A Naturally Thin Eater ~ 11 Observations


Andrea and Heidi at Muir Beach, October 2013

When you read this, my sister…my naturally thin sister…will be visiting with me. This year, I have had the opportunity to enjoy her company more than in the previous ten years combined!  I have no doubt that the visit that I have with her for Christmas will be filled with yet more lessons of what it is like to be an intuitive eater like her.

Whenever I am with Andrea, I learn something about how a naturally thin eater navigates the waters that are murky and challenging for me.

Some of the things I have learned from her are:

1.) A naturally thin eater doesn’t use a bathroom scale. Andrea has never owned a bathroom scale, yet when she goes to the doctor she is the same weight as she was 45 years ago (NO JOKE!).

vs. me…how many years did I struggle with letting an ever-changing number—if not on the bathroom scale then a pants size—determine my value, worth, “success?”

2.) A naturally thin eater doesn’t have “off limits” foods. Andrea typically likes to eat whole foods and vegetarian because of her conscience. She isn’t bound to rigid dieting laws, however. She bends and flexes according to her conscience in the moment. She and I have enjoyed decadent Mexican food, homemade pizza with lots of toppings, cheesecake, homemade ice cream sandwiches, hot fudge sundaes, and the list goes on and on.

vs. me…I often feel like I need to make some foods off-limits because I fear losing control. I want to grow up to be like Big Sister!

3.) There is virtually nothing that a naturally thin eater won’t taste and enjoy.

vs. me…I seem to feel like I “need” so much more than a “taste” of the foods I enjoy. I am eager to grow up in this respect, too.

4.) A naturally thin eater may choose not to have some foods in her house. This may seem to be contrary to item 2, but while she may not have these items in her house by way of routine, she can, on occasion, if she chooses. She just rarely chooses. To be honest, this one  surprised me, but apparently, my sister has, over the years, just decided there are some foods she doesn’t need to have access to freely. She doesn’t seem to miss those foods when they aren’t in her house. She doesn’t buy them and really never has.  That said, she had a king-size, organic, dark chocolate raspberry truffle candy bar in her cabinet last time I visited. She sucks half a chocolate rectangle…and makes the chocolate bar last for a couple of weeks or longer!

vs. me…If I have a chocolate bar in my house, I typically won’t stay out of it anytime I am hungry. It is likely to be gone within a day or two—at the most three. The last time I came back from my sisters, though, she gave me a chocolate bar of my own to “practice” her “techniques” with :-). It lasted 10 days!!! It is amazing how satisfying it was to eat it that slow. I was able to be grateful and mindful.

5.) Meal preparation is a big event for the naturally thin eater. I compared notes with my daughter on this one and it is true in her experience as well—Andrea does everything related to food (even shopping!) with care, focus, and time. She is mindful when preparing coffee, when peeling and cutting fruit, when stirring the yogurt, when toasting the bread. Everything is done with great intentionality. The eating of the meal is only part of the enjoyment for her. She truly takes a lot of time to prepare the food…even food that we wouldn’t ordinarily think would require that sort of time.

vs. me…I can’t prepare the food fast enough when I am hungry!

6.) It could go without saying, but a naturally thin eater eats very slowly. My big sister takes a bite of something and savors it just like the half-rectangle of dark chocolate I mentioned previously. I can say with relative confidence that she does this with all the food she consumes.

vs. me…I have always claimed to be a “texture” eater…thus the reason why I chew chocolate and, yes, even ice cream! But what is TRUE? What is TRUE is that a great deal of enjoyment can come by slowing down and sucking on the chocolate (for instance) or ice cream. By just allowing the entire experience to take a bit more time. 🙂

7.) A naturally thin eater removes the emotion from pre-meal preparation anticipation. Actually, I am not even sure how to categorize what I am talking about here. While Andrea enjoys food tremendously, she nevertheless refers to meals as “feedings.” She has asked me when I stay with her: “When do you want our next feeding to be?” I have given this some careful consideration and there is something about the term “feeding” that reduces the emotion behind anticipating a meal. What I mean is when I am hungry and actually preparing the meal, the emotions and joy are allowed to flow, but beforehand, referring to the next meal as a “feeding” seems to remove the emotion from the event, thus making it less about lust 🙂 and more about the needs of my body, if that makes sense. I am not as likely to pre-empt hunger. Maybe it is because I think of a “feeding” as something that is done for animals who require certain nutrients…not for recreational enjoyment of food! I know we aren’t animals, certainly, but I do think the term is helpful. When I think of “my next feeding,” I think in terms of what my body needs, instead of what my taste buds want.

