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TOPIC: How normal, thin people eat.

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February 14, 2013 5:39 PM
From observing the so-called "naturally thin" people I know, I've noticed several distinct differences about how they eat compared to how I have for most of my life (during which my weight has yoyo-ed back and forth between 102 and 130 pounds), and how most chronic dieters eat.

1. They don't count calories or even pay attention to them. One of my skinny girl friends (who I used to think just had a "really fast metabolism & ate whatever she wanted" until I started actually paying attention to her habits) looked over my shoulder one day while I was punching in my calories for lunch & said "ew, why are you counting calories". I actually felt pretty stupid, because here's someone who's as thin as I could only dream to be, & she doesn't even go to the extents that I do in order to have the body she does. It also got me thinking about BMR's and TDEE's, and how lots of people on here say "NEVER GO BELOW BMR" etc etc. But I know for a sure fact that many thin people I know go days where they don't eat even up to that much. & they also have days they eat more, so I'm sure it balances out. But to exactly their TDEE or even close? I'd doubt that for some of my friends. They just don't pay attention to numbers. & some of my especially tiny Asian friends seem perfectly content eating small amounts pretty much daily.

2. They only eat when they're hungry & they know when to stop. They naturally eat small portions. I used to never be able to understand how my friends & I could go to Burger King & they could get a whopper & medium fries and throw it away after eating just a little more than half. I was raised to never throw food away, and that I was only finished eating when my plate was empty. For that reason, I've often been known to finish off entire plates of restaurant entrees (which we all know could serve 2 or 3 people) or as much as I could stomach, literally eating till I felt sick. I've been known to eat entire packages of cookies in a night, or 6 slices of pizza. Thin people know when to stop, even when they've eaten just a fourth of their meal. Two slices of pizza is always enough, or even one and a half. Throwing food away, or taking the rest to go & eating the leftovers over the next few days is pretty much second nature for them. Even with sweets, somehow its so easy for them to eat half a candy bar and put the rest away for later. For most of my life, sweets have been something I was never able to just enjoy in small quantities.

3. They don't place any moral labels on food, & they seem to lack any emotional attachment to it. As in, they won't say things like "omg this is so bad for me" when having pizza or something. They'll just enjoy it. They'll eat ice-cream with no guilt. And they don't use food as a way to cope with emotions or eat purely for fun. If they're hungry, they eat. If they're not, they don't. They'll eat sweets but they won't eat them till they're sick, nor will they lock themselves in their room with a box of oreos & not leave until they're finished.

Basically, they don't obsess over food. Food is nourishment for them, that's it. Even when its something decadent, they know when to stop. They don't stuff themselves till discomfort. & now that I actually think about it, that's completely different from how I've eaten for like the past 10 years. I frequently stuff myself just because its there & I feel inclined to eat it. I have a huge emotional attachment to food at times, & I do eat out of stress or boredom. I also label some foods as "bad" or "good" & even feel scared of events where there's "bad" food that may "tempt" me.

I'm obsessed with calorie counts & food labels & although that stuff is important, I'm starting to feel like it's not necessary to actively count and monitor them just to lose weight. I feel like if I would just stop eating for any reason besides hunger, & learn to start controlling my portion sizes & enjoying my food instead of obsessing over every calorie, I could become & stay thin without putting in nearly as much effort as I do now.
February 14, 2013 5:43 PM
I know I'm not ready to stop counting calories or start eating those trigger foods again because I know it won't work for me right now if ever.

