The Mindset That Conquers Trigger Foods

Holidays can be intense! Especially in the food category. Even seasoned intuitive eaters can be surprised by some almost-forgotten compulsive food-feelings this time of year. Certain goodies, situations, people and places trigger old patterns of overeating.

One way to strengthen ourselves as liberated eaters this time of year is to    intentionally revisit how we think now, compared to how we used to think.

Let’s compare these two very different mindsets: the old restrictive diet-mentality that trapped us on the diet/binge roller coaster – and – the liberating mindful mindset that connects us to our bodies and ourselves again…

Old mindset: {anxious and intense}

“This is special food!!! It looks sooo good – and it’s sooo bad!!! But… I don’t get this very often so I better eat a LOT of it now!!!”

New mindset: {peaceful and grateful}

“Holiday fare is a gift. I’m going to enjoy it and honor this time of year (and my health) by savoring it…

There’s nothing I have to overeat in order to enjoy it fully.”

Old mindset: {false hope of a future quick fix}

“In January I’m gonna go on the best diet ever and this time I’m gonna lose all this weight once and for all. I’m gonna detox and exercise and eat clean for the rest of my life!  So… I better eat all the bad stuff I can now.”

New mindset: {permanent livable solution}

“Every day I can have a delicious, calm, balanced relationship with food and my body. I don’t have to live with the extremes of too-much or too-little anymore. I can enjoy satisfying portions of the food I love every day.”

Old mindset: {shame and harsh judgement lead to repeated behaviors}

“OH NOOOO!!! I blew it AGAIN…how can I be so weak and incapable? …I’m hopeless … I might as well stuff myself.”

New mindset: {mercy leads to kindness and change}

“Hmmm, I just ate past satisfied. Whew, I don’t like that old stuffed feeling. That’s ok! I don’t have to do this perfectly. I’ll take great care of myself by listening closely to my body. I’ll check in and wait for physical hunger before I eat again.”

As we step away from emotional knee-jerk reactions and into a real relationship with food, the old triggers and patterns begin to fade. A flexible, enjoyable food-life begins to grow – not just on normal days but during the messy, fun, hustle-bustle of the holidays too.

 

Yummy thanks for the Photo by Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

How to Stop Overeating in 5 Minutes or Less

Overeating is a changeable pattern. It’ll take about 5 minutes…5 minutes of kind, curious reflection each time you’re not happy with how you’ve eaten.

Hang with me here. This is big.

Change starts with realizing something new. Realizations often come after we’ve stopped to think a bit. The new insights we gain influence new behavior, which brings more insight, which leads to more new behavior and on and on it goes. It’s a beautiful upward spiral.

Over time you rewire the software in your brain and the old patterns are over-ridden by the new ones.

To rewire our compulsive or habitual overeating, one of the most powerful things we can do is take a short timeout right after things haven’t gone the way we wish they had…

EVERY TIME* you overeat stop for a few minutes and:

1. Forgive yourself. No self-condemnation. No harsh judgment or shame. No “What in the world is wrong with me??!!” None of that. That just gums up the works, creates a downward spiral, and keeps you stuck.

2. Turn this overeating experience into something of great value to you. Instruct your mind to be quiet. Sit still a moment and become completely aware of your body. Be curious. Notice how you feel, and where. Focus on the sensations that feel uncomfortable.

3. Ask kind and helpful questions. Does my stomach feel bloated and heavy? Do my clothes feel tight? Do I feel tired and lethargic? How is my energy level? Do I like the way this feels? How would I like to feel next time? What could have changed this outcome? At what point might I have stopped eating that would’ve made this a good experience for me?

4. Connect the bad feelings with the overeating. Connection is powerful; it keeps us from being short-sighted.

We’re smart. We don’t touch hot stoves anymore. But dieting has blinded us – it’s caused the normal act of eating to become emotionally charged. When it comes to food we aren’t operating out of our usual innate wisdom. But we can. And we can feel vibrant, energized, and nourished after we eat. That’s not too much to ask.

