Long term dieting, counting calories, restricting and depriving yourself of your favorite foods can lead to one thing: Food Obsession. Being on a diet creates a constant stream of thoughts about food; what you can't have, what you can have, how much you can have, how many calories, and so on. It's exhausting....
And included in those obsessive thoughts, are are all the judgements and food rules that you have been taught along the way. We try to eat perfectly, and stay away from the "bad" and "forbidden" foods that we feel out of control around. When we are "on track," we feel good, but we have to fight to stay there...it's not consistent and then the dreaded pendulum swing happens.
Learning to love your food and enjoy/savor it versus obsessing about it, will be the key to shifting your relationship to it. It will also free up a whole lot of brain space in your head, and the energy you spend thinking about food all the time. And when I say "loving your food," I don't mean the out of control feeling you have when you're around it, or that you can't stop eating it. That's not what truly loving and being connect to your food is. The obsessive, out of control feeling is how you are giving your power away to it. It ends up controlling you.
When I was dieting, binge eating and struggling with food obsession, I was afraid to eat and I there was a constant, running total in my head of the calories I consumed. I then based how I felt about myself that day as a result of the calories I ate, or didn't eat and if I was "good" or "bad" with my eating. Or the weight I lost, or didn't lose. It was such a vicious cycle.
Over the years of coaching hundreds of clients and supporting them in truly shifting the way they approach food, I have witnessed incredible courage and powerful transformation happen. And what my clients come to realize, is that their struggles with food have nothing to do with the food! The food is just the symptom of something deeper.
Learning to love your food and enjoy it versus obsessing about it, will be the key to shifting your relationship to it.
Step One to Stop Food Obsession
Identify Your Food Rules
The diet industry is notorious for instilling food rules. And we all know the diet industry does not provide long-term solution. Look, I know it can feel scary to let go of food rules, because we feel as though we might get out of control without them. But having food rules keeps you stuck in deprivation and also creates bad feelings every time you eat something you think is "bad." Another important thing that having food rules prevents is a connection to, and trust of, our bodies.
By identifying all the rules you have around food, you can then start to shift your mindset so you experience some more freedom and a loosening of the grip on food obsession. This journey is all about being able to trust yourself and your body to make choices that will serve you. I used to have a hard rule about not eating past 8pm. Or that eating pastry and candy was bad. And guess what? I'd end up bingeing on both of those things and doing it in the middle of the night. SO much for those rules.
The moment we put rules on food, our brain goes into survival mode. Especially when we deprive ourselves of the things we love. And guess what? Then we want those foods even more.
When I finally let go of my food rules, I realized that I didn't even really want cupcakes or candy anymore. So, now if I want sweets, I choose to have them sweets in a form that feels good to me and my body. I take the time to truly savor them without judgment, and I give myself FULL permission.
- Take out a piece of paper, and write down the top 3 food rules you have that you can think of.
- Choose the one out of those 3 that feels like it would be the easiest to break; focus on that one for the next few days. For example; if you have a rule about a cheat meal on weekends, allow yourself to have those foods more regurlarly during the week so you don't feel deprived and go overboard.
- Notice what happens when you start to allow yourself permission to eat these foods and let yourself ENJOY and SAVOR them. Do your best to take away the judgment. It might feel hard at first, but you can do it.
- Every time your mind wanders to the rule, and you go into judgement, bring it back to the present moment and focus on what you are doing. Tell yourself it's OK!!! Because really, it truly is OK!
You will need to dismantle your rules one by one in order to keep your ego from freaking out! The ego doesn't like change and notices immediately when you're taking a different action. Like I said, pick one that doesn't feel so big, but would feel freeing if you let it go. Over time you will build the trust and confidence in yourself and you will not need to have food rules ever again
Step two to Stop Food Obsession
Stop Dieting and Build Self Trust
Most of us have been on a diet at one time or another. There is one thing I know about dieting; it keeps the obsessive food thoughts VERY alive. And it also is the creator of all the food rules we tend to live by, as mentioned above.
If you truly want to begin to loosen the reins on your food obsession, you must be willing to give up dieting. Over 90% of people who lose weight on a diet, gain it back (and then some.) This vicious cycle is exhausting and keeps us stuck in survival mode, and self-loathing. When we are dieting, we are in survival mode, and our mind will latch on to anything it can to create safety for us. This means obsessing about the food that we are depriving ourselves of.
I'm sure you've had the experience time and again of telling yourself you will start over on Monday, or "be good" for the rest of the day, or never eat sugar again; and what happens? You quickly fall off track or overeat those foods you swore off just hours earlier. The natural order of things will always create a pendulum swing, so when you are constantly obsessing over food, and restricting yourself, there will be a swing to the other side to balance things out.
The first step is to start to pay attention to your dieting mindset. Identifying your food rules will definitely help with this. Notice all the times you think about food, and all the negative talk you have around it. Awareness is the first step in giving up the dieting mindset. The more you put these new strategies into practice, the more you will begin to trust yourself.
We search for answers all over the internet but never check in with our most important source of wisdom, our bodies!
Step three to Stop Food Obsession
Get Off every List about Nutrition, Fitness and Diets
Yep, that's what I said. With social media and the internet, there is a constant barrage of information coming at us all the time that can be confusing, and feel overwhelming. The other day a client of mine emailed me to say how confused she was after hearing two different experts talk about the best diet for curing Type-2 diabetes.
One of them said a high carb, low fat diet was the best way of eating, and the other one said a low carb, high fat diet is the answer. Who is right?? This is why we are all so dang confused, and feel like we will never figure it out. We search for answers all over the internet but never check in with our most important source of wisdom, our bodies!
I do believe that most of us understand the basic rule of thumb when it comes to healthy eating, but then why do so many of us struggle to figure out how to eat? Because we are listening to everyone outside of us, versus our own body. By getting off all nutrition, diet and health lists, you can start to learn to rely on yourself and your body to give you the information you need. And trust me, it will.
When I stopped looking for answers outside of myself, and started to attune to and listen to my body's own wisdom, it changed my world. My body knows exactly what it likes, and what it doesn't like. But so many of us will override these signals our body is giving us, or the things we are craving to follow some diet because it worked for your neighbor's-daughters-boyfriends- sister. NO!
Start by unsubscribing from all those email lists you are on. The ones that confuse you, or leave you feeling like you still don't know what the answer is, or how you should be eating. Look, when it comes to nutrition, there really isn't that much new information out there. And most of the time people are looking for the next quick fix, or that THING that will finally make them lose weight. But none of those things will be the answer, or work for the long term. But building trust with your body, and shifting your behaviors and mindset around food WILL!.
Continue to practice taking different action when it comes to your relationship to food. By doing that, you will begin to create new neural pathways, that will eventually become brand, new healthier habits down the road. Remember, this is not a quick fix solution, and takes consistency, and patience. You have to be more committed to your freedom, then getting sucked into another external diet or program that will only lead you back to the same place.
YOU GOT THIS!
Are you ready to break out of the vicious food cycle?
I work with smart, busy professionals, just like you, who are frustrated and tired of the vicious yo-yo dieting cycle. I help them to stop dieting and radically transform their relationship to food so they can say bye-bye to diets once and for all, and find their natural body weight. If you're ready to finally BREAK FREE, learn more about my private and group coaching to see how you can finally create the life you have dreamed of that is free from diets and food struggles.