Something that I think about a lot is why making healthier changes seems to be easier for me now. I’m not saying there are never challenges; that I never think about binging or have days where I just don’t care, but by and large the whole process has felt easier.
I’ve tried just about every variety of diet or “lifestyle change” as I preferred to call it (because I knew that diets didn’t work), and none of it lasted more than a few weeks. Weight Watchers lasted about 6 months once, and that was the closest I’ve gotten to an actual lifestyle change. So as I sit here, reflecting on all my failed attempts at improving my health, I’ve realized the only thing that’s different this time is my mindset.
Last year, I decided to attend group therapy for eating disorders. I was tired of the diets, the guilt, and the hopeless feelings, and wanted to learn how to fix my relationship with food. I didn’t immediately switch to a healthier space, but I did learn how to reframe my relationship with food and I want to share some of the tips I’ve learned with you. (Please keep in mind that I am not a therapist, and if you have disordered eating behavior, I’d strongly encourage you to get professional support. I’d be happy to help you find someone in your area if you don’t know where to start)
Food isn’t “good” or “bad”, it doesn’t have a moral center. I’ve reframed this conversation in my mind to consider whether or not a food will make me feel good. Some foods make my body feel good, some foods make my mind (soul, heart, whatever) feel good, some foods do both, and some don’t do either. It’s so important to take the bad connotations away from your food. The cookies in your pantry are not “bad”, and you’re not a bad person for wanting to eat them.
Diets don’t work. (because I feel like it’s worth repeating) Diet mentality specifically will ruin all of your health-related endeavors. I had to take a few months off from trying to eat healthy foods because I couldn’t shake the diet mentality. I’d say it wasn’t a diet, but at the end of the day, it was. I had to learn how to relax and just eat what I wanted before I could fully understand what it meant to eat healthy foods because I love myself, not because I want to change my body. (In case you’re curious, I did not lose weight during those months, and I was fine with it, because that wasn’t the point.)
You don’t have to “clean your plate”. Many of us were raised with this mentality (sometimes indirectly through other friends and family), because “there are starving children in Africa and we’re lucky to have food”, right? While they were right that we are lucky to have access to food on a regular basis, they were wrong to guilt us in to overeating. So as you’re eating a meal, take a few moments in between bites to stop and evaluate where you’re at. Are you still hungry? Are you still interested in the food on your plate? If not, it’s ok to put the fork down. Wrap it up and save it for later, or start with smaller portions if you don’t like leftovers.
You deserve to do what you love. no exceptions. I have issues with self confidence. Up until recently, I didn’t feel valuable or worthy to do or experience certain things because I wasn’t happy with my body. What I’ve learned through group therapy, and even being a Beautycounter consultant, is that no matter what you look like, you have every right to pursue your passions. By making the choice to pursue a desire (nutrition therapy program), I see more of my self worth. By taking the initiative to do something I love, I’m showing myself that I am worthy of happiness as I am.
I hope this inspires you somehow. Maybe you start looking at food differently, or start pursuing that desire you keep putting off. Let me know in the comments what tips have helped you overcome dieting behavior or disordered eating.