GET HEALTHY BY TALKING SWEET
Say you're in the passenger seat of your best friend's car. She takes a wrong turn. How do you respond? Do you berate her? Tell her she's stupid and that she never does anything right? Probably not. You probably say something like, "It's okay, we can just take the next turn". So why then would you speak to yourself like this? Our response to ourselves can be just plain mean. This negative feedback loop might be the reason why you have a hard time losing weight and keeping it off.
My inner dialogue used to go a little something like this “Why are you eating that? You’re never going to be thin. People are looking at you and thinking that this is why you’re fat. Drink water instead, fatty”. I wasn’t fat. I just wasn’t happy with my body and didn’t know how to lose weight. I wasn’t body shamed as a kid. I wasn’t bullied. It took me awhile to figure out why this was the narrative. Most of it I blame on media, business and society. The pressure we feel as women to be thin can be absolutely unbearable. So unbearable even that it is that pressure that pushes us to eat poorly.
It is this negative feedback loop of talking mean to ourselves about what we're going to eat and the mixed emotions that accompany eating foods that can cause us to rebel against ourselves.
Changing the inner dialogue IS EVERYTHING! If you’re speaking negatively to yourself about food, THEN YOU ARE GOING TO INSTINCTIVELY AND EVEN UNKNOWINGLY REBEL AGAINST THAT NEGATIVITY. And often times, we end up rebelling against that negativity by eating those types of foods again. It’s a weird cycle because its convoluted and confusing. And you can change it. It is just a habit.
I honestly believe that I am and have been 15 pounds lighter than I always was because I have changed how I talk to myself regarding food.
Changing the relationship of how we relate to food that we eat means changing our silent verbal habits. Many clients throughout the years have confessed that they speak negatively to themselves regarding "bad" foods. What's your inner dialogue like concerning food? What do you say to yourself when you are in the midst of deciding whether to eat a food you feel conflicted about? What do you say while you eat it? What do you say after you eat it? Did you get to enjoy the food?
There are no good or bad foods. “Good" and “bad" foods are constructs that we have created. Rather, foods e(a)ffect our bodies in certain ways. How we react to certain foods, emotionally, is usually the source of distress. All too often we use food and exercise as a means of beating ourselves up, rewarding ourselves, swallowing our own feelings, filling a void, escaping, deflection and even sabotage. So, yes, eating foods in a healthy way (that feels good for us) is and can be a lifetime journey. It seems simple enough…eat healthy foods. Yet, our relationship with food(s) can be complex, layered and confusing. So I just want to say, BE KIND :) If you find yourself saying mean things to yourself concerning the act of putting food into your mouth, try writing down those thoughts. Seeing our thoughts on paper can have a positive lasting effect because it brings truth to our experience, thus allowing us to feel like we have been heard. Compassion for oneself starts with acceptance of our experience - whatever that may be.
I used to take yoga mostly so that I could hear the encouraging words at the end of class; the direction, the lack of judgement, the acceptance part. The compassion part because I SO NEEDED THAT. And still do, but now I've learned how to give it to myself. Why is compassion so hard? When we've learned to stay strong no matter what, compassion can feel like a weakness. Yet it is compassion that allows us to move forward, to accept, to tolerate and to let be. I wasn’t able to lose weight until I accepted myself for myself in that moment. Those moments then turned into a healthier habit of kindness towards self. And only through that compassion of self was I able to change the negative feedback loop associated with the complexities of eating food...
Nutrition is a tricky one and hard to talk about. Eating food is such a personal experience that it is often never really discussed amongst women in a positive way. Yet, now is always the time to start to speak more kindly to yourself in this endless journey of your relationship with food. It is never too late to silently speak sweetly to yourself :)