I know these secrets because I’ve long studied them. My husband and I have been friends for 31 years, dated for 20, and been married for 16. He has a thin brain. My youngest son is 14. He’s the same way. My oldest son and I have fat brains, but we’re molding them into skinny brains. I’m not saying the work’s done, but we’ve made some serious progress.
Here are five secrets I’ve learned from my anthropological research on Thin Brainers (TBs). Read them. Learn them. Breathe them into your DNA.
Thin Brain Secret #1: They know how to graze like cows. This is key. It’s intuitive. They eat little amounts all day long. And they seem to know what their bodies want and need. Like their bodies call them up and say, “Hey–Dude–wanna shoot me down some mango?” Or when they are eating dessert, they only eat a few bites because that’s all their body wants and they say things like, “It’s too rich.” I marvel at my son’s intuitive ability to know what his body needs and so try not to over-edit with my idea of what’s good for him and bad for him. I recognize his ability is evolved beyond mine and I don’t want to ruin it (not like we don’t pass down our weird food things or anything–ahem.)
Thin Brain Secret #2: In all things, moderation. Ugh. If I had a nickel for each time I have to hear my husband say this. I don’t excel at moderation. I’ve had to learn it. But TBs just live this way. Theirs are the plates at Thanksgiving that you can still see the plate shining up between the various foods. Imagine that. Have a piece of pie, don’t eat the whole pie. Don’t eat another one tomorrow. And the next day. There is no “cheating” in their world. There is no “diet.” You’ll never hear these words coming out of the TB’s mouth. It’s just how they live.
Thin Brain Secret #3: They don’t get overly excited by food. I remember dating a guy in Hermosa Beach named Wayne, a definite TB. One night he took me to the Cheesecake Factory in Redondo Beach. I ordered a pesto pasta dish with pine nuts (bonus secret: TBs never remember what they ordered) and when it came my eyes lit up in a way that made him say, “I’ve never seen somebody so excited about their food.” (His friends were obviously TBs, too!) Food is fuel. They eat to live–not vice versa.
Thin Brain Secret #4: They don’t post pictures of food on Facebook! Because they don’t get too excited about food (as if it were a newborn baby), you won’t see them taking pictures of their food and posting it on Facebook with comments surrounding it. Hardly ever. I can’t prove this one for sure, but I have a serious intuitive hunch based on my informal, longitudinal study. (Not gonna lie. String down my FB page for proof that I have not yet reached the Sensei stage of TB.)
Thin Brain Secret #5: TBs don’t associate every city and destination with restaurants. They go where they go. It’s more about food and price than “the event.” When I hit the 405 interchange in LA, I automatically start thinking about 4 star restaurants I love there. My husband thinks about traffic. Not food. Traffic. Adding on to this, they don’t give directions by food establishments: “you turn at the Sizzler and then drive down to Bucca di Beppo (have you tried their chicken parm?) and turn left…then drive past that vegetarian place with the best desserts….” You get the point.
Bonus Bonus Thin Brain Secret: They forget to eat. My husband has said to me many times that he was hungry and then got involved in something and forgot to eat. Forgot to eat? Are you kidding me? I can count on one hand the number of times this has happened to me. So I tried to forget to eat…and guess what? I DID IT! What my husband told me was that the hunger sensation will pass. It’s not forever. I didn’t know that because I made sure I was never hungry–like I had a fear of being hungry. Maybe if I was hungry I’d die or something. I’m not saying it’s rational. Let me reassure you, it passes, and I’m still alive to tell you it’s okay and doesn’t demand a double double with cheese.
Here’s what I say: study the thin brains in your life. They came into this world knowing a thing or two (thanks to their hard wiring–I’m sure of it) that Fat Brainers don’t. We are to learn from them, to study them, to copy their habits. We are to graze like cows, eat in moderation, don’t freak out and overeat if we get hungry, and be mindful of tieing emotions so tightly around chocolate chip cookies that they become one in the same.
Here’s what I know: we may not have been given TBs, but we can earn them. We must be mindful and as a wise client said recently, “We can’t turn our backs on ourselves for a second.”