Not only are we inundated with all the things we hear that we should be eating, but also, the should nots. And if i know anything, it is that too much or too little of anything gets us farther away from our natural equilibrium, Balance. Which inevitably, for the most part, is what I see most people coming to visit me, seeking! Natural Balance. Something that somehow has eluded them, often times after years of some sense of restriction. Be it physical, emotional, maybe even spiritual I bargain. Often times, all three. SO thats a bit o the pre cursor to what i want to talk to you about today.. peanut butter. Wait…how did I land there?…
If i had a dollar for every-time…. in my experience one of the topics du jour i often get hit up on, often enough during mid panic, is why “i cannot control myself around peanut butter” Ok so this maybe sounds funny to some, but i cannot even tell you the amount of disordered eating/eating disordered clients, and for the most part women, who fall along a spectrum of wether knowing it or not, are actually restricting on some level often specifically fats, have been caught mid “binge” for lack of a better term, on peanut butter and feeling totally helpless/hopeless and torn up against their dirty little secret. To the point of anger, anxiety, tears, shame to just name a few in the aftermath that often follows.
I have rarely come across well nourished people, meaning enough nutrients/health in account storage and energy needs met, who still turn to this specific food item that actually brings them to emotional havoc every. time. they partake. and NOT because they fully enjoy it. If they did, I could care less. This is not about those people, or even the people like myself who will have an extra spoon cause well, pb is so extra.
SO first things first, peanut and nut butter IS in fact healthy for you. That is important for me to say. I would tend toward non peanut based butters like Almond, as peanuts can be inflammatory causing, however this is not what this specific article is about and so i am going to shelf that one there. Again,this information here is not targeted at those who love a nourishing spoonful or two..ahem, Kate, but rather those individuals who feel helpless to refraining from it and feel disempowered because of it..
Often when i see a woman, less so children, in the midst of their recovery process of an eating disorder, i get a phone call or two, in tears, over polishing off a half a jar or more of peanut butter in one serving.
You see, in order to understand how this might happen, we have to bring in some self compassion and understanding. The brain does this very clever and funny thing, beautiful actually, but it knows that if its needs are not being met, that it will send signals along the way, be it cravings or thoughts that perhaps make us fixated on certain foods that will Inevitably fulfill a need that is going to help us survive. Keep in mind, the brain is made up of 65% fat, or thereabouts. Now add to the mix, that biologically women, require more fats to potentially make hormones that will carry and sustain life means they are even more at risk for hypothetically needing to get their needs met especially around fats and satiety (satiation and feelings of fullness).
Ok, so now we are going to set the stage.
So take for example, someone that maybe is coming off of a period of a diet lets say (resources on the tab are low). They are still exercising a bit (more energy off of the tab), and they are under high stress (living in the head not the body). Their nutrient needs will be that much higher than normal, and the body is going to look for a way to cleverly fulfill these needs if they aren’t being met. So enter the simple food source that the brain and soul feel palatable, and that fit the bill in a quick and easy way to meet nutrient deficits as spam as possible…that energy tab. Enter nut butter.
Now perhaps you have done your work and you openly acknowledge your true needs, someone who has gotten to know their demands and requirement very well. I for example, will require quite a bit more of a lot of fats, be it my activity levels and my work and managing my hormone levels. Therefore having an understanding of my baseline needs this is going to set me up for eating for success and maybe not overshooting the target, so to speak which is where the shame and punishment comes in after these episodes. Just because this behaviour feels like it is plaguing you, does not mean that you have a problem, that you are broken and or that you cannot change. You do have to be willing to challenge yourself though and often times, that means eating more.
Note * This is not the case for people undergoing re-nourishment who will have to increase and increase their nutrient needs until they meet a health baseline and so that can be hard to estimate without guidance.
SO how do you step away from the jar of peanut butter and not be afraid of it any longer? I am glad you asked. Because PB is too good to be held off of the plate. Here are some steps to get curious on your relationship to this food.
Some Steps to reestablish your relationship to Nut Butters.
- Eat enough calories. Pound for pound this is really about making sure your energy needs are met for the energy you put out. This may challenge you, if so, there might be something to look at.Dig deep and give this a chance.
- Eat a variety of fats in your diet. Include sources throughout your day that are going to prevent alarm bells from going off later on that are going to leave you vulnerable for tapping into the well of goodness, with good intentions
- eat enough early in the day. Sorry to say ladies, but intermittent fasting may not be your ticket if you are struggling with these feelings around loss of control. We need enough fats to have healthy hormones.. our body wants to try and prepare for menstruation, child birth and well, just straight up stress. Eating throughout the day can help to mitigate the stress your body goes through, especially if you are restrictive in intake.
- Don’t villainize the food. Its not its fault, and more importunely…
- Its not yours either! Listen to your body it is trying to tell you something
- Think about how much you are exercising… maybe that extra push, is only making you a few steps closer to needing more, which again, sets you up to be in a vulnerable spot.
- become a detective, when it happens next, get a sense of going back in time, maybe even the last 48 hours and see where maybe you could have gone off track with your nutrition
- DON’T feel like it is forbidden food. If there is one thing i know, it is that feeling as though food is forbidden, only intensifies the desires to indulge. If you want to go without for a few weeks period to reset your system, that is always an option, but i strongly suggest at some point you try and keep it in and work through what your body is trying to tell ya
Lastly… enjoy your food. whenever or however it happens. I think there is value in trying to understand why we eat the way we do, and how or if we want to change it. Get curious, get compassionate and see what is going to help feed your soul and your bod just a little bit differently.
Peace love and PB