Certain foods, which you have labeled as “bad” become loaded with energy and judgement. This judgement is passed on to you for eating these foods or for even thinking about eating them. While you gnaw on a carrot, you may judge or envy others for eating certain foods that are on your “restricted” list. You may feel as though everyone is watching you, watching what you order, or noticing the more-than-ample portion. Eating in restaurants can be torture for someone who has rampant Diet Mentality. Their worth is completely wrapped up in their body and their relationship with food, and they believe that everyone else thinks the same of them.
Archive for May, 2011
We are continuing our Natural Eating Q&A session with a question that comes up with each and every client I’ve ever supported through this process. It goes something like this:
“What if I try to check in but the voice in my head just says: “Who cares about checking in?! I just want food now!!!”
Well, this is a pretty simple one.
If you’re hearing that dialogue in your head when you realize you’re wanting to use food to cope, it absolutely, no exceptions, means that you’re feeling overwhelmed and you are afraid that if you don’t use food to cope in that moment, you’ll get consumed by the thoughts and feelings you’re trying to keep at bay through the act of eating (and then maybe purging or beating yourself up).
Once you have acknowledged your desire to use food to cope and your underlying needs and feelings associated with it (which takes but a few seconds, once you have done it a handful of times), you are ready for validation. Your feelings are valid. Your feelings are appropriate, natural cues which arise in your body to signal you and let you know when something requires attention. They are always perfectly appropriate for the circumstance, because the circumstance, as you experience it, is not what is happening for someone else or outside of yourself. It is what is happening in your head – what you are telling yourself is going on.
Once you are able to recognize that any energy around food that isn’t peaceful is simply an indicator that you’re feeling unsettled about something (or a number of things), and you’ve just kicked over your manageable stress threshold into maxed out, needing-food-to-cope land, then your automatic default will no longer be to get hooked and ride the train of food focus and self-flagellation. Instead, your reaction will be empathy and compassion. You will stop. You will breathe. You will say:
“Wait, I’m getting hooked into food focus here that isn’t feeling peaceful or good. That means I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed about something. What was I just thinking/what just happened that might have triggered me to feel at all anxious/unsettled/…pressured? And what am I telling myself that means? And was there any all-or-nothing thinking in that thought? If so, how else could it possibly go? And do I think that outcome is equally or more likely?”
There’s your recipe. It’ll make a perfect batch of self-esteem brownies every time!
This week we’re continuing our fantabulous exploration of Natural Eating troubleshooting with an answer to the question:
“How do I “not feel guilty” for eating something when I’ve been telling myself/or others have been telling me for years that certain foods are just plain bad or that they’ll make me fat?”
First of all, when it comes to food, the most important thing we can do is to come back to Natural Eating basics whenever we feel anxious or unsettled around food, or feel drawn to eat when we aren’t hungry.
Learned helplessness is a way of perceiving the world that underlies everything you do, say, think and feel. LH typically happened in childhood when we felt powerless to effect changes or resolutions to the stressors in our lives. It’s also part of the all-or-nothing mindset that tells us that we, as adults, still can’t do anything to remedy situations that are uncomfortable or intolerable for us.
Learned helplessness is part of the using food coping strategy. It’s easier to eat or restrict than to deal with something we think we can’t. That’s human. We’ve ALL done this at one time or another. Avoiding pain is usually easier than running toward it! But, in the end, if we don’t take action and face what’s bothering us, we just end up perpetuating the self-defeating cycle and feel more and more frustrated and hopeless in the process. How’s the level of your LH?
If we saw procrastination (and binging, purging, restricting, dieting, etc.) as a coping strategy, as manifesting our learned helplessness and subsequent overwhelm, then we would naturally ask ourselves: What is overwhelming me? And what can I do about that?
Instead, we’ve been taught to stay on the surface, focus on our behaviour, and perceive our procrastination as the problem, as a giant flaw in our character that we can’t do anything about. Therefore we don’t we have any options but to do the thing we’re telling ourselves we have to do, in exactly the way we’re telling ourselves we have to do it, or play ostrich, bury our heads in the sand and just berate ourselves even more, building more and more of a case for our laziness and ineptitude, when all it would take is a little compassion and a little effort to understand what we’re resisting and why.
One of the most ironic things about those of us who use (or have used) food to cope is that we’re very smart. We’re also very intuitive. We’re also very trusting and as such, very vulnerable. This above all else means that if we ever hope to be truly free of binging or purging or restricting and any stressful focus on food, we need first and foremost to learn to listen to and respect ourselves about what we’re feeling and needing, and we need to absolutely trust ourselves to respect those feelings and the messages they contain about our needs at that time. We are not fools, and try as we might, we cannot pretend that we’re okay when we’re not or that something isn’t bothering us when it is.
If you’re overeating, restricting or purging, it simply means that at some point in your life, you felt completely overwhelmed by your emotions, powerless to change a stressful or harmful situation and, for self-preservation, began to master the art of ignoring your emotions, seeing them as pointless and annoying instead of your key to true strength and happiness.
All this simply means is you adopted a way of coping with life at a time when you needed to lean on something because you didn’t know any other way to handle situations. Food became your crutch. How can this be your fault?
I hope you enjoyed the first instalment of the Natural Eating Q&A last week. As I mentioned in that article, I’m going to spend the next few weeks answering some questions that I often hear clients asking regarding natural eating.
Continuing on with the list of common questions that I posted in last week’s article, this week I’m going to address the question:
How do I know when I’m full?
For those of you who have been overeating to cope with stressful life situations and anxious thinking or depressed moods, it is quite possible that you have come to associate a feeling of over-full, or absolutely stuffed, with being full. It is important to learn to discern the difference between comfortable, appropriate levels of fullness and downright stuffed.