Tag Archives: The Institute for the Psychology of Eating

More From Marc David- Mind Over Food

I just loved this article. Building upon last week’s words of wisdom from Marc, a refreshing approach to food and eating is presented here.
It is so wonderful to have this  topic presented in a way that is completely resonant with all of the forms of energy healing I practice with myself and my clients.
I hope that you enjoy this one too.

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Mind Over Food

BrainOne of the most fundamental building blocks of nutritional metabolism is neither vitamin, mineral, nor molecule. It’s our relationship with food. It’s the sum total of our innermost thoughts and feelings about what we eat. This relationship with food is as deep and revealing as any we might ever have. The great Sufi poet Rumi once remarked: “The satiated man and the hungry man do not see the same thing when they look upon a loaf of bread.” And Al Capone, noted gangster, astutely observed, “When I sell liquor, it’s called bootlegging; when my patrons serve it on silver trays on Lake Shore Drive, it’s called hospitality.” Indeed, how each of us thinks about eating is so profoundly relative that if a group of us were looking at the same plate of food, no two people would see the same thing, or metabolize it the same way.

Say, for example, we were examining a plate of pasta, chicken, and salad. A woman wanting to lose weight might see calories and fat. She’d respond favorably to the salad or chicken but would view the pasta with fear. An athlete trying to gain muscle mass might look at the same meal and see protein. She’d focus on the chicken and look past the other foods. A pure vegetarian could see the distasteful sight of a dead animal and wouldn’t touch anything on the plate. A chicken farmer, on the other hand, would likely be proud to see a good piece of meat. Someone trying to heal a disease through diet would see either potential medicine or potential poison, depending upon whether or not the plate of food is permissible on her chosen diet. A scientist studying nutrient content in food would see a collection of chemicals.

What’s amazing is that each of these eaters will metabolize this same meal quite differently in response to her unique thoughts. In other words, what you think and feel about a food can be as important a determinant of its nutritional value and its effect on body weight as the actual nutrients themselves.

Sound unbelievable?

Here’s a bit about how the science works:

How Your Brain Eats

The information highway of brain, spinal cord, and nerves is like a telephone system through which your mind communicates with your digestive organs. Let’s say you’re about to eat an ice cream cone. The notion and image of that ice cream occurs in the higher center of the brain – the cerebral cortex. From there, information is relayed electrochemically to the limbic system, which is considered the “lower” portion of the brain. The limbic system regulates emotions and key physiological functions such as hunger, thirst, temperature, sex drive, heart rate, and blood pressure. Within the limbic system is a pea-sized collection of tissues known as the hypothalamus, which integrates the activities of the mind with the biology of the body. In other worlds, it takes sensory, emotional, and thought input and transduces this information into physiological responses. This is nothing short of a miracle.

If the ice cream is your favorite flavor – say, chocolate – and you consume it with a full measure of delight, the hypothalamus will modulate this positive input by sending activation signals via parasympathetic nerve fibers to the salivary glands, esophagus, stomach, intestines, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. Digestion will be stimulated and you’ll have a fuller metabolic breakdown of the ice cream while burning its calories more efficiently.

If you’re feeling guilty about eating the ice cream or judging yourself for eating it, the hypothalamus will take this negative input and send signals down the sympathetic fibers of the autonomic nervous system. This initiates inhibitory responses in the digestive organs, which means you’ll be eating your ice cream but not fully metabolizing it. It may stay in your digestive system longer, which can diminish your population of healthy gut bacteria and increase the release of toxic by-products into the bloodstream. Furthermore, inhibitory signals in the nervous system can decrease your calorie-burning efficiency via increased insulin and cortisol, which would cause you to store more of your guilt-infused ice cream as body fat. So the thoughts you think about the food you eat instantly become reality in your body via the central nervous system.

The brain doesn’t distinguish between a real stressor or an imagined one. If you sat in a room all by yourself, happy and content, and started thinking about the guy who did you wrong years ago, and if that story still carries a charge for you – your body would quickly shift into the physiologic stress-state – increased heart rate and blood pressure, followed by decreased digestive function.

