Most of us try to use will power to control our overeating. If it was really a matter of will power, we’d have the problem licked by now. The more we try to control our eating, the more food obsessed we become.
When you tell yourself you can’t have something – that it’s bad or off limits – you want it even more. It sets up a deprivation and overeating cycle. When you have it, you tell yourself you better eat plenty now because you have to go back to restricting it. If you could have it anytime you wanted, it wouldn’t have that much power over you.
The truth is you do have the power to eat normally, but in order to find the way back to sanity, you must be willing to let go of the old ways and change your thinking and belief system. The answers are inside of you waiting for you to discover them. You were born with the ability to eat normally, but you lost it when you gave your power away to the external belief system called dieting.
A former client of mine found herself going daily to a Starbucks and eating a cookie that she really liked. Afterwards, she was so wracked with guilt over eating the cookie, she would punish herself the rest of the day by bingeing. It wasn’t the cookie that was piling on the pounds but the resulting guilt induced bingeing episodes brought on by eating the cookie.
I gave her the assignment of going to eat the cookie each day and fully savoring it, with my full permission. She did that for a week and didn’t binge once. After eating the cookie every day, she realized that she didn’t really want the cookie every day. It had lost it specialness – it was no longer forbidden fruit. Now that she had full permission to eat it, she really only wanted it once or twice a week at most; it was the feeling she couldn’t have it, that drove her to eat it every day.
What foods have you given your power away to?
Exercise: Take one food that you feel out of control with and give yourself permission to have it. The only requirement is that you sit down and eat it with mindfulness. Do nothing else but slowly savor the food.
Take in the smell, taste, texture, sound, flavors. As an experiment, see just how much it takes to be truly satisfied when eating this way. When you feel satiated, stop eating and tell yourself you can have some tomorrow. Don’t expect an overnight transformation. You may still choose to overeat. Try to let go of any guilt or criticism afterwards. It may take a while for your brain to fully accept this new information and move from a deprivation mindset to an allowing mindset.
When I tune into what my body really wants, and pay attention to its cues of hunger, satiation, and fullness, I regain my power over food.
Food is not good or bad. It just is.
There is a place for all sorts of food in my life.
I satisfy my desires without guilt or shame.