But I totally agree with your observations on naturally thin people, especially their willingness to take food home or throw it away. They are definitely not members of the clean plate club.
February 14, 2013 5:46 PM
I agree that naturally thin people do not obsess over food and eat to keep their bodies going. Sure, they don't count calories all day because their bodies know when to stop. Overweight people need to count calories (at least initially) because they don't know what a normal day looks like. They could easily eat 4000 calories a day or more and think nothing of it. We need to count calories because we need something tangible to see that tells us "okay, it's time to stop for the day."
Edited by Suewags On February 14, 2013 5:46 PM
  7490192
February 14, 2013 5:47 PM
Hi Angie - I totally agree with what you have observed as I have seen the same things too. A really great book I read is called "Beyond Chocolate" by Sophie and Audrey Boss - they're English but have basically been looking for the answers too - and come to the same conclusions as you - the main key is being conscious when you're eating rather than just putting it in and observing how your body feels rather than just stuffing it. They also talk about "food myths" we have developed due to upbringing or whatever - like you must finish everything on your plate or it's a waste - your body is not a dust bin!!!
Anyway - if you get a chance have a look - it's a great book and has really helped me.
Becks
February 14, 2013 5:48 PM
guess i'll never be "thin", then. 1.5 slices of pizza is not/ should not be considered a meal.
  21916824
February 14, 2013 5:49 PM
There's a great book called *Intuitive Eating* that goes over those ideas and coaches you through adopting them....
  6131563
February 14, 2013 5:51 PM
First of all..girl, you're a good writer, that was so easy to read and informative!

Second of all, it makes so much sense. I figure it's sorta' like "positive thinking" (think positive and positive things will happen) But in this case, not stressing about calories and guilt when it comes to food leads to a healthier self, emotionally AND physically.

It's a good way of thinking, but like you said, depending on how you're raised, the trait doesn't come naturally. I believe it can be learned though, why not? : )
  31954734
February 14, 2013 5:51 PM
I'm just going to object to your use of normal in the title.

It's just metabolism and it comes with it's own challenges.
  37810607
February 14, 2013 5:51 PM
i noticed the eating habits of my friends growing up and it was like this..

1. didnt eat many whole foods
2. ate very slow
3. could go hours without eating because they didnt think about food
4. lived relatively active lifestyles
5. didnt eat large portions.

i was a chubby kid.. i did opposite of many of these.


to truely have a FAST metabolism you would have to know how many calories you ate in a day and that number has to be consistant yet body fat levels would be relatively low for someone eating in excess..

ultimately many skinny people dont have FAST metabolisms, they either dont eat a lot, and/or they are very active... and for many who say "oh yeh my friend eats a lot and still doesnt gain weight" do you really watch them eat every meal of every day? cant assume that a couple large meals and they have a fast metabolism... much like doing IF without even trying.
Edited by monty619 On February 14, 2013 5:57 PM
  18466206
February 14, 2013 5:52 PM
My father-in-law used to say there are people that live to eat and there are people that eat to live. I think naturally thin people tend to eat to live.
February 14, 2013 5:54 PM
QUOTE:

guess i'll never be "thin", then. 1.5 slices of pizza is not/ should not be considered a meal.


This.
  14236348
February 14, 2013 5:55 PM
QUOTE:

My father-in-law used to say there are people that live to eat and there are people that eat to live. I think naturally thin people tend to eat to live.


Yeah this.
My boyfriend who is naturally thinner doesn't crave food like I do. Like when I feel hungry I'll feel hungry for something. He just feels hungry. His mom (who he gets his metabolism from) takes medication to keep herself from passing out, she struggles to eat enough to maintain her weight.
  37810607
February 14, 2013 5:56 PM
My mom is one of those naturally thin people, and although she has a soft spot for chocolates, she never obsesses over food, never says things like" I am in the mood for XXX", in fact, she might even forget to eat. She tends to have small meals throughout the day and the main thing is she eats veeeeeery slowly.
  30777053
February 14, 2013 5:57 PM
I disagree. I was a thin person until I was about 40. I ATE A LOT. More than most people I knew, no matter what their size, male or female. And I was always interested in thinking about where my next meal was coming from.
February 14, 2013 5:57 PM
I think that when you get to a certain point, like when you like to eat healthy 85% of the time and sometimes eat unhealthy without even guilt (and you are about 10 lb away from goal), you can definitely stop counting calories. The reason I count calories is bc I am so busy with my kids, that I wouldn't even notice half the things or the portions sizes of what i'm eating without mfp. I eat because I am hungry, but it helps to know how much protein I am eating and how many carbs bc I am that active a person. There have been times that I have just not been motivated or I've been too busy to track for a bit and I will just eat my usual way and sometimes indulge a little, but then a month later step on the scale and find out I've lost another 3 lb without even thinking of it. Counting calories helps most with people that don't know the nutritional value of food. If you know how to eat balanced proportioned meals, you really don't have to track!
  1155981
February 14, 2013 5:58 PM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

My father-in-law used to say there are people that live to eat and there are people that eat to live. I think naturally thin people tend to eat to live.


