In order to help patients, Everett Clinic physician Cheryl Beighle knew she first had to overcome her own addiction: Peanut M&Ms.
The candy triggers the same response in her brain as a cocaine addict’s, she said. “The same part lights up.”
Eliminating the trigger food that hijacks mind control is a step in breaking bad eating habits.
It’s often a three-steps-forward, two-steps-back process.
“You eat a cookie, then say, ‘I wasn’t going to eat a cookie, so I might as well just eat 10,’” Beighle said. “Every moment is a new moment to start again.”
Take it one bite at a time.
“We have a tendency to look toward the end of the goal, not break it down to steps in the middle,” she said. “It’s like writing a 100-page term paper. Break it down to smaller sections. Otherwise, it is too overwhelming.”
The holidays are a hard time to stay on track.
“Food is a huge part of our culture, but there’s a difference between celebrations and everyday eating,” she said. “If it becomes everyday overeating for a month, that’s not a celebration.”
Traditions can be adapted.
“I used to make Christmas cookies. I was not only perpetuating my own problems with sugar but doing it to everyone else,” Beighle said. “Now I make bath soaps. It’s the giving that gives us joy.”
Peanut M&Ms are a thing of her past.
Trigger foods must be banished, she said. Don’t put them in the pantry so you can have one at a time.
“Get them out of your life.”
Beighle teaches a seven-week behavior-based class, Weight Loss for Life, that covers eating habits, stress-reduction techniques, portion control, healthy recipes, exercise and fitness myths.
“About a quarter lose a significant amount, 10 pounds or more,” she said. “About half lose five and 10 pounds. About a quarter quit the class.
10 weight-loss tips
1. Keep tabs.
“I weigh first thing in the morning naked after I pee,” Beighle said. “It’s the lowest it’s ever going to be.”
Sure, there is some variation among scales. And you can’t strip naked in the hallway at the doctor’s office. Don’t fret over a several pound difference.
“You don’t want to get too OCD about this,” she said.
2. Move on.
If you eat a box of cookies, oh well. There’s nothing you can do other than to not let it happen again.
“It’s not like a dress you buy and take back,” she said. “You can’t take it back.”
3. Table. Plate. Chair.
Those three things should be present while dining.
Don’t eat while driving. No eating by the computer, either.
Beighle also said no eating while watching TV, but, seriously, good luck with that.
During that half-hour sitcom, at least keep this in mind before going back for seconds during the commercial: “The first three bites give us the most joy,” she said.
4. Another year, another pound.
“The thing that gets people in trouble is they are in denial. They think it’s normal to gain weight with age,” Beighle said.
“It’s not normal to gain weight. It doesn’t just happen by chance.”
5. The buffet bliss/curse.
Yes, if you must, you can go to a buffet, but don’t barge in and start piling everything that looks good on your plate.
“Case it out,” she said. “I walk the buffet first, then decide.”
Forget that you are paying the same price whether you eat one plate or three.
6. Drink up.
Drink six to eight cups of liquid a day. “Water should be the mainstay,” Beighle said.
7. The villain of variety.
“The more variety you have, the more you eat,” she said.
There are numerous ways to make chicken. Curb temptation by limiting your choices to baked or broiled.
8. Don’t be fooled by disguises.
“A granola bar is a candy bar that looks healthy,” Beighle said.
Sports drinks have lots of sugar.
The list goes on.
9. But it’s healthy food.
She hears it all the time from overweight patients.
Her response: “Then you are eating too much of it. You can overeat good food too.”
Another thing she hears: “I don’t eat anymore than anybody does.”
Her response: “Maybe not, but it’s more than you need.”
10. It’s a jungle out there.
Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, with a deck-of-cards-size portion of protein and starch.
“Your cart should look the same,” Beighle said. Fill it with fresh food found on periphery of the grocery store, such as produce, dairy and meats.
“Too much in the middle is processed food,” she said. “In the middle, it should be on your list. Go fast and don’t look around. It’s dangerous.”
Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weight loss class
The next session is 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Jan. 7 through Feb. 18, Evergreen Building, Conference Room A, 7600 Evergreen Way, Everett. Cost: $150. For information, go to www.everettclinic.com and click on community classes.