Any guilt about food, shame about the body, or judgment about health are considered stressors by the brain and are immediately transduced into their electrochemical equivalents in the body. You could eat the healthiest meal on the planet, but if you’re thinking toxic thoughts the digestion of your food goes down and your fat storage metabolism can go up. Likewise, you could be eating a nutritionally challenged meal, but if your head and heart are in the right place, the nutritive power of your food will be increased.

Placebo on a Plate

To fully appreciate the power of mind over metabolism, let’s take a fresh look at one of the most compelling phenomenon in science: the placebo effect. Here’s my favorite example of this extraordinary force.

In 1983, medical researchers were testing a new chemotherapy treatment. One group of cancer patients received the actual drug being tested while another group received a placebo – a fake harmless, inert chemical substance. As you may know, pharmaceutical companies are required by law to test all new drugs against a placebo to determine the true effectiveness, if any, of the product in question. In the course of this study, no one thought twice when 74 percent of the cancer patients receiving the real chemotherapy exhibited one of the more common side effects of this treatment: they lost their hair. Yet, quite remarkably, 31 percent of the patients on the placebo chemotherapy – an inert saltwater injection – also had an interesting side effect: they lost their hair too. Such is the power of expectation. The only reason that those placebo patients lost their hair is because they believed they would. Like many people, they associated chemotherapy with going bald.

So if the power of the mind is strong enough to make our hair fall out when taking a placebo, what do you think happens when we think to ourselves “This cake is fattening, I really shouldn’t be eating it,” or “I’m going to eat this fried chicken but I know it’s bad for me,” or “I enjoy eating my salad because it’s really healthy?”

Certainly I’m not saying we can eat poison without any harm if we believe it’s good for us. I’m suggesting that what we believe about any substance we consume can powerfully influence how it affects the body. Every day, millions of people eat and drink while thinking strong and convincing thoughts about their meal.

Consider some of the foods you’ve given strong associations to:

“Salt will raise my blood pressure.”

“Fat will make me fatter.”

“Sugar will rot my teeth.”

“I can’t make it through the day without my cup of coffee.”

“This meat will raise my cholesterol level.”

“This calcium will build my bones.”

To a certain degree, some of these statements may be true. But is it possible that we are instigating these effects? And if these effects are the inherent result of eating these foods, can you see how we can enhance those results with the potency of our expectations?

The placebo effect is not some rare and unusual creature.

Its appearance is quite commonplace. Researchers have estimated that 35 to 45 percent of all prescription drugs may owe their effectiveness to placebo power and that 67 percent of all over-the-counter medications, such as headache remedies, cough medicines, and appetite suppressants, are also placebo based. In some studies the response to placebos is as high as 90 percent.

It amazes me that very few in the scientific community have made the obvious connection between placebo power and food. Indeed, the placebo effect is built into the nutritional process. It’s profoundly present on a day-to-day basis every time we eat. It’s like phoning in a prescription to your own inner nutritional pharmacy. What we believe is alchemically translated into the body through nerve pathways, the endocrine system, neuropeptide circulation, the immune network, and the digestive tract.

Can you see the importance of your inner world when it comes to metabolizing a meal? Are you ready to bring your happier and more relaxed self to the table?

Feel free to share your own stories about the power of the mind to influence a meal.

My warmest regards,

Marc David

Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating

A New Kind of Nutrition- From Marc David

I haven’t posted something from Marc David, the founder of The Institute for The Psychology of Eating, in a little while.I enjoyed this post  because once again he cut through the madness of our American culture of obsessive concerns about food, body, appearance and  the part that  is destructive to our having wholesome relationships with our bodies and eating.

It underscores that part of our mainstream American culture is a deep attraction to fads and “the latest” which permeates all aspects of life in our country.

In short, this post is a breath of fresh air.

On a completely different topic- just to let you know that I have completed updates of my website www.beyourbliss.info to include some detailed information about Infinity Healing sessions. Please take a look and let me know what you think.

I hope that you enjoy this article.

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A New Kind of Nutrition

Posted on January 30, 2013 –

Heart On BeachHave you noticed that an extra large portion of our collective conversation around nutrition is driven by our love for the exaggerated excitement of “what’s new” – the latest miraculous supplement for limitless energy, the hottest diet that guarantees fat-free glamour, or the next breakthrough food that defies disease and attracts your perfect mate? We expect quite a bit from food, and perhaps rightly so. But is there really anything new worth getting excited over? Are any of the breakthrough pills, foods or gizmos truly delivering on their promise? If we gaze honestly and compassionately at the illness, obesity and unhappiness surrounding us, the answer appears to be a poignant “no.” We’ve looked to the science of nutrition to lead us into the promised land of milk and honey, but upon arrival we’ve been told “don’t drink the milk” and “don’t eat the honey.” And to make things more confusing for eaters everywhere, our nutrition experts are ceaselessly engaged in a war over who holds the key to the kingdom called “The Right Way to Eat.”

Fortunately, things are changing. There really is something new in nutrition. In fact, a quiet revolution has rolled onto the landscape of the nutrition field, the kind of which is born of an honesty and light of truth that simply can’t be stopped. It’s causing a transformation in the way we nourish ourselves. This “something new” is simply this:

A deep understanding of the psychology of eating.

Meaning, an approach to food and health that embraces all of who we are as eaters – body, mind, heart, soul, spirit and planet.

Such a model of nutrition affirms that each of us is emotionally AND biochemically unique, that there’s no “one size fits all” in the diet business, and that every nutritional system or expert has at least one nugget of wisdom to offer us. In other words, what’s good for the Okinawans, the French, the Mediterraneans, the Hunzas, the Paleolithics, or the bikini-clad inhabitants of South Beach isn’t necessarily what’s good for us. Just take the nugget of truth that works for you, and that works for the people you love and serve.

Most importantly perhaps, the psychology of eating acknowledges what we’ve known all along and deep inside – that human beings are more than just a collection of chemicals, and food is more than the sum total of its’ vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients. When it comes to eating, we are creatures of life, love, pleasure, community and celebration. And our metabolism is driven not only by the chemistry of our cells, but by the depth of our psyche, the stories of our heart, and our dreams for the world.

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating is the nesting ground for this new paradigm of nutritional and emotional health. It’s the power spot where a fresh vision of our relationship with food is being birthed into practical, real world manifestation. The Institute is filling a huge void. The results are seen in students and graduates who are inspired about their work and fueled by the inner knowing that they are nutritional innovators sharing a special gift with the world.

Eating Psychology is the future of nutrition, and the future is now.

If this speaks to you, then consider yourself a vital, irreplaceable part of it. Each one of us holds a nutritional secret that’s never been seen before. Are you ready to discover and share it?

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating has faced head-on the greatest challenge in the field of nutrition today – the severe, long-term deficiency of vitamin L – love, and vitamin S – soul. For too many years, the psychological and spiritual dimensions of eating have been banished from the table. As a result, we’ve suffered from simplistic and ineffective nutritional strategies such as “eat less and exercise more” or “eat this, don’t eat that.” We’ve given our power away to outside authorities, to punishing forms of diet and fitness, and to impossible standards of health and beauty. It’s time for the kind of nutrition education that truly nourishes.

So let’s continue to discover the cellular mysteries of the body. Let’s move forward and identify the nutrients that heal, the foods that nourish, and the chemistry that kills. Let’s make functional foods, nutraceuticals, and standardized botanical concentrates. But let’s also leave lots of room for a hearty meal. For pleasure and relaxed fare. For quality, and not just mass-produced bottom line quantity. Let’s leave as much room for the cake as we do for the carrot juice. Let’s look with as much concern to the soil as we do to the ingredient label on our cereal box. And for those in our charge, let’s look to help them gain life before we coax them to lose weight.

If you’re any type of health or helping professional, you’ve chosen a beautiful and special path.

Congratulations. And if you’re interested in the unique education that the Institute for the Psychology of Eating offers, please learn more about us. Either way, it’s now your task to liberate yourself from the kind of negative inner dialogue where you judge your own health, weight, and way of eating and living in the world. By embarking on such a journey, you’ll learn how to help others even more.

Please remember to honor your inner knowing. Respect your gift. Stop feeding your imperfections so much time and energy. You don’t need to be perfect to help people. Your task is not to learn to fix anyone. Just be real, be honest, be compassionate, and be you. Accept where you are with graceful loving courage, and your success is assured. Your gift to the world is your own journey in all its’ fullness. Go out and share it as if it were the best meal on Earth.

I would love to hear from you. Do you see the field of nutrition headed in a new or nourishing direction? Feel free to share your thoughts.

My warmest regards,

Marc David

Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating , www.thepsychologyofeating.com

Marc David- On Thanksgiving

I enjoyed reading this article by Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

It’s nothing terribly profound or revolutionary, but I like it. Maybe you will too.

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you,


Perhaps you’ve heard this story by now that one of our most brilliant founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, lobbied to have the wild turkey be our national bird rather than the bald eagle. When I think about it, how un-cool would that be to have a turkey be symbolic of all that is American? But Benjamin Franklin knew a different turkey then you or I do today. Indeed, if you’ve ever seen a wild turkey you would surely conclude that it’s a very interesting bird. These creatures are big, kind of clumsy and appear completely un-designed for flight. When they fly, they make a heck of a lot of noise. When they’re on the ground or in trees, they’re whisper quiet. Wild turkeys might very well be the easiest prey for the worst hunters. For the Native Americans and the early American settlers, a wild turkey in sight pretty much meant a guaranteed meal.

Nowadays, the turkey you’ll eat at Thanksgiving can’t fly at all. It has absolutely no street smarts. The turkey companies will birth, harvest and sell millions of these flightless birds in the next handful of days. How times have changed. As I prepare to host friends and family for the Thanksgiving event, I like to search for meaning that can sometimes be overlooked in the holiday chaos. Some of our guests are vegans. Some are vegetarians. Some are carnivores. Some of the carnivores don’t eat gluten. The vegans and vegetarians don’t mind gluten – they just don’t like the dead bird. I assume there will be many different dishes on the table to accommodate the various nutritional philosophies present. Can you imagine a bunch of pilgrims dealing with the same issues?

I’ll admit that there’s a part of me that feels guilty at a Thanksgiving feast. I know there are plenty of people out there who are hungry, starving, and in need. Can I really celebrate this holiday in an opulent way while over 50 million Americans are living in poverty? And how can I celebrate a memorable day that ostensibly recognizes the graciousness of Native Americans who helped save the hungry European settlers while those same settlers have been anything but kind and gracious towards their hosts?

As far as I can tell, we live in a chaotic world. Sometimes it seems that there’s no justice. Sometimes it seems that life just isn’t fair. And it’s a sure bet that at any given time in human history, there are always the haves and the have-nots. It’s a spiritual challenge to be thankful for what we have, while holding and embracing in our hearts the enigma that others in the human family seemingly have far less to be thankful for. It’s a moral conundrum to feast while others about us are in famine.

So this is why the “thanks” and the “giving” in Thanksgiving are so important. Gratitude for what we have, for anything and everything that we’ve been given in this life is one of the most important spiritual nutrients. Oddly enough, it’s not the kind of nutrient you ingest – it’s the kind of nutrient you feed back to the environment. It keeps the gods well fed, and willing to bestow upon us even more.

When my parents and grandparents grew up in this country, they were called “citizens.” Today we are called “consumers.” The word “citizen” implies an active participant. The word “consumer” implies something that spends its life cycle devouring. Let’s just stick a fork in this label called “consumer” and consider it done and over with. Be a cosmic activist. Give thanks. Be gracious. Sprinkle a little bit of humility in the stuffing. Bless the chaos that is humanity. Give some love to the meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Drink the wine. Don’t drink the wine. Feast. Overeat. Go on a diet the next day. Or maybe just eat the salad. Feel guilty. Love yourself. Pinch your body fat. But amidst it all, take just one moment, a personal one between you and the divine, and give thanks for the life you’ve been given.

Warm regards,

Marc David

Founder – Institute for the Psychology of Eating