Trick your way to healthy eating

Recently a client of mine told me that he grew up with an eating disorder which wasn’t diagnosed until only a few years ago. It was called Binge Eating Disorder. He’d had it since he was a child and as he described it, most people would have never recognized the urges and guilt shrouded in decades of suffering with the disorder. However, once diagnosed, over two years he quietly chipped away at the psychology behind the disorder and changed his habits. He still has his urges and occasionally gives into them, but, as he told me, “For me it was all about keeping myself focused on what I was doing.” Now, he’ll tell you that he hasn’t lost his appetite or the need for constant eating. But, what he’s done is in a way tricked himself into eating healthier. He’s used a few tricks so that his eyes think he’s eating more than he is. Now, is his plan a way to overcome Binge Eating Disorder? It’s not likely to work for most people. Unfortunately, like most eating disorders there is a psychological factor, rather than simply not eating or forcing yourself to eat. It’s a long and complex journey. But, for my client, this was part of his journey.

When he was telling me his story, what I found is that his ideas would work great for most people looking to lose weight. He’s used two techniques of substitution and tricking the mind to lose nearly 50 lbs.

These are his techniques in his words (his name changed):


I don’t know why I never thought of substitution before. When I was a kid my family would always say, pass the food over to Jake, he’ll finish it. And I often did – plates and plates of food. As I grew older, those portions and the need to finish my plate and
as many plates as were thrown in front of me became habit. So, when I was in college and a girlfriend commented on me eating, I started to pay a little more attention. Strangely enough, as a top collegiate athlete I worked out enough that my food intake wasn’t
noticed on the outside. Little did I know that years later as my joints began to ache and a knee injury led to my retirement, those calories and binge eating would really hit me in a nearly 80 lb weight gain over two years.

In my late 30s I had a client who told me about his binge eating disorder. His symptoms were similar enough to mine that I investigated and was then diagnosed with the psychological eating disorder, which I still suffer from. However, I didn’t let the diagnosis throw me into shame. Instead I tried to turn things around by tricking myself using substitution.

I started with simple things such as switching out spaghetti squash for spaghetti. Then I moved onto replacing grilled hamburgers with portobello mushrooms. But, probably my biggest change was my trip to Chipotle – like three times a week. I began eliminating
the rice from my burrito and replacing it with extra veggies. Then I went from a burrito to a bowl.

The same works with pasta. At one time I would eat 8 oz of pasta at a time. But, then I began substituting 2-3 oz of pasta with about 5 oz of broccoli.

Now, for many people they’d say, well, big deal, you’re just swapping a high calorie food with a lower calorie food. Big deal! Well, it is a big deal. For someone like me who eats compulsively, substitution is a need. Swap the good for the bad.

Tricking the Mind

While substituting the good for the bad, another thing I recognized is that eating a lot is still eating a lot. And while I may have been dropping my calorie intake I was still taking in so much food that despite losing weight I still had a stomach that was frequently
stretched out. So, my next step was to reduce the actual bulk of what I was eating and it all started with cheese.

Why cheese? Well, I was someone who would regularly eat slices of cheese. I add them to the side of my plate, and snack on cheese throughout the day. It was my girlfriend in college nearly two decades before who told me that she always shredded her cheese because it looked like she was eating more than when she sliced cheese – and she was right. Sliced cheese can appear to triple or quadruple the size of cheese. This can be a big deal for someone and many people overeat not because they need a massive quantity of food, but rather because they focus on the eating behavior. With shredding all of my cheese I found that I not only thought I was getting more, but it also took longer to eat.

The effect can also be used with heavy water-filled foods such as watermelon, strawberries and cantaloupe which all have over 90% water which is easily dispersed and disposed of from the stomach after eating.

With only these two techniques of substitution and trickery I was able to lose about 50 lbs. without exercise, although that did come next.

If you would like to get some guidance with a diet and/or exercise routine, book a complimentary strategy call here. Let’s set up a game plan together.

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