Yeah this.
My boyfriend who is naturally thinner doesn't crave food like I do. Like when I feel hungry I'll feel hungry for something. He just feels hungry. His mom (who he gets his metabolism from) takes medication to keep herself from passing out, she struggles to eat enough to maintain her weight.


if your metabolism is fast.. you will crave food all of the time... you just wont get fat as easily.
Edited by monty619 On February 14, 2013 5:59 PM
  18466206
February 14, 2013 6:00 PM
Yeahh a lot of your points make sense!

But I swear.. some of the naturally thin people I know would eat at tdee or above, from my observation!!
February 14, 2013 6:02 PM
QUOTE:
I'm obsessed with calorie counts & food labels & although that stuff is important, I'm starting to feel like it's not necessary to actively count and monitor them just to lose weight. I feel like if I would just stop eating for any reason besides hunger, & learn to start controlling my portion sizes & enjoying my food instead of obsessing over every calorie, I could become & stay thin without putting in nearly as much effort as I do now.


I think you're right about this. The idea is not only to lose weight but to learn how to make healthy choices and stay in a frame of mind that you can maintain for the rest of your life. I don't think this means counting calories forever. Lately now that I've lost and maintained the loss for a while, I take time on and off from tracking calories and even from the diet in general, just trusting my instincts to eat around maintenance for a few weeks, then coming back to the counting when I feel like I need a little reinforcement. I've been doing this for around 14 months now and been able to stick with it pretty consistently because I give myself some breaks and some flexibility to allow what I'm learning in this process to really sink in and stick with me.
February 14, 2013 6:02 PM
Most normal "thin" people's weights fluctuate on a day to day, week to week basis.

They eat intuitively; some days they eat more, some days they eat less. You don't notice the weight change and they stay "thin" because it all balances out.
February 14, 2013 6:03 PM
I travel a lot for work and when I see someone in my age bracket or older who is very trim I always ask them what they do.

90% of those people tell me it's genetics.

Since my genetics tend toward the "short and squat" as evidenced by my aunties, I wouldn't put much stock in what these naturally thin people do or eat. Instead, I do what has worked for me.
  15346377
February 14, 2013 6:04 PM
I thought you were going to say diet pepsi and cigarettes.
February 14, 2013 6:05 PM
Lots of good points. But I've been overweight my whole life. I don't have the hunger cues most people do. I only feel full if I eat waaay too much, so calorie counting is the only way I can know when to stop.

I see it as a life-long illness. If someone has diabetes, they have to take their medication every day to manage it. Well, I'm prone to obesity so I''ve accepted that for the rest of my life, I'm calorie counting.
February 14, 2013 6:07 PM
Interesting! Most of the thin people I know do seem to think of food as an afterthought. As Monty pointed out, they don't eat many whole foods. I see a lot of convenience foods and even things like pizza or chips but just in pretty small quantities. In fairness though, when we're hanging out its less likely we'd ALL be sitting around eating grapefruit halves than having party food. I have a few thin friends who do seem to abide by the principals of healthy eating, whole foods. I have thin friends who workout somewhat regularly but most do not really exercise at all.

The more diet books I read and the more years pile up that I have been part of the "dieting culture" the more mind-boggling (and to me discouraging) it is.
February 14, 2013 6:07 PM
Let's aspire to be normal!
February 14, 2013 6:08 PM
#3 is the only one that applies to the only skinny girl I know. She eats everything. She eats double me easy. She once ate the entire menu of Taco Bell in front of me, didn't gain a pound.
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