vs. me…I sometimes get excited thinking about the next meal or the next time I get to eat. Sometimes, then I will eat before my body needs food. Using Andrea’s term of “feeding,” removes some of the super-charge from the anticipation.

8.) A naturally thin eater sometimes overeats, but doesn’t get upset about it.  It’s true! When I asked Andrea about the quantity I have seen her pack away on rare occasion 🙂 she reminds me that she doesn’t eat like that very often.  When she does, she doesn’t think much about it after the fact. She waits until she is hungry again and eats her normal portion size.

vs. me…I tend to beat myself up when I overeat. Or, in the past, I have tried to exercise to make up for overeating.

9.) A naturally thin eater eats sitting down at a table.  Andrea mentioned this to me during one of my recent visits. Although this is definitely one of the Keys to Conscious Eating, I nevertheless found it strangely reassuring that even a naturally thin eater sits for any “feeding” :-). It isn’t just a “rule” for me. It is wisdom. People, like my sister, who I admire for the way that food doesn’t own them, just take a load off to enjoy their food.

vs. me…I have been known to walk through the kitchen and mindlessly grab something. It seems like when I eat something standing up, it is likely that I am breaking my 0 to 5 boundary. Like it doesn’t count when I eat it standing! Sitting down, I own up to the moment being an eating occasion…even if it just a cookie. By sitting down, I slow down, am mindful, and enjoy the experience more. I am less likely to pre-empt hunger if I uphold this secondary boundary!

10.) Naturally thin eaters keep temptations that are present in their home wrapped up and put away out of sight. One of the reasons why the chocolate bar that Andrea gave me lasted so long was because I followed her advice…I wrapped it up and put it out of sight.

vs. me… In the past, I often left foods like cookies, brownies, etc, on the counter. The truth is, if it sits on the counter, I am likely to be reminded of it even when I am not hungry. Then it becomes more of a battle for me than it needs to be.

11.) Naturally thin eaters exercise for enjoyment and general feel-good health benefits, rather than out of fear. Andrea does Yoga and walks around her neighborhood. She does so because she enjoys it.

vs. me…over the years at various times, I have exercised out of fear or to make up for what I have overeaten!

How About You?

Can you adopt any of these practices? Do you have a naturally thin relative or friend? What other practices have you noticed are a part of their life?

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10 Responses to A Naturally Thin Eater ~ 11 Observations

  1. Karen K. December 26, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    I know just what you’re talking about, Heidi. Both my parents and my brother are naturally thin eaters. They had no concerns over the “Christmas feast.” On the other hand, I can’t say that I over-ate terribly yesterday, but I did have sweets that are not normally in my diet. So — I have suffered with a headache as a result. UGH! Eating slowly seems to be a big issue with me. I think it stems from all the days with 4 children in umpteen different activities and having to “eat on the fly.” They are all grown and out of the house now and I have not readjusted my eating to a slower manner. This will have to be intentionally worked on. Your comment about “feeding time” is interesting. I see your point — don’t make it an anticipated event. Just enjoy the event when it’s happening. As far as getting upset about overeating — I can get a bit mentally upset, but my body revolts during those occasions and makes it known that I have done the wrong thing. So — it’s actually a bit out of my control!
    I hope you have a great time with your sister. I don’t have a sister, so I can’t relate too well — but I have 2 daughters and love seeing them laugh and talk together. God bless!

