Could That Craving Be A Friend In Disguise?

The dreaded craving.                                                                                                                    sundae

Sometimes it’s a nagging whisper that you NEED a Blizzard. Sometimes, a demanding tyrant ordering you to drive through that drive-thru, or else!

Cravings feel like a powerfully intimidating voice from within.

But have you ever wondered if that forceful pull might mean something?

If it had a language what might it say?

What is it really asking for?

And what if you listened and then gave that to yourself?

What if the craving is your deepest-you knocking on your own heart’s door?

Could it be your own curious mind asking you to add something new and interesting to your life? Or maybe your amazing body letting you know she’s hungry for a new challenge or adventure.

Sometimes a rut can feel a lot like a craving.

We already know cravings aren’t really about the food. It certainly feels like it’s about the food – the sweet Bluebell, the salty Ruffles, the warm macaroni and cheese – but when we’re craving something to eat and our body is not in need of fuel, it has to be about something else – something other than fuel.

Pleasure perhaps? That’s a reasonable possibility – but what kind of pleasure exactly? My guess is that food is often a quick and easy counterfeit for the pleasure our minds or souls or bodies really crave. We are, after all, made for rich, full, whole-hearted living. Everything in us longs to create, to discover, to commune, to cultivate, to keep learning and growing – but our habitually busy schedules and noisy screen-filled lives can drown out our deepest desires. Drown out perhaps – but never drown.

Our deepest desires continue to call to us.

So here’s the compelling invitation before us. Next time you have a craving, instead of silencing the screaming child in your brain with Kettle chips, sit with her a moment – and lovingly listen. Meander down the road of your mind and look around, like an eager hiker on a new path – curious and alert.

Ask yourself some searching questions. What is this craving really about? Is there a craving behind the craving? Genuine heart connection? Engaged companionship? A new and interesting pursuit? Some good ol’ fun? Grief unexpressed? Could your bright mind be hungry to tackle some new venture? Or your soul thirsty for quiet reverence?

Perhaps my persistent cravings are really my deepest self yelling “Hey, if you aren’t gonna do anything stimulating you could at least get me an ice cream sundae. I’m dying of boredom in here! ”

So here’s an exciting invitation next time a craving comes beating on our door:

Stop a moment.
Create some room for silence.
Put your ear down close to yourself.
Just listen.

Become a curious and open explorer of your own inner life. This might feel weird at first – even scary. And you may not hear a thing the first go’round, but even if nothing specific surfaces I bet your deep self will appreciate your kind time and attention.

When we give into a craving without exploring first, we may be missing an opportunity to give ourselves what we truly desire.

This is rich work – work that dieting never ever invited us into. We might discover that our cravings have profound meaning after all. What if these cravings you’ve hated and battled for so long turn out to be a friend – nothing short of the beginning of you knowing and loving yourself like you never have before?

Now wouldn’t that be amazing…

Get Out of Your Emotional Eating Rut

roadI often talk to people who are trying very hard to STOP something. They want to stop eating emotionally or stop eating after dinner or stop snacking at their desk, or stop going through the drive-thru after work. They’re exhausted from the struggle.

The first thing we need to know is that behavior change is quite possible; there is always a way through, and together we can figure it out.

Second, we need to understand this fundamental point:

Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does human nature.

If you want to stop doing something, make sure you start doing something else in its place. Replace the negative behavior with a positive one. If you don’t put something else in its place you will end up defaulting to your old behavior. Muscling through only works as long as your willpower lasts – and as we all know, willpower eventually runs out.

It’s usually much easier to start doing new things than it is to stop doing old things, and – this is cool – when we start doing things that work the things that don’t work tend to naturally fall away.

Important Change Principle: Choice empowers us.

Let’s take EMOTIONAL EATING as an example. If I want to stop reaching for food when I feel stressed I’ll need to have other stress-relieving choices easily available – choices that meet the same need eating does, only without the side-effect of regretting it later.

POWERFUL EXERCISE: Have choices ready that fit you. Stop, think and write down some things you can turn to next time you’re emotionally uncomfortable.

MAKE A LIST.  BE SPECIFIC.  FIND THINGS YOU CAN USE AT HOME & AT WORK:

  1. ACTIVITIES – List several things you enjoy doing that distract, please or refresh you. [ex: stroll, crossword puzzle, ride bike, solitaire, whittle, magazines, music] Have these things close by.
  2. PLACES – List places that help you calm down. [park, swing, your room, back yard]
  3. PEOPLE – List some positive people you can call anytime, people to whom you can vent your feelings or who make you laugh.
  4. WORDS – Write down some inspiring thoughts that encourage and strengthen you – could be poetry, scripture, quotes, lyrics, etc.
  5. RELAXATION TECHNIQUES – heating pad, yoga poses, back scratcher, deep breathing, etc

CLICK HERE FOR MORE RELAXING IDEAS

Now that you have your list – the next step is very important…

POST IT where you will see it.

