Regardless of who we are, food is a messenger. The way we relate to food is an incredible source of information. When we find ourselves overeating or restricting, we can begin to identify our belief systems that inform our behaviors around food. Becoming aware of the thought patterns that create our behaviors and our bodies, we begin to access the source of our struggles with food.
Do you relate to any of the following beliefs around food?
Food gives me comfort. Food is soothing. Food helps me to let down. The food just tastes so good so I don’t want to stop eating. Eating is something to do when life feels empty. Food is love. Food is companionship. Holding onto extra weight in my body creates layers of protection. Losing weight makes me feel successful. Having control over food makes me feel like I am in control in life. I feel high when I am hungry and I want to stay high.
Although these beliefs are considered normal in our society, they can also result in unhealthy relationships to food and our bodies. If we take the time to question our normative belief systems, we can begin to replace unhealthy habits with new, healthier habits. We begin by asking ourselves questions and allowing our own experience to inform our healing.
The following four inquiries help to guide you on your journey of digging into your own experience and allowing your inner wisdom to reveal answers.
- If food tastes so good that you lose yourself in it, what happens when you slow down to notice how food tastes at the beginning, middle, and end of your meals? Does food taste as good when you are no longer hungry? Pay attention to the flavors of the food you eat at each meal or snack today and begin to notice how the taste of food changes as your physical body becomes satiated.
- If you are using food to soothe yourself when you are anxious, lonely, or depressed, what are some healthy practices that serve the same purpose? Does taking a bath, listening to gentle music, breathing deeply, or taking a walk help to sooth you? Write a list of 20 practices or activities you can do to soothe yourself when you feel anxious.
- If you believe having control over food is a form of success, how can you redefine success to invite more balance, health, and happiness into life? Write down a new definition of success that allows for life to be as messy as it actually is. Share it in the comments section below.
- What happens when you step out of your comfort zone and practice letting go of the need to control? Write down three actions that take you out of your comfort zone and into your learning zone today. Notice what it feels like to let go of control in healthy ways. If you feel anxious, use your practices for soothing yourself. I recommend taking three deep breaths and repeating “I am calm. I am strong. I love myself.”
When we make the assumption that we are rational, sane human beings who do what we do for a reason, we are showing ourselves love. Acting with self-love, we begin to accept and integrate all parts of ourselves. We begin to heal our relationships to food and we begin to heal our relationships to our lives. The power of our inner critic diminishes and our inner wisdom steps forth with a bold and powerful voice. Step by step, moment by moment, we begin to transform our struggles with food into something beautiful.