This week I’m sharing a brief but invaluable tool for any of you who would like to be able to trust yourself to be around any food, in any quantity, any time. Sound good?
If you follow these steps, you will quickly be able to identify when you’re using food to cope vs. when you are just confused about what to eat and how much, and getting anxious because of that.
If you’re at a point in your use of the core CEDRIC Method tools where you are able to manage your stress in rational, life-enhancing ways, you’ll also be able, in a 2-3 weeks, to trust your body to know what and how much it needs, and as a result, you’ll feel much more peaceful and at ease in your body and around food.
Heads up, if you give this a try and find yourself getting stuck in Diet Mentality (judging your choices as good or bad, or preoccupied with fat and body image), it doesn’t mean you can’t do it (that’s just silly old learned helplessness), it simply means you need a little more time with the core tools of rational thinking so that your need for food to cope isn’t so great.
If this is the case, just back up the bus a bit and commit for the next month to practicing one of the core tools (The List of Stressors; The Drill Sgt. Dialogue; and/or 4-7-8 Breathing – our web program offers a lesson mastery practice segment for just this purpose – and then pull out this article and see how much easier it is to sort out natural eating when you don’t need to use food to cope as much.)
Okay – here goes!
The CEDRIC Method Step-by-Step Process for How to Learn to Eat Naturally Again
For starters, this can’t be something anyone tries for just one day or even one week. Either you commit to 3 weeks or don’t start.
I know that’s all-or-nothing – and in this case it is warranted. We need a firm boundary here.
Your Drill Sgt. will undoubtedly experience some distress during this process, not because something is truly wrong and panic-worthy, but because it will be so different from how you’ve approached food before, and he’s prone to anxiety when you’re not doing the old Diet Mentality behavior of restricting and criticizing what you eat.
I promise you that you’ll be just fine if you simply hold steady, should the Drill Sgt. get a little antsy, and offer yourself these words of reassurance:
“I appreciate your intention DS. This is different from anything I’ve tried before so it’s natural that it feels weird and a little scary. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong, just different, and that’s what we want, right? And, we’re committed to doing this for the next 3 weeks my friend. If at the end of 3 weeks, I still don’t trust myself around food, I promise, I’ll go on a diet right away!”
And I can guarantee you; you won’t be needing to diet. You’ll be so done with that and so much more confident around food.
So, if you’re ready to learn how to trust your body’s cues of hunger and fullness and how much you need to eat, commit for the next 3 weeks to set the Drill Sgt. and his Diet Mentality aside and let go of judgments of what you’re choosing or how much you’re eating, assuming you’re following these basic steps.
If you do this, after 2-3 weeks, you will be able to trust when you’re hungry, when you’re comfortably full, how much you need to eat given your current level of hunger, and which foods feel good in your body vs. which foods truly make you feel tired or bloated, etc.
1. Wait until you’re physically hungry to eat. If you have to wonder, you’re not hungry, just wait until you are sure. (This will get much clearer after just a few days.)
(If you are wanting to eat and not hungry, get out your pen and paper and write out a List of Stressors so you can see where your thinking is confused and set yourself straight quickly.
Run through each role in your life and if you draw a blank at first – remember your trigger doesn’t have to be – and frequently isn’t – anything happening right now or anything major. It can often be something past or future and smallish but that becomes big when your all-or-nothing thinking gets a hold of it.)
2. Ask yourself what you really want to have to eat.
3. If that is available, have that. If it’s not around, ask again, what you’d like that is accessible and have that.
4. Take what you believe is a reasonable portion, not based on diet books, magazines, or what others are having, but on what you think seems right for you, given how hungry you are, and eat that.
5. Then wait 15-20 minutes. If you’re still hungry, have more. If you’re not hungry but comfortable – celebrate! Reassure yourself that that was the perfect amount, and remind yourself of how hungry you were when you started eating that time and how much you had of what kind of food to get to that place of comfortable fullness. Then plant this image in your memory and remind yourself of this when you’re next hungry. This way, you’ll be able to start to get your own visual and physical cues jiving about how much you truly need when you’re at a certain level of hunger to feel truly satisfied. You’ll then be able to transfer this knowledge to other kinds of foods and other levels of hunger by comparing this memory to your hunger cues the next time around.
If you check in 15-20 minutes after eating and you’re stuffed, don’t freak out. It’s part of the learning process. Make it count. Learn something. Don’t just let the DS berate you and tell you you’ll never get it. What can you learn from this? Simply think back to how hungry you were when you started eating and how much you ate. Then imagine 2/3 of that amount of food, and that’s what you start with the next time you’re at the same level of physical hunger.
6. There is no need to give yourself a hard time here. You’ve got 3 weeks to figure this out, and the more you give yourself room to learn through trial and error, the faster you’ll learn and the easier it will be next time to have an amount that is more suited to your level of hunger at that time. No more binging, purging, restricting. Just eating naturally. And if your DS gets worried, just read the reassurance statement above.
7. If you start to get confused about what to do or if you’re doing it right, simply remind yourself that all you have to do right now is wait until you’re next hungry to eat and follow these steps again. Nothing more.
8. And remember, there is no value in telling yourself you shouldn’t have to do this. You do. It’s that simple. Regardless of how you came to be so disconnected from your body and how unfair or unjust it is, no one else can retrain you to honour the cues of your body but yourself. You can do it, and quickly too. You just have to hold steady and keep trying for a short 3 weeks and you’ll never have to do this again as long as you live!
And if, during this time, you get a little hooked into comparing yourself to someone’s body or to where they are (or seem to be) in their life, try saying this to yourself:
“It’s true that I’m not thrilled with where my body is at right now and that I’m not my best self and that that makes me feel insecure around others who are slim, or around guys I like. That’s how anyone would feel if they weren’t their best selves. What is also true is that I’m taking steps every day to learn how to eat naturally and to be a natural weight for my body without dieting and rigorous exercise routines. If I just keep trucking with the changes I’m already making, the only thing that can happen is that I will have that great body in an easily sustainable way, and be the best me I can be.”
Have a great week everyone.