You struggle with eating healthy consistently or sticking to your diet. You feel like you’re always failing and just need to try harder. You don’t understand why you just can’t get your shit together and stick to your freakin eating plan. You think sticking to a diet is what will change your life because frankly when you lose weight you feel happier, you feel more comfortable in your body, you feel more outgoing and social. Truthfully though, food is not your problem and the reasons you think you feel better is all about mindset.
Food is just a symptom of a deeper underlying issue.
You can’t stop the binge eating by focusing on the food. More diets, restriction and control are external fixes that won’t work long term. You need to look under the food to figure out why you are using food to cope. When you were a child I can bet you didn’t think about food 24/7, obsess over it, fear it, restrict it or binge uncontrollably on it. As children we eat intuitively but then we lose that ability as we start to be influenced by diet culture and societal ideals. We also develop certain belief systems that create thought patterns that can keep us stuck. We also don’t learn how to feel our emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms. We become disconnected to our highest self.
Food becomes a problem the moment we decide to start a diet, whether we follow someone else’s rules or make up our own restrictions. Both make the body thinks it’s entering a famine and our smart body doesn’t want us to starve so it increases our hunger and cravings. This makes a binge inevitable. When we fall into this trap food becomes an easy choice to cope with difficult emotions as we are already experiencing cravings. Over time this can become an ingrained habit that seems impossible to break even once you’ve stopped dieting.
This is where the inner work comes in. When I stopped restricting and started nourishing my body with lot’s of good food, I notice a dramatic decrease in the frequency and intensity of my binges. The missing piece for the remaining binges was to look under the food, because it’s really not about the food from the very beginning. What is under the urge to diet and restrict? What is under the bad body image? What is under the urge to binge? This is where the works starts. Where in your life are you feeling out of alignment, stuck and not where you want to be. What else in your life are you depriving yourself of?
There are three components to this inner work you need to look at that include mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Mental health involves looking at our thoughts and mindset. This work involves uncovering limiting belief systems that are creating your thought patterns, and updating them. This shit is hard to do on your own so I suggest you work with someone on this whether a psychologist, therapist or coach. I am trained specifically in the Cognitive Approach For Problematic Eating, which allows me to coach in this area. Our thoughts create our actions, our actions create our habits, which is what determines our life. So if you want to change your life, you need to do the work to change your thoughts.
The emotional work involves learning how to feel your emotions, so that you can release them and not continue to push them down where they can continue to trigger you. It’s helpful to learn how to express your emotions and release them so that they can move through you. Mindfulness really helps with allowing us to stay present with our emotions, instead of going into a trance with food, television, social media, etc. You can check out some ideas on how to incorporate mindfulness into your life in my post, 10 Ways To Start Practicing Mindfulness.
In yoga teacher training I’ve also learned about this concept called non-attachment. We can use this when we are dealing with uncomfortable emotions to take a step back and not have to assign meaning to them, but instead observe them unattached. One powerful way to practice non-attachment is to keep your focus on the present. Often our emotions are created when we are thinking of something in the future and if we can bring ourselves back to the present moment and just be where we are now, we can practice non-attachment with those emotions.
The spiritual component is about connecting to our soul and that can be through a deity if that resonates with you. The diety could be Jesus, Buddha, Allah, etc. but isn’t necessary. The important thing is that you’re working towards connecting to your highest self. I find meditation, breathing and nature great ways to connect my highest self. Spirituality is about connecting to something bigger than ourselves and understanding that we are supported whether that’s by a god, universe, the divine, etc.
I love morning practices as a way to incorporate spirituality into your life and connect to your highest self. Your morning practice can involve energy clearing, journaling, meditating, reading, prayer and/or mantra’s. Whatever you choose to do to connect, it’s important to practice it daily just as it is with the practices you do to support your physical, mental and emotional health.
So in short food is not the problem, but an imbalance in your mental, emotional and spiritual health is.