Why do people do the opposite of what is helpful even though they know better? Saying yes when you really want to say no is a common obstacle among waist watchers. I know, I’ve been there! Contemplating this, I came up with the two most important “unspoken rules” that French women taught me, that not only helped me lose weight, but more importantly, to keep it off. These two simple life skills, once mastered, make weight management and WHOLE lot easier. The two unspoken “rules” I’m talking about are:
- They know how to WAIT for hunger
- They have no problem saying NO
Let’s take a look at each one so I can explain.
Learning to wait is tres importante. From as early as the crib, French babies are trained to wait (ie. cry, get frustrated and given the opportunity to self-soothe) before being attended to. This means they are well trained early on to master essential life skills – patience and the ability to self-soothe without food.
Training babies to wait for meals teaches them that it is OK to feel their tummies growl and to tolerate the frustration of feeling hungry while they wait to be fed. In France meals are scheduled from as early as 4 months old. And because food is not used as a reward or bribe outside of those mealtimes, less emotional eating habits develop.
When it comes to weight management, learning to wait for meals and tolerate the feeling of hunger is a skill that is worth strengthening. In our “instant gratification” world, waiting is a virtue. Truth is some of us don’t even know what hunger feels like because we’re terrified of it. If the aim of eating is satisfaction, then it makes sense to learn to wait for hunger, as we know that food tastes best when we are authentically hungry.
Awareness and intention is the first step to developing the “waiting” habit. Simply scheduling your meals every day will strengthen your ability to wait. Like any skill, competence and confidence comes from practise and experience. Next time you have the urge to reach for a cookie or candy outside of meals, practise delaying the gratification and having it with your meal. This way eating is based on authentic hunger rather than an emotional impulse.
The second “rule” is to practise saying no. Why do we have such problems with saying no? Is it because we don’t want to upset or disappoint people? Believe me; the French don’t worry so much about upsetting someone if they’re not hungry. Practise saying no when you want to say no. Give up being a people pleaser. Saying no doesn’t just apply to food, but to any obligation you don’t have room for in your life.
Or is the inability to say no because we don’t know what we want? Practise pinpointing what foods you adore, develop food standards, so that if you are offered something that doesn’t thrill you, declining is easy. For example I only like certain brands of chocolate, so now I if I’m offered something that I don’t love, saying no is a breeze. So if you love it, savour it, if you don’t, say “no thank-you”, politely and you won’t feel sad or deprived. It’s only when you allow yourself to have choices that you can begin to be choosy.
Or is it simply easier to say yes and deal with the ramifications later? Saying yes when you really mean no will get you in to trouble, especially with your weight. So if you need to, PAUSE before you answer or perhaps ask for time to think it over. For example, if offered a donut mid-morning at work, you could simply say “Not right now, I’ll let you know if I want one later, thank-you”.
Knowing how to wait for hunger and say no to food outside of meals will save you hundreds of calories and give you the slimmer figure you crave while still enjoying the foods you love. Try it for a week and let me know how you go!