So yeah, he was able to answer some of my questions and I wanted to share them all with you today! Enjoy!
"Women in our culture are infected with a deep sense of: I'm not good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, lovable enough. These toxic beliefs are way worse than any junk food we put into our bodies.” - Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating
Tell me a little bit about you. Where you grew up, what life was like as a child and what brought you into the field of eating psychology? You're so passionate about what you do, and I always wonder what made you feel this way. What life experiences have sparked your interest in this career path?
My food story began when I was a newborn. Remarkably, my earliest memory is being rushed to a hospital when I was 5 days old. I was having an asthma attack. I almost died. From there, I was on a 12-year journey with intense asthma and allergies that no doctor could help. I was so determined to be able to breathe normally and to play and run like other kids, that I decided to take matters into my own hands. So I changed my diet at age 5—I asked my mom to buy apples and canned vegetables because I thought that would make me healthy. Oddly enough, or maybe just a coincidence - my health improved, and thus began my lifelong fascination with the healing power of food.
You have a wonderful appreciation and respect for women in general. You work with a lot of female clients and coach them through binge eating problems, emotional eating, weight issues and even disordered eating. Many women feel ashamed of eating when they are hungry. Succumbing to eating makes many women feel weak over other women who have "more willpower." How might women handle these feelings of powerlessness, control and shame? What are your approaches to helpingthem?
One of the biggest struggles women face with nourishing themselves is that they’ve generally been taught and conditioned to disapprove of their looks and their essence in the first place. From there, everything is an uphill battle that can never be won. Women in our culture are infected with a deep sense of “I’m not good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, loveable enough.” Ouch. These are toxic beliefs that are way worse than any junk food we put into our bodies. The bottom line for women and appetite is that they need to get the toxic belief out of their minds that appetite is the enemy. Appetite is our best friend. Evolution has designed us to be eaters, and appetite helps make it so. Appetite is a form of “desire”, and desire is good. If you try to suppress appetite, you’ll likely be suppressing other forms of desire and pleasure as well. Our appetite is naturally regulated when we eat nourishing food, eat it slowly and sensuously, and receive pleasure and satisfaction from our meal. No amount of artificial control can ever have a positive outcome when it comes to healthy weight and appetite.
Furthermore, we need to get real and honest and bold when it comes to the media. We are being programmed with the most toxic thoughts and beliefs when it comes to body and weight and self-image. We are being spoon-fed intellectual poison. The girls of our culture need to be protected as much as possible, for as long as possible. They need to be taught the difference between healthy sexuality, and the unhealthy kind. They need to be told they’re okay, they’re wonderful as they are, and they need to hear it every day, and many times. Fight fire with fire. Fight the constant barrage of negative messages from the media with a constant barrage of positive ones from parents. If you want to change the culture, you can. Just do it in the comfort and within the walls of your own home. That’s the place you can impact the most. Finally, we need to realize how isolated we are as a culture, as families, as parents, as mothers - and isolation generally leads us into unhappiness and stagnation. Connection is everything. It’s not about willpower or competition. We all need to be nourished and taken care of. Be it mothers needing the support of other mothers, or any women who understand them and want to reach out in the spirit of sisterhood. Who are the mothers or friends with cooking knowledge? Who is jazzed about going for a leisurely lunch or hike? Who can we call upon for support? How can we create strong and healthy relationships? Have we tapped the resource of our families? Our friends? Community? Sometimes, I find the only way to “freshen up” is with some outside inspiration and help.
Why do you think we attach a moral value to food? How do you make people understand that a particular food is neither "good" nor "bad"?
Many people follow their healthy diet so they can be healthy. Sounds sensible. Others eat a good diet so they can have oodles of energy, or endurance, or strength, or a slender body. I’d like to suggest that this isn’t always enough. The field of nutrition has become a bit religious. It tells us to follow its’ commandments devoutly, piously, and if indeed we do adhere to our dietary system perfectly, there’s a feeling that we’re somehow good boys and girls – clean, holy, and assured of a place in nutritional heaven. I’m still surprised how so many people are on a “health crusade.” Of course, some foods are clearly health promoting and others are clearly toxic. We simply need to make sure we don’t punish ourselves every time we eat a so-called “bad food”. That’s a totally useless strategy. We need to relax more into the chaos of eating healthy in a toxic world. For sure, I love health, I practice it as best I can, and teach about it with a lot of passion. But I’m suggesting that good health and long life is not enough. So what if you live to be a healthy 100 years old – yet you’re a total jerk. The people around you would rather have you dead a long time ago. Health by itself doesn’t always have meaning. Humans need a reason, a purpose for being here, alive, on planet earth. So what if you spend a ton of energy sculpting a skinny body. What else is happening in your life? What’s your skinny body for? What gift are you here to give others? Is your life purpose simply to eat vegetarian, or raw food, or low calorie, or macrobiotic? A healthy body is a grace. Are you willing to use it to give back to the world? Can you see that the body is meant to serve a deeper and more beautiful purpose in the world that’s more than just being pretty, skinny or healthy?
What's your advice to busy people who seem to have no time to really savor their food?
Humans are simply not biologically wired for high speed eating. So when we do eat fast, the body once again enters the physiologic stress response, which results in decreased digestion, decreased nutrient assimilation, increased nutrient excretion, lowered calorie burning rate, and a bigger appetite. The bottom line is that you can literally empower your nutritional metabolism simply by slowing down. What’s fascinating is that for many fast eaters, slowing down is quite a challenge. But try this – don’t just eat slow – eat sensuously, feel nourished by your food, and take in all the sensations of your meal. In other words, my advice is: be willing, for your sake, to make time. We can always find an extra 5 minutes to breathe, check in, relax and savor life…
What's your advice for improving body image?
The single best way I know of to improve body image is to get back into your body. The main reason we disapprove of the form life has given us is that we haven't quite figured out how to actually inhabit it.
Embodiment heals body image. Embodiment means anything that gets you out of the dangerous neighborhood called "your head" and into the much more interesting turf called your body. Embodiment can mean dance, yoga, singing, movement, Pilates, hiking, swimming, walking, a massage, touch, sex, beauty care, nourished eating, nature, riding a horse - whatever helps you feel happy to be alive on planet Earth. Most people want to change their body so they can have a better body image. But haven't you met women who might have society's definition of the perfect body, yet they still live in self-rejection? A perfect body guarantees us nothing when it comes to loving what we've got. You can only love your body in a lasting and deep way from the inside out. Loving your body is not a promise that's fulfilled in the future. It's a verb you act on in the now.
Thank you Marc David again for taking the time to provide some wonderful information!! I have always been a follower of Marc's and I invite you to check out his books and website for more information.