    • Heidi Bylsma December 27, 2013 at 8:05 am #

      Hi, Karen. I had a great time with her. I noticed that she enjoyed a variety of sweets that I know she doesn’t ordinarily. I found out that one of the foods that she doesn’t have in her home is peanut butter. She says she won’t stop eating it! LOL! So, she came to my house and enjoyed having peanut butter on toast for part of a breakfast. I have no doubt that, in spite of having foods that she doesn’t ordinarily have, she is picking up today with “business as usual” instead of the self-flagellation which is so common to many of us. 🙂

  2. Beth December 26, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    Heidi,thanks for sharing these characteristics in one spot. As I’ve been following your blog, and reading “Thin Within” and “Hunger Within”…I signed up for your online class. I appreciate your no nonsense approach and how you dive into God’s word.

    As I was reading this list it occured to me that I was at one time a naturally thin eater. What an eye opener for me…and then I felt shame that I had succumbed to lies and trusted food more than God for comfort, etc. I’m thankful though that God is really “doing a new thing” in my life and I’m looking forward, with hope, to see what He will be teaching me in the online class in this area that needs growth in my life.

    Thanks again for investing in others…even ones like me, who you’ve never met.

    • Heidi Bylsma December 27, 2013 at 8:15 am #

      God IS doing a new thing! So glad that you see this! It is a joy to get to share life with you, Beth, and others like you. 🙂

  3. Marjie December 26, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    I’m curious, Heidi….my husband is also a thin eater. Because we are broken (sinful) people, his brokenness (sinfulness) shows up in rage at inanimate objects and himself. My brokenness shows up with regard to food. How does your sister’s brokenness manifest itself? We all are in need of a measure of God’s grace so I am supposing it shows up somewhere because she came from the same family as you did and she is human. Thoughts?

    • Heidi Bylsma December 26, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

      Oh it definitely does! ‘Nuff said. 🙂

  4. Beth December 26, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    It’s amazing how such simple habits can really make a difference and it makes me wonder how we come to adopt such unhealthy ways of eating. The first time I remember thinking I don’t eat like others do (and it should have been a major red flag for me) was when my now-husband and I were at a county fair. We were headed to get something to eat and we met up with a friend he knew from school. He asked if she wanted to join us and she replied that she had already eaten but thanks anyways. What?!?! I could not relate!

    • Karen K. December 26, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

      I agree, Beth. Our American culture is very overindulgent in many areas. I wonder if some of it doesn’t stem from the Civil War and the Great Depression. I know my grandmother (who is no longer alive) was a young wife and mother during the depression. I can remember her saving “3 peas” in a little dish in her refrigerator, because she would never waste anything, having gone without many times in her past. We may have developed this attitude of “cleaning our plate” and not wasting anything because of these 2 event in our history. And — we tend to always celebrate with food, don’t we? Every celebration is centered around the dinner table and a feast! We have this concept of the pilgrims with an over abundance of food in thanksgiving. Not so! They really had very little from what I hear. It’s hard to break this cycle when it is a national problem and we’re surrounded by it.

  5. Mary Anne Endeman January 3, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    Heidi, I am just now getting caught up with your blog posts as my husband and I had the flu or some nasty bug over Christmas. First time ever that there was no Christmas dinner in our house—and we survived! 🙂 Anyway, I can relate so much to this post. I am going to go over it again and really pray that God will help me get my focus off food so much and try to “practice” being a naturally thin eater. The other day our dog turned up missing, probably because of the New Years Eve “booms”. So all New Years day I spent it looking for her—we live surrounded by miles and miles of rice & almond fields, so I walked a lot of the day when I wasn’t in the car looking for her. I couldn’t even think of eating and I realized later that yes, a part of it was because I was so upset over her being missing, but then food was the last thing I wanted to think of. My husband tried to get me to eat some lunch and I just said I wasn’t hungry. Even after we found her at a neighboring ranch, (yayyyyyy!), I noticed I still didn’t feel focused on food. I was finally able to fix our Christmas dinner yesterday and I was happy to just eat a normal portion. I pray that I can keep it up and I’ve signed up for the class. So excited to be a part of it!

    • Heidi Bylsma January 4, 2014 at 7:01 am #

      Oh, Mary Anne! I am so glad you found your sweet dog. And glad you experienced a season of what it is like not to be controlled by food. Isn’t that a gift? That is what it is like when we are healed…or perhaps, anyhow. I am glad you are joining us for this class. I am convinced there will never be anything quite like this! LOL!

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