This is Part V in our Diet Mentality series (visit The CEDRIC Centre blog for immediate access to all articles in this series).
If you’re new to our community, welcome! You’ll fit right in here if you are an emotional eater, find that you binge, restrict, or struggle with anorexia, bulimia or some other stressful way of relating to food and want to learn how to stop.
All righty! In the past few weeks we’ve covered:
- The perils of both just arbitrarily restricting the amount of food you’re “allowed” to have regardless of your true hunger levels; and
- Of feeling obligated to eat what is placed in front of you – whether or not you like it and whether or not it is too much.
- We’ve also addressed the stress of labeling foods as good/bad legal/illegal and the nasty consequences of doing so.
- And last week we talked about what happens when we get stuck in rules about when we can eat rather than just listening to our body’s natural cues of hunger and fullness.
Whew! We’ve covered a lot already and we’re only about half-way through the key characteristics of The Diet Mentality. No wonder it’s such a quagmire and that we need guidance and support to find our way out! That’s what my team and I are here for. So read on and take another step toward the light.
This week’s Diet Mentality trait is a BIGGY!
You engage in all or nothing thinking regarding food and meals. Meaning:
You set strict goals and guidelines for yourself and if you waver from them at all or miss a step/day/meal you feel like a failure and make harsh judgements about your lack of willpower and inability to follow a plan.You’ll have thoughts like: The day is shot! May as well go for it!! I’ll start again tomorrow!
Followed by thoughts like: What a loser I am! I can’t even get a grip for one day! I’m always going to be stuck and feel crappy about my body and feel ruled by food!!!
ARgggggggggggg……anxiety levels rising…..depressed feeling growing…..need to numb out with food ……..(or drink or sleep or isolation or tv)….
You know you do!
Of course this judgement (aka the Drill Sgt. ‘motivation through criticism’) only serves to make you feel worse and leads you to need to numb and soothe yourself with food and then judge yourself more and redouble your efforts to restrict and stick to ‘the plan’ the next day.
Of course this is doomed to fail folks. No wonder you’re feeling so stuck and exhausted!
It is doomed to fail because you haven’t done anything between this day and the next to learn about what happened to trigger you to use food to cope and thus ‘fall off the wagon’ in the first place.
So why on earth is it at all rational to expect your behavior to change? Wishing doesn’t make it so. If it did you’d have achieved your goal years ago.
Not only that but you’ve also likely done nothing between yesterday and today to explore whether the expectations you set for yourself around food were reasonable and honouring in the first place. Did they at all correlate with your body’s needs for food for that particular day at that particular time? (See part IV of this series for more on that specific topic.) If not they were unreasonable and unrealistic goals that therefore were doomed to fail. And not because you lacked willpower – simply because they were unreasonable given the fact that you use food to cope. Until you learn why and solve the underlying issues that isn’t going change – it’s that simple.
Remember my fave quote from one of my fave authors Barbara Sher?
“When too many people fail a requirement there is nothing wrong with them, there is something wrong with the requirement.”
This is true for diets in general (See the first Diet Mentality article for more specific information on dieting statistics http://www.cedriccentre.com/blog/examining-origins-diet-mentality-%c2%a9/.) and it is also true for your day to day battles with food.
If you keep ‘failing’ at the goals you set for yourself around food and body image it’s quite likely, in fact it is a certainty, that it has nothing to do with willpower and everything to do with the fact that your expectations are unreasonable given that you use food and body focus to cope with stress and you have not yet learned to reduce your stress overall and manage day to day stressors in life-enhancing ways.
This is where we at CEDRIC come in! We’ll show you how to do both while learning how to relate to food in a peaceful and confident way. Those of you who are already clients or members of our web program know what I mean.
For this week’s homework how about starting with asking yourself:
What does a typical day with food look like for me these days? (Not what I wish it looked like but what it actually, typically looks like.)
And given that, what is truly reasonable for me to expect of myself if I don’t get new tools and learn new ways of understanding and managing my stress?
And given that, what goals am I reasonably able to set for myself for today/this week?
Start with that and know that it’s just that, a start. It’s not where you’ll always be – it’s just acknowledging the reality of where you are and working from there towards your desired outcome: A healthy, fit body and a peaceful, easy relationship with food.
You can do it!!!
And if you’d like to be able to expect more of yourself and your relationship with food faster, you are welcome to reach out for individual support, join our web program, or register for our transformative weekend workshop.
Reaching out for help is not a statement of failure it’s a statement of recognition that there’s more going on than meets the eye and that it is faster and easier to have an expert guide when traversing new territory.
Have a great week.