This is Part X in our Diet Mentality series.
This series is my gift to you. The series will provide you with a clear, concrete sense of how your thinking about food and body image gets in your way. It describes what you can begin to do in each of the key Diet Mentality areas to begin to feel at peace within and comfortable in your skin.
Last week I asked you to consider your answers to some questions about clothing and body image.
What did you come up with?
I imagine you realized you have some pretty impossible expectations of yourself. Or at least, expectations that are preventing you from just feeling comfortable and doing what you’d like to do in your life at this time.
The story that you have to be anything other than what you are now in order to have comfortable clothing, get out there and do things, and be worthy of equal treatment is a very all or nothing and, therefore, paralyzing thought.
Inevitably it leads you to feel even more uncomfortable, more stuck and depressed. This naturally leads you to want to eat those foods that will numb and soothe you and, at least for a brief moment in time, make you feel a little better.
This naturally starts the cascade of self-judgement and shaming, spurring you into thoughts of restriction and maybe even another diet. This will leave you feeling more depressed and anxious and reaching, yet again, for that forbidden food.
I encourage you to keep in mind the fundamental truth that all lasting change starts with empathy: Understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing.
You’re not an imbecile. I’m confident of that. The fact that you focus so much on food and what you look like, suggests you must care. So it isn’t that either. So, you can stop giving yourself such a hard time and let go of the stories that you just can’t do it. Instead, how about you seek to understand what’s driving you. It isn’t hard to figure out with the right tools. And once you know what’s driving you it’s actually very simple to see what to do about it and to have the confidence and the energy to act on that knowledge.
To begin, the chemical/physical side of things as well as the psychological and emotional side of things need to be understood so that you know that there is a perfectly good reason:
- why you feel as you do;
- why you are behaving as you are; and
- that it has nothing to do with willpower, laziness. It is also not some great fundamental flaw in you that you can never change and must hide from the rest of the world.
Once you truly understand those 3 key facts about your relationship with food (or any other harmful coping strategy for that matter) it becomes natural to simply ask yourself what’s upsetting you or stressing you out whenever you notice you want to eat when you are not hungry or restrict yourself in any way.
It is not rational to criticize or condemn yourself and create greater shame and anxiety when you’re already clearly feeling overwhelmed and that is why you are reaching for food in the first place.
I penned an article a little while back about clothes and my favorite clothing exercise: the closet exercise. If you want to explore your relationship with clothes a little more I encourage you to read it.
If you want to explore recovery and a life that is free from food and body image stress for good, I encourage you to reach out to me and my incredibly skilled and supportive team. We’ll help you figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing and what to do differently to create the life you’ve always wanted.