I went to a Chocolate Lover’s Fling fundraiser recently. It was a lovely event where the chocolatiers gave out small servings of their chocolate desserts. We were served 12-15 different desserts (I wasn’t counting), plus the chocolatiers had tables around the perimeter of the room where people could get more of whatever they liked.
Had I gone to this event 20 years ago, I would have eaten every bite of every dessert on my plate. I would not have paid attention to my body’s signals. I would have felt like crap afterwards. Then I would have felt fat and guilty. Instead, I took a little taste of each, then a little more of the few that were really delicious. I brought the rest home for my husband.
A lot of the women with whom I work come to me with that same mindset that I used to have. They don’t trust themselves around food, especially sweets. They believe that chocolate truffles have more power than they do. If they allow themselves to eat chocolate, they believe they would never stop.
Of course that isn’t true. But as long as they believe it, they continue to prove themselves right by eating chocolate out of control.
Why do they have these beliefs? Answer: diets. From a young age, girls are indoctrinated in the diet mentality. Diets teach us that we can’t trust ourselves or our body’s wisdom to make decisions about how to eat. That is why diets tell us what to eat and how much. The idea behind diets is that we need them to tell us because we can’t be trusted to make those decisions. Diets tell us that our appetites have to be controlled like convicted criminals in prison cells. If we let them out, who knows what crimes against our bodies they’ll commit?
So many of us have spent most of our lives denying ourselves foods because we don’t trust ourselves around them. Then when we “give in,” we eat out of control because we act like we don’t know when the next opportunity to eat this food will come. We eat like there’s no tomorrow.
But what if you were to start trusting yourself around food? What if you told yourself that there is an abundance of cheesecake in the world and that you can eat it when you’re really in the mood? What if you decided that you were going to end all of your superficial eating behaviors? You know, the ones that have nothing to do with your body’s needs? Like dieting, deprivation, fasting, bingeing, and emotional eating?
Imagine going to the Chocolate Lover’s Fling feeling hungry but not ravenous, and taking a little bite of each sweet. Really tasting it to see whether it is worthy of a second bite. Then only eating more if it tastes amazing.
I’m not saying it is an easy transition, but it is one that you can absolutely make. I did it, and my clients have done it. It is a process. You have to start somewhere.
Here are the first steps:
- Get rid of all “forbidden fruit.” By that, I mean get rid of food rules that classify foods as good or bad. Don’t put any food completely off limits unless you have a compelling medical reason for doing so. When you tell yourself you can’t have something, it becomes like the apple in the Garden of Eden. Take the charge out of it by deciding you can eat whatever you like as long as you are hungry.
- Question your beliefs. How can chocolate have power over you? It is not an addictive drug. Practice believing that you control food and that it does not control you. We become what we believe.
- Don’t eat when you aren’t hungry. Instead, ask yourself WHY you want to eat. What is really going on? Why do you want to eat right now? Will food solve the problem? What do you really need that isn’t food? It is only when you stop eating when you aren’t hungry that you can figure out what unmet need or other issues in your life are causing you to eat this way.
- Think about what food represents in your life. Is it love? Comfort? Safety? Look beneath the surface. Identify any connection you have with food, especially particular trigger foods. What would be missing in your life if you couldn’t use food to deal with your emotions? As long as you keep eating to avoid dealing with these issues, you’ll never figure out a real solution to the problem. You’ll also always struggle with your weight.
Food isn’t the problem. It is how you use food that causes overweight. You can stop using food to meet your emotional needs. When you do that, you will start losing weight and you won’t regain it.
If you’re on Facebook and would like to join a group of wonderful people who are learning how to ditch dieting and change their relationship with food so that they lose weight and keep it off, join Ditch the Diet Tribe.
If you’re ready to get serious about ending emotional eating and losing weight for good, sign up for my Freedom from Emotional Eating program here.