Do not underestimate the power of this list. These choices give you POWER. These choices give you options. They keep you from falling into the old default behavior of overeating, and then hating yourself for it later.

Choices change our lives.

Remember, human nature abhors a vacuum. If you stop turning to food when you feel sad, stressed or bored but you don’t have something else to put in its place, it’s just a matter of time before you’re standing in the pantry or in front of the vending machine.

Have your choices ready at all times.

Picture a well-worn dirt road from “Little House on the Prairie”. There are deep ruts made by traveling this way for years. In fact, it’s difficult to take a wagon down this road without falling into them, and once you’ve fallen in its mighty hard to get out.

However, when you fill the ruts with new gravel – everything changes.

So, stop, think, make your list, post it in plain sight – and start being empowered to take good care of your amazing self!

 

Note: When it comes to emotional eating there is another important piece of the puzzle. Our reoccurring uncomfortable emotions are usually red flags that are trying to tell us that something needs our attention. If you continue to be pushed to eat to cope with your feelings, then it may be time to take a good look at the “why” behind the feelings…the why behind the why.

Feelings come up for a reason. Acknowledging them, being honest about them and listening to them is the first step to handling them well. If you want to explore this further, I’m on your team.

How Can I Stop My Emotional Eating?!?

iiiGreat question! For those of us who’ve struggled with food, eating can sooth raw emotions, numb pain, distract, entertain, befriend and comfort – temporarily. And of course, therein lies the rub. As much as we want comfort in the moment we also want to feel good in our body for life. 

I received this concern in an email just yesterday: “Liberated Eating works great for me…until I get sad/lonely or overwhelmed and then I just don’t care. I keep sabotaging myself and regretting it. What can I do?”

Can’t we all relate! The good news is there are many effective strategies for dealing with this. Here are just a few, in no particular order:

  • Take 5  Emotional eating tends to be automatic. It’s a well-worn pattern and our default go-to. But what if you asked yourself to wait just 5 minutes? You aren’t saying NO, you’re just saying WAIT. A speed bump of sorts. While you’re waiting, check in. How are you feeling? What’s going on? Having a better understanding of your feelings takes you from the crazy free-fall to some solid ground. Even if you end up choosing to eat anyway you’ll have a better understanding of why. This breaks the mindless auto-cycle and sets you up for making different choices next time. Remember, we’re in this for the long haul.
  • Have 2 in your queue – Have 2 comforting choices in your tool belt at all times. Go ahead and pick two things that make you feel better. Have these tools ready when you need them. When you’re uncomfortable and i-don’t-care-right-now is screaming loudly in your head, you can say something like this to yourself: “I feel ________ and I just might eat, but first I’m going to do one other thing that I know comforts me. I’ve got real choices here.”

You might listen to three favorite songs, take a 10 minute stroll, call a friend, play with a pet, enjoy a bath, ride a bike, do some coloring or read something fun. The trick is to have effective options ready when you need them.

Choices are powerful. We’re building new coping skills and giving ourselves the option of being comforted in a way that we will not regret later.

  • Exchange EITHER/OR thinking for BOTH/AND thinking We tend to think we only have two choices. I either “eat right” or I binge. I’ve either been good or I’ve been bad. That’s the old diet mentality talking. Actually there are a lot of options between these two extreme points.

Rather than eating a ton or not eating anything you could decide to comfort yourself with food and enjoy it completely – no guilt, no regret – just straight up “I’m eating this for comfort right now and I’m going to enjoy it”. This is permission to both hold to your mindfulness and eat for comfort.

If you keep your liberated eating mindset intact you can enjoy your comfort eating experience. Perhaps one bowl of ice cream will do the trick instead of standing in the kitchen eating out of the carton. As we leave all-or-nothing behind the old default setting will dim.

  • Take the 20,000 foot view – Seeing the big picture is enlightening and encouraging! True lifestyle change is not a straight line. In fact, it’s supposed to be bumpy. As we keep practicing, stumbling, learning, and recalibrating things will get smoother.

Imagine going way up high and looking down on your life-long food journey – you will see that the “mess-ups” get less intense over time; they get farther and farther apart; they don’t knock you for a loop like they used to. In time, the stormy seas settle down to sunshine with occasional waves.

In the beginning we may fall back into old patterns regularly, but this is not failure; it is the rightful path of true change. It takes time to exchange old patterns for new ones.