Research shows that in most cases it takes about a year to rewire our thinking; maybe longer if our food struggle has been in place for decades. That’s certainly true of my story. The good news is, with a little help, we can create the change we want to see – 5 quiet minutes at a time.

*Of course I don’t mean literally EVERY TIME. Perfection isn’t necessary or possible but lasting change will take true consistency.

Photo by Niklas Rhöse on Unsplash

 

Notice Anything Strange Lately?

Something strange is happening…

Last week I watched as a young woman stumbled up a flight of stairs because she couldn’t take her eyes off her phone. I sat next to a man in church whose pocket vibrated repeatedly the entire hour. And my wellness clients’ ability to get through an entire coaching session without looking at a screen of some kind is much more a struggle than it was ten years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting in judgement here. I understand the pull. I can scroll through FaceBook “for a few minutes” only to wake up thirty minutes later feeling weirdly anxious. My body and brain give me red flags but I don’t always listen.

Research is discovering more and more about why these tiny devices are so addictive. If we hope to live rich, full lives we’ve got to make some important choices.

I’m certainly not planning on ditching my phone, mind you. Just this week I FaceTimed with sweet MayMay in Seattle, watched our son’s soccer team win a game out west, and got photos in real-time from Bob in the Dominican Republic. I love how connected we can be even though we’re scattered.

But here’s the thing…I really don’t want to wake up a few years from now and realize I’ve wasted precious time staring at my dang phone, and I know I could if I don’t make some careful choices now.

I’ve been working on some safeguards and a personal key question that can help me make a decision easily when I’m clearly headed into cellphone-zombie-land.

I’ve got it boiled down to this so far:

Is this phone activity making me more awake to the life and love I want, or less?

I’ll let you know how it goes.

As a wellness coach I see firsthand that often all it takes is one small change to jump start a whole cascade of other big changes in our lives. With this in mind let’s consider a one week experiment – something that can open up some fresh spaces for us without too much work.

Look over the choices below and pick one – or design your own. One new thing for one week. That’s all.

Take your pick:

  • Take a week’s vacation from Facebook.
  • Turn off all phone notifications – no rings, dings or pings.
  • Declare mealtime and/or bedtime phone free.
  • Don’t check or answer work messages after work. Inform co-workers so they don’t think you’re dead.
  • Add something fun to your week that requires no technology. Leave the phone at home for this activity. Walk, swing, read a real book in a hammock, ride your bike. Do this fun thing 3 times this week for 10 minutes.

Then reflect on your week and identify a few valuable take-aways and any next-steps you might want to take as a result of your observations.

I’m going to join you – and I would dearly love to hear what you discover…

PS – Don’t miss this 9 minute TED talk: Why Our Screens Make Us Less Happy

 

Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

4 Powerful Ways To Handle Halloween Candy This Year

October 31st kicks off our holiday season in just a few days. Let’s look at four ways we liberated eaters can navigate it with cool-headed finesse:

1) KEEP YOUR MINDSET ON “LIBERATED SETTING” – Mindset matters most of all. If the old food-anxiety begins to rear its compulsive head just remind yourself that you and food are friends now. You have a peaceful relationship, and you are growing more mindful and intuitive every day.

2) DECIDE AHEAD OF TIME – Pre-determine how you want things to go, before the candy is in the bowl.

Think it through. It may not look the same every year. This year you may want to:

  • HAVE SOME: You might choose to savor some of your favorite candy, enjoying it fully. Decide on the amount, the place and a time that feels safe and positive for you to enjoy this intentional treat.
  • HAVE NONE: You might feel more peaceful about not having any at all this year. Perhaps you feel that one piece will lead to the whole bowl. Trust yourself to know what’s best for you right now. What will bring you the most peace? Take good care of yourself by eating other foods you enjoy.

