Mostly everyone I know has a turbulent relationship with food. We’ve taken the pleasure out of eating, we’ve made eating a battleground of willpower and we’ve made food the enemy yet we can’t live without eating! If we have to do it, let’s make it enjoyable and stop fighting it.
There is no good or bad food – it’s just food. Yes, limiting or eliminating genetically modified, chemically enhanced and over-processed food is a wise decision but relegating food to enemy status isn’t an effective strategy to stop bingeing or overeating. Doing this mystifies food, makes it untouchable and we find ourselves wanting more because we want what we can’t have, right?
What if you decided to allow yourself to eat food freely, enjoy the act of eating and stopped beating yourself up about it? I suspect this is a VERY different strategy for most which is good because stigmatizing food hasn’t worked to decrease the rates of obesity in this country. It’s just made us crazy because we’re struggling against our most basic need as a human, it’s counter-intuitive. There is so much fear around eating the wrong food, following the wrong diet and gaining weight that we’ve scared ourselves out of nourishing our bodies and enjoying the eating experience.
This approach is only part of the equation when trying to achieve a healthy relationship with food but, once mastered, can be pivotal in maintaining a permanent change.
Jan Chozen Bays, MD in her book, “Mindful Eating” defines cellular hunger as signals from our body that tell us when to eat, when to stop and what to eat. She states, “If we are to return to a healthy and balanced relationship with food, it is essential that we learn to turn our awareness inward and to hear again what our body is always telling us about its needs and its satisfaction. To learn to listen to cellular hunger is the primary skill of mindful eating.” She further explains, “The body has its own wisdom and can tell us a lot about what it requires if we are able to listen. Unfortunately, as we get older we become deaf to what our bodies are telling us we need.”
Have you ever had a craving for salt or red meat? These cravings could be signals from your body telling you it needs salt or iron. Have you ever just needed to drink some water because no other liquid could quench your thirst? This could be a sign that you are dehydrated.
“The essential elements satisfy cellular hunger. These include water, salt, protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and trace elements such as iron or zinc.” In fact, many episodes of bingeing can be directly attributed to not having eaten the proper nutrition, or essential elements, throughout the day, like protein or healthy fat. These deficiencies are sneaky and often disguise themselves as cravings for junk food when your body is really calling for nutrients! Small tweaks in the diet to include more healthy protein or fat will usually curb binges or eliminate them altogether. Pretty cool, huh?
Do you tap into your cravings to see what they are telling you? Can you listen to your body to see what it TRULY needs and eat accordingly? This takes practice but is well worth it because it’s a pretty gentle way to achieve a positive relationship with food and maintain a healthy weight.
As a follow up to yesterday’s post…
We do need to find a way to re-frame the things we say to ourselves, however, before doing that, acknowledging the mean thought and being curious about it is the first step in practicing this. Sometimes it’s enough to be aware that you’re thinking mean things, the re-framing can come later.
Remember there’s no rush. When you look at it like this, it’s pretty simple, right?
Would you say the things you say to yourself to your child, spouse, best friend or parent? Consider this the next time you throw yourself under the bus with mean thoughts and comments. How can you “delete” these things from your consciousness?????
Tell me in the comments, they’re open for suggestions!
One of the most important things you can do to improve your relationship with food is to slow down while eating.
Ask yourself: are you a slow, moderate or fast eater? Are you eating like the turtle or the hare??? If the answer is the hare, concentrate on slowing down.
Do this by:
- preparing a nourishing meal
- setting the table
- sitting down with no distractions
- taking 5 calming deep breaths before eating and savoring (not rushing) through your meal
This has so many positive results like:
- being able to gauge your fullness throughout the meal to avoid overeating
- getting in tune with what your body craves food-wise
- improved digestion, metabolism and calorie burning
- experiencing pleasure from food instead of anxiety
- a healing effect that builds over time
I know, I know…you’re asking “how can I eat by myself and not watch TV”? You won’t know how until you try and I can almost guarantee that you’ll have such an enjoyable meal that you won’t want to go back to distracted eating ever again! Just remember the turtle ALWAYS wins the race!
For more information please check out the “Slow Down Diet” by Marc David.
What do negative thoughts, in this case, about body image or that perpetuate the belief that “I’m not good enough or deserving of love” get you? What’s the point of thinking them constantly when they only provoke feelings of self-loathing? We hold onto them because, on a deep soul level, we fear what releasing the negativity would mean. It would mean change, it would mean getting the life we’ve always desired and it would mean we’d be walking into the unknown. This unknown can be scary but so is the known where we are suffering. I don’t know about you but I’d rather venture into unknown territory with the potential to be amazing than stay in the known that is torturous. It all comes down to choosing your hard.
Day 2 was inspirational with more amazing and uplifting stories. We performed an exercise where we reflected on what was blocking our flow. Where in our lives are things not quite working out or what outcomes are just out of our reach? How are we putting up barriers to getting what we desire? Go to your peaceful spot, ask the question and see what comes up. This exercise is easier than you think but can have a profound impact on your life. Once you work through it, see how your life improves and how things finally start to head in the right direction. Feel like sharing what you uncover? I’ll be watching the comments with excited anticipation!
Greetings from Boulder, Colorado! The conference has been amazing so far with a lot of inspiring stories of those who have recently become Eating Psychology Coaches. There was also a lot of talk about the future of nutrition which is uncertain at the moment. Currently, the field is in chaos. The good news is that there is usually a period of chaos before a breakthrough. In the meantime, think about your own experience with deciding what to eat. How confusing is it? What research is believable? There is a lot of bad and skewed research and also great research but most is conflicting. The bottom line is to let your life, your values, your intuition and body wisdom drive what you eat. There is no easy answer. Eating is as personal and unique as your own individual style of dress. Get out there, explore and decide for yourself the best way to eat based on what TRULY nourishes you and feels good. Stay tuned for more from Boulder tomorrow!
Enjoy, live and love, M
Over the last few days, I have been thinking very negative thoughts about myself, my transformation and my weight. Part of this is hormonal but part of it is telling me something. The hard part is listening to the symptoms to figure out what. This is what those in recovery from an eating disorder mean when they say the path of recovery/transformation is not linear, it twists and turns and switches back on itself. I’m in switch back mode. My thoughts are reverting to those that are self-destructive and reinforce my belief that “I’m not good enough.” Most of the time, these thoughts are almost muted in my brain but, sometimes, like now, they become louder. The trick is to acknowledge them, know that they are temporary and toxic and that they are no longer my truth. My truth is that I AM transforming, I AM doing good things for my body, mind and spirit, I AM the only one who can approve of myself and make things OK just the way they are. I figured out that this is what my symptoms are telling me – they are reminding me that I am transforming and breaking out of my cocoon which is sometimes painful but worth every second.
To me, the word control has a negative connotation. One of the definitions of control, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “to have power over.” There are some instances where control is a good thing…like when operating heavy machinery but, in life and dealing with feelings or emotions, control is usually an illusion. We know we can’t control others (even children) and when we try to control ourselves, we become wound so tight that the pressure needs to be released somehow. The release is, especially for me, destructive and usually in the form of binge-eating. The need for control (and we all have it!) results in some type of struggle and can be exhausting especially when binge-eating is involved. Every tightly controlled diet and exercise program throws us binge-eaters into a binge. What would happen if we let go of the control? I bet we’d be surprised by the outcome. Let’s experiment – let go of the control for a couple of days and see what happens and please post your experiences! See you in the Comments!