This is Part VII of The Diet Mentality Series, (visit The CEDRIC Centre Blog
for immediate access to all articles in this series).
Welcome new members of our community! You’ll fit right in here if you are an emotional eater, binge, restrict, or struggle with anorexia, bulimia or some other stressful way of relating to food and want to learn how to stop.
Over the past 2 months now we’ve been exploring in detail each of the key aspects of thinking and behaving that make up what we at CEDRIC call The Diet Mentality.
Last week we covered the topic of weight and how our attachment to a certain size or weight impacts us. I asked you to contemplate a brief series of questions to do your own inner exploration of this topic and from the feedback I received you learned a lot! Good on ya!
This week we are going to begin a little exploration on another of your favorite diet mentality topics: Exercise! Don’t ya just love it!!!
Welcome, This is Part IV in our How to Get Free of the Diet Mentality series (visit The CEDRIC Centre blog for immediate access to all articles in this series).
If you’re new to our community and find that you binge, restrict, or struggle with anorexia, bulimia or some other stressful way of relating to food you’ve come to the right place to learn about why you do it and what you can do to stop once and for all.
So far in this article series we’ve discussed 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. And last week we talked about labeling foods as good/bad legal/illegal and the nasty consequences of doing so.
In case you’re not aware (because you’re new to our community and to this process), The Diet Mentality is at the core of your stressful relationship with food. It is the way of thinking and behaving with food that arises from confused thinking and stressful situations in your past, present and future. As long as you continue to believe that The Diet Mentality has any merit, you will continue to struggle with food and body image and with those underlying stressors that are triggering this way of thinking and behaving in the first place.
On that note, this week I want to educate you on another core trait of The Diet Mentality:
You restrict eating to certain times of the day – whether you are hungry or not. This means both eating at traditional mealtimes when you are not hungry and not allowing yourself to eat after a certain time of day despite feelings of hunger.
One aspect of The Diet Mentality that you must be on the lookout for in order to step free of that old way of thinking and step into an effortless relationship with food and a natural weight for your body without dieting is the pattern of restricting the amount of food that you are ‘allowed’ to have.
In a rational, functional relationship with food, what you are physically hungry for is what you are ‘allowed’ to have. And the only one who ‘allows’ you is you. Not the other people you’re eating with; Not Jenny Craig; Not Dr. Bernstein; You!
Your primary responsibility where food is concerned is to wait until you are hungry to eat something. Your next responsibility is to learn to stay present while eating and to identify and listen to the cues of comfortable fullness you are eating naturally. You are not responsible to buy into anyone else’s ideas of what you should have or how much.
For the next few weeks in my articles, I’m going to be exploring each of the key points of what we call ‘The Diet Mentality.’ Each week I’m going to briefly explore one key characteristic of this harmful way of thinking and offer you a suggestion of something you can do that week to begin to directly address this issue if it something that you recognize in yourself. For this week though we’re going to start with an exploration of where The Diet Mentality comes from and some background on diets in general:
The Origin of Our Diet Mentality
The Diet Mentality is a way of thinking that has been ingrained in us by messages we receive predominantly from our primary caregivers and our peers. These messages are then often reinforced and enhanced by teachers, coaches, advertisements and media messages, and from diet and exercise programs that we may have tried in the past or may currently be pursuing.
It is easier to understand how we came to be where we are when we keep in mind that as children and adolescents, because we were limited by our brain’s inability to realize that not everything is about, or caused by, us, and because we had no other frame of reference than that of the family in which we were raised (and the community surrounding us), we had no contrast and therefore no ability to see clearly when our parents and peers, teachers and coaches were, themselves, confused in their thinking. We just believed that they were right and we followed blindly and innocently along. (For a more detailed article on brain development and its impact on our lives , and our relationship with food please see: http://www.cedriccentre.com/blog/lets-talk-about-your-brain/)
I am a specialist who works with those who are frustrated with their bodies and their relationship with food (those who binge or restrict or purge in any way). As you can imagine, in my conversations with clients, the topic of feeling envious of the seeming ease and comfort that others feel in their bodies and with food and then consequently feeling guilty/shameful for feeling envious, comes up daily.
As such, I have, from my own recovery process and countless hours with clients, devised a quick little tool to shift those icky, jealous feelings and the underlying needs that triggered them.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you’ll never, ever again start to feel those stirrings of “Why them and not me!?” around those people/places/things that we would like for ourselves or conversely, “Why me and not them!!!?” around those things that we’d really have preferred not to have experienced in our brief but action-packed lives.
For this week’s article I thought a wee review (intro to you newcomers) of a basic principle on how to overcome an eating disorder would be in order. In my own healing journey, the more I was reminded of this basic premise, the faster things went and the easier life became. I see this phenomenon repeating with my individual clients as well, so here goes.
Simply put, if you’re restricting, overeating, purging, hating your body (no matter whether you’re truly overweight or underweight), feeling depressed, feeling anxious, drinking often, taking drugs, numbing out regularly to the T.V., or spending money you don’t really have on stuff you don’t really need, you are using a coping strategy.
I’ll bet you know something about goal setting. I’d actually be willing to bet that you’re very good at setting yourself goals each and every day about what you’ll eat, what you won’t eat, when, how much exercise you’ll do, how much sleep you’ll get, whose call you’ll return and how much you’ll get done at work or around the house. Chances are, you’re really skilled at setting goals. But…how often do you actually follow through with them? How often do you get to the end of your day feeling peaceful and relaxed that you achieved what you had asked of yourself that day?
If, more often than not, you reflect on your day, and hear the Drill Sgt.’s critical voice in your head pointing out your shortcomings, it’s a good indication that you did not achieve the goals you set for yourself that day. Same goes for those of you who wake up in the morning to the Drill Sgt. telling you what you will and won’t do that day to make up for what you did/didn’t do the day before.
A snippet from the Food is Not the Problem web-based program.
This week I thought I’d share with you one of the weekly discussions/exercises from my new Web-Based Program. This discussion is on the topic of Natural Eating. I’ve attached a copy of the Natural Eating handout as well and encourage you to make use of it!
If this article resonates with you and you’d like to experience a life free from your stressful relationship with food, I hope you’ll consider joining our web program, attending a workshop or taking part in some one-on-one counselling. You don’t have to continue to feel stuck and ruled by food one more day.