“You mean I can eat anything? Like…there aren’t any rules?? But, if I let myself eat whatever I want, I’ll just binge on cheesecake all day!”
This is a common reaction when first hearing about liberated eating, and I understand. It can sound dangerous at first. But liberated eating isn’t primarily about food at all – it’s about being whole-heartedly and fully alive. It’s about getting what you really want.
And that changes everything.
Eating what you and your body want can sound like an invitation into one long food fest if you’re thinking from the old diet perspective. Those of us who have a diet history can, at first, assume that the wanting is only about tasting. We have a difficult time even knowing what we actually want for ourselves, imagining what level of energy and strength we could be feeling in our bodies – because food has not been about feeling great and having energy; it’s been about restricting.
It’s been about behaving and denying and depriving.
No wonder we come out of dieting acting crazy around food!
Eating from a place of liberation – or mindful, intuitive eating – is an open door into a fascinating adventure of self-discovery. It’s an invitation to truly take time with yourself again – to consciously listen. Listen for what kind of energy your breakfast gave you this morning; for what lunch choice would feel good in your mouth, in your stomach and also in your energy level this afternoon; for how alert and alive your current daily menu is making you feel. As we practice tuning our ear to our body, our innate vitality, our sense of well-being, we can begin to explore new foods, new ways to move, to think, to play, and new practices that will give us what we really want.
Nobody really wants non-stop cheesecake.
When you’ve lived under the tyranny of dieting, you have to give yourself conscious permission to make your own choices again, to learn to trust yourself again, to believe you can indeed make life-bringing decisions for yourself, instead of mindlessly obeying someone else’s diet rules.
Most of us also have to do some major adjustments in how we speak to ourselves. We can begin to move from saying things like “You better not eat that!” (in a snarky, accusing tone) or “I guess I should choose that” (in a sad and victimized tone) to saying things like “I feel like something warm today for lunch” (in a kind and comforting tone) and “I’m not going to get the cookie today because it made me feel sleepy yesterday afternoon”(in a knowing and confident tone).
Tone matters. A lot.
Notice there is a direct connection in these mindful choices between how you feel, how you want to feel, and what, when or how you decide to eat. It isn’t about should. It is about feeling great right now and this afternoon and next year. It’s about lovingly caring for yourself.
After years of dieting it takes some practice to begin to be lovingly at home with yourself again.
To pay kind attention to yourself again.
To listen carefully to what you actually want for yourself.
Dieting has marched us away from our true selves and into a demanding prison camp. Mindful and intuitive eating liberates us from this tyranny, nurses us back to health and then asks with curiosity and sincerity “What do you really want for yourself? And what will it take to make that happen?”
That is where a coach can come in handy for a while to help you make the transition – someone who can help you uncover what you want for yourself (rather than telling you what you need to do) and will say with full confidence “I’m with you and together we’ll figure this out.”
So “You mean I can eat anything? Like… there aren’t any rules??” That’s right. No rigid rules that lead to inevitable shame and disappointment.
“But if I let myself eat what I want I’ll just binge on cheesecake all day!”
Fear not. As you begin to discover and acknowledge what you really want you’ll begin to live more and more plumb with yourself and your deep desire to be fully and richly alive.
Go ahead…begin to trust yourself. You are trustworthy.
Go ahead…dare to admit what you truly want for yourself. You can have it.
Go ahead…trade shame producing rules for some wise guidelines and your own intuition.
And if you need some help, I’m all yours.