Your eating lessons from My Big Fat Fabulous Life: Food as punishment

Whitney and Glenn Thore on My Big Fat Fabulous Life meet with Julie Duffy Dillon dietitian discussing food myths and truths.

I sat down with Whitney Thore and her dad Glenn Thore of TLC’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life. The session was filled with laughter, tears, and a loud grumbling stomach. In case you missed it, here’s a link to the show and information on this episode 6, The 5K.

The 90 minute session edited down to just a few minutes allowed you to hear lessons important for everyone. Over the next few weeks I will explore key points and teach you how to incorporate them into your own food experiences.

When I work with someone with pre diabetes or PCOS, food reward concerns come up quickly. Clients feel ashamed of eating experiences that feel out of control or binge-like. They believe this behavior is hurting their insulin levels and causing further disease.

Do you experience this too?

I think it is natural to blame the food rewards or bingeing yet I disagree. I told Glenn Thore he appeared to be using food as punishment. His cycles of starvation PRECEDING the food rewards were the cause. In order to change the cycle, he needed to stop starving. He needed to stop dieting and stop focusing on weight loss. More on this process here. If you have PCOS, here’s one especially for you.

Whitney mentioned her dad used food as a reward and culturally, this type of system ran through their family. It does for many of us! She and Glenn went through his typical routines ignoring hunger and waiting to eat until the work is done.

I find many of our nutrition problems are rooted in what we don’t see. The Thore Family saw the food reward system and thought that was the source of disease (pre diabetes).

I disagree. The point of disease inception stems from food avoidance and self-care neglect.

The times Glenn and any of us neglect hunger we are punishing ourselves. I find this especially to be true for those who are in fat bodies (or bodies thought to be fat). Our society speaks:

Fat bodies take up too much space. They need less food. Even if that hurts. Less is better.

I petition we help society do a 180.

As humans we are designed to need food for fuel. This includes fat bodies too. Human physiology doesn’t include earning rights to the metabolic equation. We need food to live.

Everyday. Many times a day.

Our bodies constantly churn and process to keep our noggin clear and our muscles moving. Even when we sleep, our muscles and brain need fuel.

How cool we can know how much fuel we need just by this nudge of hunger. And how perverse our world is teaching us to ignore or worse, distrust it!

Here’s the secret: the more we punish ourselves and restrict/diet/starve, the more we will reward ourselves with food. The food reward is not the cause nor the problem. This is just the human body being a successful human.

Next time you binge, emotionally eat or overeat take a step back.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • When did you last eat?
  • Was it enough?
  • How much food have you allowed yourself today?

Most binges start by not eating enough earlier in the day. More on this here.

Have you neglected hunger like Glenn? Do you even notice hunger anymore?

If relying on hunger sounds scary or impossible there’s a way. Consider experimenting with info here.