Let’s begin with a new kindness

You did it. You told diets to shove it and you weren’t going to be duped this year. This is so exciting. And scary.

Now what?

Your Road Map

Over the next few weeks I will take you through the first steps toward healing your relationship with food. Some steps may feel unnecessary where as others you may cling to with a death grip. I encourage you to take what you need and offer support to others when you feel secure. We are all in this together! Seek and find support in comments and using #FoodPeaceChallenge on Twitter.

Stop shoulding on yourself. Cultivate curiosity.
Stop shoulding on yourself. Cultivate curiosity.

The first steps will consider the contents of your hunger cues. I like starting with hunger because it is tough to know when to stop eating if we don’t start when physically hungry. Not feeling hunger cues? No worries since that will be addressed to. From there, we will hammer out how you feel hunger, the different types, and how each communicates different physical and emotional needs.

After hunger, we will gradually work toward the other eating decisions: fullness and satiety.

First things first

Before we consider hunger cues, I want you to take a moment to set intentions for this process. In order heal, we will need to retrain your brain for kindness rather than judgement. A life filled with dieting leads to harsh self talk. This type of brain messaging will keep you from healing. Instead of telling your brain a bunch of shoulds, I want you to concentrate on two words:

Nonjudgmental curiosity.

Considering your food decisions in this caring spirit of inquiry will open up the door to mend and dig deeper. It will also help you start to rewire your brain to allow food to fuel and not over occupy your brain’s space. Imagine not thinking about food, exercise, or your body every second! This is how this process begins to evolve.

Your brain has spent many years thinking negatively about how you eat so I encourage you to be patient with yourself. This never happens overnight! I find many of my clients take about a year to rewire their brain to think *most of the time* with nonjudgmental curiosity. If this part seems overwhelming for you, consider adding an eating disorder dietitian to your team. Find folks here.

Over the next few days, I encourage you to ask yourself these questions and notice:

  1. How do you know when to eat?
  2. How do you know when to stop eating?
  3. What messages do you experience when you make food decisions? In other words, what does your brain say about your eating before, during, and after? There may be many different messages or not. Practice being curious about your brain’s eating messages here and you will may find important information to help you move forward.

Cultivating curiosity will help you connect the dots to make sense of your relationship with food. Here are two examples of judging versus curiosity:

Judging

  • “I shouldn’t have eaten so many French fries with this cheeseburger. I should have just eaten half of the burger and pushed it away. I have no will power.
  • “Every morning I start out eating good yet by mid afternoon I am so bad going to the vending machine. Then going through the drive thru on the way home. If only I could just stick to eating at meals and made dinner at home I would be eating better!”

Nonjudgmental curiosity

  • “I felt full after half of the burger yet found it tough to stop eating it. Found it even tougher to not eat the French fries. I had started eating this meal a few hours later than normal; I wonder if it was tough to stop eating because I started with a painful hunger level?”
  • “I notice every afternoon I go to the vending machine at work when feeling tired. What’s making me so tired? I wonder if starting the day out with _____ for breakfast and _____ for lunch is enough to keep me fueled until dinner?”

Notice how the Debbie Downer judging voice keeps the person from understanding the decisions leading up to these uncomfortable eating experiences. And, likewise, the nonjudgmental curious voice opens up the brain to options. With these options, one can experiment to see if a different way allows more comfortable eating experiences.

Best wishes with these next steps. Take care of each other in comments and by using #FoodPeaceChallenge on Twitter.