your thoughts below – I don’t always get a chance to comment on each one but I do read them.

My warmest regards,

Marc David

Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating