For the sake of semantics can we all just agree that any time we eat food we don’t “need” it is a binge? Essentially, a binge occurs when we override our bodies and commandeer the cookies. In order for this remarkable test to do its job we need to start by using the same terms. So, food we don’t need is a binge (or compulsive eating).
From this definition of a binge we learn overeating requires a disconnect from the needs and prompts of our bodies. To reverse compulsive eating, the first thing we do (before the test) is to practice connecting when we eat. As I lost 110-pounds and eliminated body struggle I learned 3 helpful tools to be connected when I eat. They all rely on the skill of projection. Projection means you project what you are missing, what sounds good, and whether or not you are satisfied with the present amount. C’mon, you have been around enough to know how you will feel after another helping of pulled pork. Here is the breakdown of these steps:
1) What’s Missing?
Project backward over the last 24 hours and observe what categories of food are missing. If you have had a lot of flour products, you don’t need more grain. If you have been eating leafy greens like a bunny, you might be missing some protein. If you have lived without any treats you are probably screaming for some sugar. All of these absent things are detrimental to balance and balance speeds the metabolism (Yup, even the sugar needs to be there). Decide what is missing from your fuel values so you can fulfill them.
2) What Sounds Good?
Trust your body to talk. If you are missing vegetables, allow your body to direct you with color (yellow squash, red tomato, green beans, etc.) or notice which food springs to mind. If you have not had much in the way of grains and whole-grain bread with butter sounds good, go for the bread or include it in upcoming meals. If fresh, juicy watermelon sounds good, attempt to fulfill the absent fruit.
3) Am I Satisfied Yet?
This conversation is great to have from the very first bite. It requires you to project ahead and see how well your portion size meets your need. So, the first bite is great. After a few bites you just ask yourself how close you are to “satisfied.” Use projection to get an idea what your needs will be. When you get to the “bliss” point (that moment of satisfaction and fulfillment when you know you have had the right amount) you can stop and be perfectly balanced. BUT, here’s the rub: what if it tastes SOOOOOO good you don’t want to stop? This moment of longing for more food is where the test works perfectly, every time so you DON’T WANT more. Rather than fighting off urges with discipline, this test produces aversion from your body so you don’t want any more—making it easy to have the right amount of food every meal.
In a nutshell, the test relies on the truth that food we DON’T need simply cannot satisfy. We might think we ate the whole box of cereal because we like Choco Puffs, but we probably stopped tasting after a point. And if food doesn’t satisfy, the body will tell us it really and truly doesn’t want anymore. Ergo, no discipline or self-control is needed because your own body stops you before you do damaging excess. This is how people in a peaceful, balanced relationship with their bodies experience food. But don’t take my word for it. Try the test:
Here is the Projection Test:
Eat in a connected way until you are satisfied. When your body tells you it is fulfilled with the present amount of food, TEST it by taking 1-2 more bites. Tune in and actually assess if those test bites are, in fact, as good as the earlier bites that your body needed. Every time, without fail, the body will tell us: No this is not fulfilling, it is not as good. As you get clear on your messages from your body you will even get an “aversion prompt” telling you more would be gross and you don’t want it because it simply cannot fulfill you.