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Wise Eating During the Holidays

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November 22, 2015

With Reggie Marra, MA, ACC & Dr. Joel Kreisberg, DC, ACC

Have a great holiday and join us December 2nd for Vital Conversations with Robert Kegan, Phd

Interview Transcript

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: Hi. I’m Dr. Joel Kreisberg, and I’m with my colleague, Reggie Marra, and today we’re going to talk about a topic that’s very relevant to the season, which is how do I manage my eating while I am home for the holidays, often with my family? And so, you know, this comes up a lot in the work that I do with my clients. We can be having a diet, feeling great, but all of a sudden, Thanksgiving comes, Christmas comes, and I end up being around a lot of really good food and a lot of family members, and it becomes stressful and a challenge.

REGGIE MARRA: Yeah. And, Joel, I grew up in an Italian-American family in New York, and we’d have holidays with Italian immigrants, first and second generation Italian-Americans and no lack of mostly women, grandmothers, mothers and aunts who would just cajole us to eat more. Mangia. Don’t you like my cooking? And so there was almost a guilt attached to not eating. And so it’s something I had to learn how to do as, the years have gone by to break out of that culture-based eating and family-based eating and just learn to eat for myself in a way that’s healthy.

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: So often this is a topic that comes up. I mean, we had a client this weekend in our clinic where we were talking about eating and the family. And so when we work as a coach, the first move to me it seems is gaining awareness. So what is gaining awareness? What do you mean gaining awareness?

REGGIE MARRA: Yeah. I think gaining awareness works in a variety of levels. A basic one would be a somatic awareness, becoming aware of our bodies, something as simple as when we’re actually full and satisfied. But the awareness goes beyond just the body and the intake of food and the sensation of fullness to the awareness of any familial or cultural or even time of the year stress-based reasons that we might eat. So the awareness takes in, I think, a variety of sources and of influences on how and how much we eat.

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: Yes, exactly. So there’s awareness of “I’m hungry, I have urges, I’m full,” but there’s also awareness of some of the underlying messages that go along with being around family. And that’s actually a big piece that we want to begin to start to notice, particularly around family. So I’m trying to think of how we’d describe this particular awareness.

REGGIE MARRA: I think it’s awareness of, first of all, that we do want to eat in a healthy way if we’re having this conversation and if somebody even is listening to this conversation, but I think the next awareness is something that Robert Kegan calls becoming aware of our hidden competing commitments. So besides being committed to eating well and staying healthy, what might be lurking in the background that we’re not yet aware of. And among those can be the cultural and familial and stress-based commitments that we hold. I don’t want to feel guilty with my family because they feel bad if I don’t eat.

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: Yeah, I was going to ask for examples. So when you’re aunt is saying, “You’re not eating enough. Could you eat more?” what commitment does that bring up in you?

REGGIE MARRA: A commitment to, first of all, from a younger age, to be obedient to my chronological superior or just a commitment to be loving, to be a good son or nephew or grandson and make my grandmother, my mother, my aunt feel good because I’m eating more and more of her food.

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: Yeah, exactly. I think another one is a commitment is to be grateful. And so partly the way we show gratitude is to, well, I love this. Who would say no to a second round if it’s – because that’s the way I show gratitude.

REGGIE MARRA: Sure, yeah. For sure.

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: So often then there are commitments that we’re not aware of that show up a lot during the holidays, and for many of us, it shows up around eating, which is why Robert Kegan and two of his colleagues have now written a book about this exact subject called…

REGGIE MARRA: Right Weight, Right Mind. And there’s a subtitle there, too, to actually read right from the book, The ITC, meaning Immunity to Change, Approach to Permanent Weight Loss. I’ll give you a quick look at the book here so you can see that. And the co-authors are Lisa Lahey, with whom Robert Kegan wrote the original Immunity to Change book and several others, and also Dr. Deborah Helsing, who has joined them on this particular endeavor.

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: Right. So we’re not here to spend a huge amount of time talking about the book because actually, we’re going to be talking with Robert Kegan on December 2nd at our Vital Conversations call. So the piece that we want to offer moving into this holiday is gaining awareness through understanding these hidden commitments. So how do I do this? What’s the step that I can do, Reggie, that would help? If somebody’s listening to this, what are they going to do to bring this into awareness?

REGGIE MARRA: Just to really ask themselves questions based on what we have been speaking about, given the assumption that we do want to eat in a healthy way, what is keeping me from doing that? Do I want to express my gratitude? Can I bring that into my awareness? Am I afraid of feeling guilt if I don’t eat? Is there pressure there? Am I feeding stress perhaps? So what’s the hidden part that keeps me from eating in a more healthy way? And just asking myself those questions can begin to unpack what it is that’s keeping me from eating better. Very often I’m afraid of what might happen. I’m afraid of feeling guilty if I don’t eat. So, usually, there’s a fear that leads us into this hidden competing commitment. But self-inquiry is the first step.

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: Yes. So basically, to put it in a single question, are there hidden commitments here? Or what is the commitment that I am not aware of by continuing to eat? So often we’re talking about the challenge of overeating or not being able to say, “No, I’ve had enough,” and recognize the physical sensations of stuffed. But for some reason, I’m overriding that awareness by continuing and what’s motivating that. And so if we could stop and take a breath and just say, “Is there a hidden commitment here?” and see what comes up. And from there, maybe you’re going to eat anyway, but if we can make some room in our holidays to start to notice what these hidden commitments are, we’ll have more of the ability to make healthier choices.

REGGIE MARRA: Yeah, I agree a hundred percent. I believe that this awareness may put a lot of, not all, but a lot of faddish diets out of business, just creating the awareness in our own way of eating and how we approach the table especially but not only during the holiday season.

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: Yes. So this is just a little tiny tip of the iceberg of the immunity to change work. And so we also invite you to come and join us for an extensive one-hour call with Bob Kegan. We’ll be able to hear, unpack the whole system because it’s a long – I shouldn’t say it’s long. It’s a full system that really allows you to unpack not only the hidden commitments but big assumptions that are going on in how we choose our food and then be able to make changes that are so deep that – well, it’s being very successful. So I’d like to invite everyone to join us for that call. What’s the date on the call, December 2nd?

REGGIE MARRA: Right, 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time, and we’re on this same platform. It will be a video call.

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: Right. So it will be Dr Robert Kegan, Reggie and myself. And if you want to sign up for that, just go to Teleosis.org, which is www.teleosis.org, and I hope to see you then. But between now and then, if you find yourself enjoying food and having a lot of big family around, just take a breath and notice if there are any commitments that you’re just not aware of and just waiting for you to notice.

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