A few weeks ago, I gave a presentation at the Victoria Health Show entitled: Practical and effective tools for overcoming emotional, psychological and physical barriers to optimum health.
Yes, quite the mouthful, but….interestingly enough it was the most well-attended talk I’ve ever offered in my 10 years of Health Show lecturing. Things that make you go, hmmmmm.
Obviously one reason for the increased attendance is that the topic is broader than my usual “Food is not the Problem: Deal With What Is!” educational presentation. But based on the feedback I received after the lecture and in the weeks that have followed, I am quite clear that the real reason for the greater turn out were the words “overcoming” and “barriers.”
People know they’re stuck. They know when they’re not doing what’s best for them or making the most honoring choices. We all get that niggly sensation in our bellies and hear from our beloved Drill Sgt. when we even think about doing something that some part of us believes is not in our best interest. And yet, until we learn the secret of why we do what we do, coupled with some simple tools to begin to behave differently in the present moment, we stay stuck. Like observers on the sidelines at a golf tournament, we watch the ball gently circling the hole, a hair’s-breadth away from going in and winning our favorite player the match. We could practically blow it in with a single sigh and yet we must watch as it stays above ground and yet again our fave goes home with the “almost, but not quite” badge. Frustrating! Annoying! Powerless…
It is painful to know what you need to do, even what you want to do, and yet witness yourself doing something else entirely.
This is the plight of many millions of men and women in North America alone who have health concerns that could be greatly aided by eating well and exercising moderately but who, day-after-day, witness themselves choosing foods that harm rather than heal. Heart disease, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, hormone imbalances, anxiety, depression, and even dementia to name just a few common health concerns are all greatly impacted positively and negatively by the foods we consume and by the amount of rest and exercise we get on a daily basis.
Many of these issues can completely be remedied with changes to what we eat or at the very least, in many cases people can often manage their symptoms without medication through “proper” self-care. But, if you’ve got a health concern like any of those listed above, or if your Doc has suggested some changes to your diet and exercise routine to stave off any of the above, you’re likely well aware of the things that help you and hinder you. But…if you use food to cope, you also likely see yourself making choices you know you’d rather not make and feeling more frustrated and despairing with each passing day.
We know the obvious question: How do you stop using food to cope? In the case of health concerns, the real question becomes how to navigate the dichotomy between:
Not labeling foods as good or bad in that old, harmful diet mentality way
Making choices to not eat certain foods or to greatly limit their intake, without feeling restricted and thus triggering the diet mentality and the desire to binge!?
It’s actually not as much of a dichotomy as it might seem, thankfully! We just need to orient our heads towards approaching food from an “esteem” place ie. “self-care” rather than from a coping place. Which means we need some tools for dealing with our past, present and future stressors without food and we need to be able to attend to ourselves, in the moment, in ways that truly do meet our needs for nurturing, support, reassurance and validation (which is usually what it is we’re looking for in eating when we’re not hungry or in restricting or purging).
The trick is not to focus on what you’re wanting to eat or what you’ve just eaten but instead inquire as to “why?”
Most likely one of three things has occurred if you’re making a choice to eat something that you’re not hungry for or that you know is not in your best interests given your health concerns:
- You’ve just slipped into some “learned helplessness” thinking such as:
- What difference will it make?
- I’ll never be able to stick to any changes anyway!
- I want it now, I’ll make a different choice tomorrow! (We all know how this will go!)
- Even if I take better care of myself from here on in, the damage is done so why bother? Why not just let go and “enjoy” myself!?
- It’s too hard!
- It’s too much work!
- I can’t!!!
- You’re feeling anxious or stressed about something that’s happening in your life or something you were just thinking about from your past or imagining in your future and the certain foods you’re reaching for provide you a sense of nurturing and release because they are processed, refined carbohydrates or sugars and they are engineered to trigger a sensation that mimics that of Oxytocin release (the hormone released when we feel nurtured, safe and pleasured as with breast feeding or orgasm). Yes, those processed refined carbs that most of us feel drawn to eat even though we know they trigger all sorts of ills, draw us in because of the sensation of soothing they provide our anxious, lonely selves.
- You’re carrying an old, unconscious story that you are undeserving of care; that you are undeserving of optimum health and wellness and of being the best you can be. Or even worse, that caring for yourself is a burden rather than a gift and a pleasure. These are old bogus stories which you most likely learned by watching key people in your life “care” for themselves or by hearing hurtful messages from key people about the “burden” of caring for you.
You see, there is always a reason why you do what you do. It’s not that you’re weak or that you lack willpower. It’s that either you’re seeking a sense of soothing or nurturing or that you’ve told yourself you’re a hopeless case and not to bother trying or that you’re not worthy of care, or all of the above.
There are some very simple solutions to these ways of thinking and once you free yourself of them you are completely free to make honoring choices from a place of “choice” truly, rather than from a place of “have to,” “burden,” “restriction.” It’s a completely different mindset, feeling and energy around making choices that lead to a healthier, longer life. It is self-perpetuating. And the best part is, it doesn’t feel like work, it feels goooood!
So, if you’re in a place of having to make some changes to your diet and self-care routine to stave off grave health concerns or to diminish the impact of certain symptoms ie. high blood sugar, give yourself the gift of gathering a few simple tools to shift your thoughts and feelings about yourself and about your ability to be successful. Overcome that old “learned helplessness” and you’ll find yourself in a completely new world where self-care truly is a pleasure.
There are many ways you can gather those tools depending on you and your favorite learning style. Our web program, CDs, DVDs, workbooks, book, individual counselling, workshops or intensive healing retreats are all options available to you to completely let go of your old, confounding approach to food and to life.
Have a great week!
Whether you prefer one-on-one counselling (in-person, by phone, or email), our intensive and transformative workshops, the self-help approach with the book, or our Food is Not the Problem Online Membership Program, take action today to have a stress-free relationship with food. Sign up for our free newsletter today (see the left top side of your screen). Newsletter subscribers receive exclusive product discounts and are first in line to get on all the latest new at CEDRIC.
© Michelle Morand, 2010