I wanted to dig into last weeks topic of fear of food a bit more. There was a point in my life where I was finally ready to start healing the way I viewed food and my body. When you have had such a negative relationship with these things for so many years it was hard to find a place to start with it all. It took a lot of trial and error and examining people in my life who seemed to have a “normal” relationship with these things for me to finally put some pieces together and move forward.
In reflecting back there were some key steps in my recovery process. The following represent those steps and what I did in order to start healing my relationship to food and my body.
1) I needed to stop labeling food as “good” and “bad.”
In order for me to have a neutral position on food, I needed to stop seeing food as “good” and “bad.” So, I started replacing “bad/good” with this question: “what do I need to fuel my body in this moment?” Sometimes that was a kale salad, sometimes that was a bowl of ice cream. Both fueled me in a different way and I started discovering what worked for my body at each moment of the day.
Food is not bad. Food is not good. Food is just fuel.
2) I needed to look at my fear foods right in the eyes. Why was I afraid of them?
What made these foods scary? Was it my fear of carbs? Sugar? Of gaining weight? What if I could look at them differently?
3) The shiny object syndrome needed to be removed.
When I told myself I couldn’t have something, I wanted it more. I would say “I can’t have this tomorrow so I will eat all of it today.” As soon as I was able to say, “I can have this whenever I want” it made the urge to eat it all in one sitting go away.
4) Experimenting was key.
This was big. I needed to start experimenting with food again to discover what foods worked for MY body. This took implementing all of the above. It was about being curious, about trying new things, about listening to my body and its reaction to foods. And then fueling my body accordingly moving forward.
5) There are still days where I over eat to the point of beyond full. When this happens I have started replacing the negative self talk and guilt with this phrase, “well that happened” and do my best to move on.
It is allll about listening. Rather than beating myself up I have learned to practice getting curious and noticing. Next time I reach for the brownies, I will think about the time I ate too many and felt sick. I do not want to feel sick again so I will make a different choice to stop when I am full this time around. Everything is information, I don’t have to punish myself for a choice that may have been less than favorable. I can just acknowledge it, learn from it, and move forward. Turning to over exercising, or not eating the next day, or making myself feel like a terrible person was only going to put me right back into the vicious yo-yo diet, binge/restrict circle.
6) I had to relearn how to eat when I was hungry and stop when I was full.
It had been SO long since I actually listened to what my body was asking me to do. I had to relearn how to fuel myself and to stop filling up the tank when it was full of that fuel. By listening to my body, I wasn’t overeating or choosing the impulse fuel because I was sooo hungry I couldn’t wait another second. It was all about listening to my body’s cues.. It knows best. I learned to let food be simply to fuel me when I was hungry. And to not wait until I was absolutely starving to eat.
7) I started asking “why am I eating?
Was I hungry? Bored? Trying to cover up feelings? By noticing why I was putting food into my mouth, I was able to notice my patterns around when I eat and why.
8) TRUST MY BODY.
This was the most crucial, but also the most difficult step. I controlled my food and exercise because I didn’t trust my body to tell me the answers around these things. For SO many years I cut off the communication between my body and my brain and just controlled everything from the “my mind knows best” mentality. Learning how to turn that off and listen to what my body was asking for was one of the most crucial steps in my recovery process. It is all about trust. If I not trust your body it made it so hard to heal the relationship.
Of course there are still days that are difficult. Of course I do not have “perfect” thoughts around food or exercise or my body every single day. This will always be a process. All of this takes time. It takes relearning everything about your body and your thoughts and getting curious about your fears. But I promise it is worth it. The freedom, the deep, pure kind of happiness, the enjoyment, the love, the trust, the growth, the truth, the change. It is all worth it. You are worth it.
Are you ready to heal your relationship with food? With exercise? With your body? Because you have that choice. You don’t have to struggle forever. Today can be the start of it all. What are you waiting for?