If we don’t understand how change works we can think we’ve failed each time we haven’t been “perfect” – which of course leads to despair and probably another binge. Get comfortable with messy. I’m 15 years into recovery and occasionally I still eat like I used to, but now I think “Hmmm, wonder what that was about?” instead of “OH NOOOO, I’m a big fat failure!!!”

So please, give yourself room to be human, to be in process. In fact, let’s take it a step further; how about we relax and enjoy this journey for what it truly is:

an amazing, meaningful, adventure of discovery!

Let us know your favorite strategies…

Why Can't I Stop Overeating ?!?

One of the most frequently researched questions online is “Why can’t I stop overeating?”

ooooThe frustration in this question is heartbreaking, and it’s exactly the question I asked myself for over thirty years. Of course there isn’t one tidy little answer for each of us; the answers will be as varied as we are – but – there are some common factors that cause us to feel out of control with food.

  1. 1. DIETING MAKES US EAT LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE (even though we’re not)   Eating too little always leads to eating too much, eventually. Self imposed starvation causes your body and mind to feel alarmed and to overreact, setting up the diet-binge cycle. Not only is dieting completely ineffective longterm, it actually damages your relationship with food and your body in the process. There are psychological and biological reasons we are compelled to overeat after a peroid of under-eating.
  2. BINGE EATING, CRAVINGS & COMPULSIVE EATING PATTERN   The perceived strength of the powerful urge to overeat feels overwhelming, convincing us that we’re powerless against it. After giving into it for years, weakened by our exhausting attempts at dieting, we falsely believe that now we have no choice.
  3. LACK OF CONFIDENCE    Each of us has our own personal story, temperament and negative self-talk which can undermine our self-confidence. We also falsely feel weak and incapable after years of unsuccessful dieting, even though it’s dieting that’s at fault.
  4. EMOTIONAL EATING    Eating to manage emotions feels good in the moment – lighting up the brain’s pleasure centers like firecrackers! After years of eating emotionally it can feel impossible to imagine coping with uncomfortable feelings in any other way, even though there are many more effective ways of handling our big emotions.
  5. PROCESSED SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES    Highly processed foods containing a lot of white flour and sugar can highjack our blood sugar and insulin levels – sending them on a roller-coaster ride. Natural fiber and nutrients are removed (and hyper-tasty artificial ingredients added) in the refining process. These manufactured foods break down very quickly in the body, causing us to crave more and more*.
  6. TOP REASON: WE DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW CHANGE WORKS.     Most people believe that they’re supposed to move forward perfectly, once they’ve decided to change things. In reality, true change is messy and multi-directional – and it is supposed to be. In order to make life changes you have to be willing to mess up and continue on. A lot.

Truth reminder:

You can reach a comfortable weight in spite of your obstacles. You are strong and resilient. You have choices. You are not alone.

And you don’t have to do this perfectly. No one does.

Armed with solid tools and truths like TLE 12 lesson downloadable workshop, with support like our TLE Membership  and with a bit of a sense of humor – you can make the changes you want to make!

Which of these reasons do you relate to most?

 

*For more info read Always Hungry? by Dr. David Ludwig.

 

Where Our Brain Path Leads…

“HELP, I CAN’T STOP EATING LIKE A CRAZY PERSON!!!”

Where Our Brain Path LeadsEvery time I hear this statement I deeply empathize with the helpless frustration on the other end of the phone. This was my life – me and two-thirds of the western world. So why is it that once we’ve pulled onto the dieting/compulsive/emotional eating superhighway it’s so darn hard to stop and just get off?

There are many reasons – psychological and physiological. Here let’s take a quick look at something that happens in our brain:

The Brain Path – Think of your brain as a forest where trails are worn down by hiking along the same path over and over again – day after day, month after month, year after year. Running through the drive-thru when you feel bored or stressed creates pathways that become wider and deeper as they are repeatedly traveled. With each emotional or mindless eating experience it becomes more and more natural to head in that direction. That well-traveled path eventually becomes a road, and then a highway through your brain. The strong pull to eat becomes our automatic default. It just feels natural to turn onto the Gotta-Eat-Something-Now superhighway.

The good news is that we can build new interstates in our brain! And as we do, the old compulsive eating freeway will grow over with vines and briars and eventually mighty oaks. In time we will almost forget it was even there.

With a clear motivation, some caring support and the right tools – you can have yourself a brand new path started in no time. That brain path will become a road, and eventually a new superhighway taking you exactly where you want to go…

To feeling great!
   To having energy!
      To pants that fit just right…
                                                                        and to priceless peace of mind.