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 Weight Loss and Your Relationship with Food

How You do Food is How You do Life! ®

Weight Loss Happens Easily When Your Life is in Balance

Permanent weight loss is about transforming your relationship with all of life. The relationship you have with food is a mirror of the relationship you have with life. It reflects your beliefs, attitudes, fears, feelings, and deepest longings. How you approach food is how you approach life. You eat how you are.

Your relationship with food exists in the larger context of your life. Your eating style is a reflection of your internal state. If your eating is out of balance, so is your life. If your internal state is stressful and chaotic, your eating style will be also. When your life becomes more balanced and peaceful, so will your eating. Dieting is never effective for long because it doesn't address the context of your life.

Permanent weight loss is really about lifestyle and spiritual change: finding new ways of nurturing oneself, learning to manage stress, and finding new ways of being in the world that support one’s spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health.

As Zen teacher Cheri Huber wrote in her wonderful book with the same name, "How you do anything is how you do everything!" To make peace with food, you have to make peace with yourself.

Here are some portraits of eating styles and lifestyles. What’s yours? 

The Binger and Compulsive Eater – I Can’t Get Enough!

If you are compulsive with food you might also be compulsive in other areas of your life or you may be very controlling in other areas and food is the one place you're out of control. If you are a binger or overeater, you might find yourself at times bingeing or overdoing other things besides food. You might also find yourself at times binge drinking, binge shopping, abusing other substances, working too much, or collecting things. 

You feel empty inside. You can’t get enough because you feel you aren’t enough. There is a large hole inside of you calling you to fill it. You are filling the void with substances, people, and things. Your life is probably chaotic. You may be very impulsive, with poor self-control. After a binge you are filled with shame, and self-loathing. Weight loss is very difficult for you because you use food to numb or avoid painful emotions.

You may have a hard time setting boundaries and saying no in life. You may be a people pleaser. You may be quite angry and resentful but never show it. You stuff your feelings with food. You may isolate a lot. You're secretive around others about how much you really eat. Food is your friend, lover, and main source of comfort. Your motto is “Food is my friend and drug of choice!”

You may be an emotional overeater, or suffering from bulimia, binge eating disorder, or food addiction.

*Note: This information is not meant as medical advice or to diagnose a medical problem or eating disorder. If you suspect you have a problem check with a medical doctor or mental health professional.

The Chronic Dieter – I Don’t Need Anything!

If you’re a chronic dieter, your life is all about control. You hate yourself for having needs. You may feel that if you were to stop dieting you would never stop eating! Dieting gives you a false sense of control. You pride yourself on doing without. You try to follow a strict weight loss routine for yourself. You may also exercise religiously.

You may be obsessive, perfectionistic and a bit of a slave driver. Others may see you as a bit of a control freak. You may feel superior to people who have less control than you do. At time you may be judgmental and critical of other people. A good day for you is when you have followed your weight loss diet to the letter.

You are very hard on yourself when you show any loss of control. You see food as being in two categories: good and bad. If you have a little slip this can be used as an excuse to be "bad" and then indulge until you decide to diet and be good again. Life becomes defined as either on a diet or off on a binge or just eating whatever you want.

You may have few interests in life. You may be a workaholic or type A personality. You may sacrifice yourself for your family. You feel virtuous when you are doing without. This depriving, rigid attitude will be seen throughout your life. You may be a martyr. You feel resentful a lot. People just don’t seem to appreciate your sacrifices and all that you do for them.

You may use food as a reward for being so good. Sometimes you lose control and then you can’t stop eating. This leads to a binge. Your response to this is to get angry and disgusted with yourself and become even more depriving. "Your motto is “ I'm in control. I can do it myself!"

You may be a chronic dieter or be suffering from binge eating disorder, or bulimia.

You may find yourself alternating between the extremes of a chronic dieter and a binger. I went long periods where I would deny myself food and other things, and then I would start to binge on life and food as a response to my deprivation.

*Note: This information is not meant as medical advice or to diagnose a medical problem or eating disorder. If you suspect you have a problem check with a medical doctor or mental health professional. 

The Anorexic – I Want To Achieve Perfection!

Your life is about extreme self-denial. You hate yourself for being human and having needs. You starve yourself hoping to achieve perfection. Your life is barren. You’re afraid to be visible in the world.

You live your life according to a very strict set of rules. You become quite anxious when you can't live by these rules. You have a critical, shaming voice in your head that drives you relentlessly. Change is extremely hard for you. You have a fear of letting go and truly living in the world. You tell yourself that if you can just get it all right everything will be ok. Being extremely thin and/or being on a weight loss diet makes you feel like you’re in control of your body and your world.

Your sense of self is poor or non-existent. You are caught in a life and death struggle. You are struggling with the basic needs of living. You may secretly wish to die. You have yet to make a real commitment to live and be seen in the world.

Your motto is "I hate myself for being human. I wish I could be perfect."

*Note: This information is not meant as medical advice or to diagnose a medical problem or eating disorder. If you suspect you have a problem check with a medical doctor or mental health professional. For eating disorder resources click here.

The Mindless Eater – What Day Is It?

If you're a mindless eater, you are a person who lives in their head most of the time. You are out of touch with your body. You are often overscheduled and over committed. You may be a workaholic. You probably have trouble-saying no.

You may pride yourself on how busy you are and how much you get done in a day. Your mind is very active, thinking about all the many things you have to do. You go from one activity to the next, without ever really being there. You live on autopilot. Your busy, busy, busy. You are always thinking about what you have to do next.

You know your unhappy but don’t feel motivated to change anything. You may spend your free time zoning out in front of the TV, on the computer, or playing video games. You usually eat when watching TV, driving, or doing other things. You find weight loss very difficult because you lose focus and motivation very quickly. You can't seem to find the time to make your weight loss goals a reality. 

You grab food on the run and have no time to exercise. You finally plop yourself in bed at night exhausted and wake-up to jump on the treadmill again in the morning. Your life is spent going through the motions. Your motto is: "Life’s a grind!"

You are probably severely overweight and out of shape. 

The Mindful Eater – Life’s But A Series Of Moments

You're a person whose life is in balance. You enjoy life. You do work you enjoy. You may have a hobby or two that brings you joy. You like to exercise. It's part of your active lifestyle. Overall, you’re happy and content with yourself and your life.

You  may have a dream you’re pursuing or a cause that you’re passionate about. You have good relationships with friends and family. You’re passionate about living life to the fullest.

Life’s not perfect, but you're grateful for all that you have. You're excited about what you’re doing. You look forward to waking up in the morning to start another day.

Food’s great, but so are lots of other things in life. Eating well is part of your balanced, healthy lifestyle. You have a few vices, but indulge them in moderation. If you overindulge once in a while, you don’t beat yourself up about it - you’re human. You just get right back on track the next day. Weight loss isn't difficult for you because you set goals, focus on what you can do each day, and know it's just a matter of time until you achieve your goal. No matter what the problem, you stay focused on the solution and what you can do each day to achieve your goals.

Whatever you are doing in life, you bring your full attention to it. You live in the moment. You're a master! Your motto is "Live and flow with the moment."

How you do food is how you do life! ®

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