3) MAKE A DECISION ABOUT LEFTOVER CANDY NOW – This one is critical and easy to overlook. We can do the intentional work of being mindful during the holiday and then find ourselves caught off-guard by leftovers. Go ahead and decide what you want to do the day after Halloween. Would you rather give it away or toss it in the garbage disposal? What will happen if you do neither?

Give yourself full permission to throw it all away – guilt free. It’s served its holiday purpose.

4) GIVE GRACE – No one walks this journey perfectly. If you happen to fall back into old patterns: acknowledge it, treat yourself kindly and see what you can learn from the experience. What safeguard, tool or thought might have given you a different outcome? Don’t be discouraged because relapses normal and are our very best school!

As we move toward this special time of year, decide to have a journey mindset. Be curious. Anticipate good things. Be open to discovery. Picture yourself getting stronger, wiser, freer and more peaceful with food with each passing holiday.

Each one is a part of your story.

Each one is an opportunity to know yourself better than you ever have before.

Your Food-Story Can Have a Happy Ending

sunrise-1634197_960_720This morning I was listening to a message by Barbara Brown Taylor which had nothing to do with eating. She made a powerful statement that got my attention:

“Sometimes we have to start telling a different kind of story before a different kind of future can unfold.”

BAM!!

That sums up our journey of liberated eating beautifully.

We are telling – living – a new and very different kind of story from the one we were telling ourselves during our old miserable dieting days.

We who have struggled with food, weight and body for far too long want a different future. Desperately. The old story of restrictive rule-following did not take us to the future it promised.

Not even close.

The future we want requires a story of hope and help that actually works – for the long haul. We’ve gotta have an answer that’s big enough, strong enough & flexible enough for real life.

Nothing else will do.

The good news is there is a different kind of story – a trustworthy one.  It’s a life-sized solution that’s about so much more than just losing weight. It’s built on science and wisdom instead of empty diet industry promises.

It’s about living peacefully with food through weekdays and weekends, on vacation and at home, at birthday parties and restaurants – and even when we’re stressed.

Here’s a recent example of how this different kind of story played out in my real life…

Bob and I went to Tasty’s Fresh Burgers & Fries after a fine day of kayaking; we were hungry and happy from a day spent outdoors. We both ordered a cheese burger with the works, hold the onions, and split an order of tater tots.

MY OLD DIETING STORY would’ve sounded something like this in my head:

“I should NOT be eating this fattening food!!! [it’s sooooo heavenly delicious…I can’t resist] I’m being so bad! [maybe I exercised enough today to balance things out] But… if I’m gonna be bad I might as well go ahead and blow it big. I’ll start again tomorrow […or maybe Monday].”  Then I would eat it all, quickly, completely missing much of the goodness, paying no attention to what my body was telling me, and leave feeling stuffed and guilty and defeated. Again.

MY INTUITIVE, MINDFUL STORY can now play out like this:

“This looks delicious and I’m so grateful for it! I want to be sure to show up and slow down so I can enjoy each satisfying bite…I wanna be connected to all the goodness in this meal and moment. That’s a gift I can give myself.”   No guilt. No “shoulds” or “should nots”. No drive to overeat compulsively or shamefully or quickly. Because of this freedom I can stop eating when I’m not hungry anymore. I can easily leave food behind and walk out feeling very satisfied indeed.

Developing this kind of food-peace is a journey* anyone can take.

Our old diet story, driven by deprivation and hyper-control, made food an emotionally charged substance and drove us into all-or-nothing behaviors and beliefs.

It was frenzied and small and crazy-making.

The story of liberated eating, so different from dieting, allows us to choose from an authentic place, eat from a connected place, and live from a peaceful place – which works together to allow a different kind of future to unfold…the one we’ve wanted all along.

So, yes Friend, no matter how crazy you may feel right now, your food-story can indeed have a happy ending.

*to learn more about this journey check out my book, The Liberated Eater, or email me at cindy@theliberatedeater.com.