Do you avoid certain foods because you ‘wont be able to stop’? Do you feel out of control around your favourite treats? Do you find yourself constantly craving things that you feel you "shouldn’t" have? Do you often find yourself overeating to the point of feeling unwell?
Maybe you just want to be that person who can have a bite and be satisfied? The one who turns down chocolate because they are full or just don’t ‘feel like it’?
If you’ve said yes to any of this, don’t worry, you’re not alone and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Not only that, but it is possible to make peace with food so you can have your cake and eat it too!
Firstly, these out of control feelings around food are not your fault. Perhaps you’ve felt you needed to lose weight all your life and have been on and off of restricted diets, or maybe you are turning to food as a source of comfort when you’re lonely or stressed.
Regardless of why, these 5 steps will help you to begin to change your thinking about food so that you can begin to feel in charge again. Say NO to diets and say YES to feeling great and eating cake!
1. Ditch the weight talk. If you’re like me, you’ve tried diet after diet, only to have the weight come back on again and again, sometimes even more so. The bottom line is, there is no evidence that any weight-centric approach to diet change works long term. We’re walking evidence of this. This isn’t your fault, it’s the diet’s fault.
So, let’s imagine for a second that our weight isn’t an issue for us (or those around us). Why would we eat? Would it be to feel good? And if so, what would happen if we changed our approach from weight loss to feeling amazing? Well, in most cases, health improves and sustainable changes happen. Try to ditch the scale and turn your successes from the external dial to internal. We deserve to feel good.
2. Stop labelling food as good or bad, naughty or nice, whatever you tend to call it! When we’re binging, craving treats, and comfort eating, the last thing we want are Brussels sprouts. What we do tend to crave are foods that have been placed on the ‘naughty list’. We crave until we cave and then feel awful and repeat the cycle all over again.
This is often referred to as last supper mentality. Imagine I told you that starting tomorrow you could never have your favourite food again, what would happen? You’d go straight to the supermarket and buy it in bulk! This is what happens when diets create rules and restrictions. We just want it more than ever.
Instead, let’s look at it in context. Sure, if all we at was chocolate we’d probably feel pretty yuck. But, chocolate in the presence of a relatively healthy diet and lifestyle, is just an added benefit.
Dr. Michelle May suggest the 4x really “rule”. If you “really really really really want it, go for it”.
3. Press Pause: Next time you catch yourself grabbing something to eat, see if you can simply stop and tune in. Press pause and ask yourself “am I hungry”? This is not to give you permission to eat, but simply to be able to check in and see why you want to eat. Are you genuinely hungry or is there something else making you turn to food? Be curious, objective and see what turns up for you.
4. Eat mindfully: No, you don’t need to chew 35 times but I do encourage you sit down, at a table or bench and simply be present with your snack or meal. Eating food in this way makes it SO much more satisfying, trust me! You'll even digest it better. My chocolate tastes so much better when I give it my undivided attention. Try putting your fork down in between bites and noticing how the food tastes. Eat with gratitude, make it a full sensory experience.
5. Feed the need: If you’re not hungry, then what is it that you are actually craving? Taking time to tune into the WHY behind your food choices can be a powerful step in helping your relationship with food. Are you bored? Tired? Stressed? Sad? If so, no amount of food will satisfy you.
Meanwhile, do more of what fills you up! The more joy we get out of life, the less we need food to comfort us and while there is nothing wrong with eating chocolate because we’re sad, it’s an empowering thing to be able to make that decision for ourselves first.