How to break free from diet thinking
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.
I’ve been thinking about the women I want to help and why I decided to start My Body Positive. Like a lot of business women I meet now, my work stems from a desire to help people get out of a trap I was once in myself.
I don’t know how much you know about me.
You might have just happened upon this blog for the first time. In case you have, let me explain that I am VERY familiar with the desire to lose weight. I felt from an early age that to be slim meant that I would be accepted and loved and that everything would be ok. I’d get the husband, great job, happy life that I dreamed of.
I wasn’t ‘overweight’ as a young child. I think it started when my parents divorced, but to be honest I’m not sure and there isn’t anyone left to ask. I do know that I sought solace in the biscuit tin and learnt to use food as a coping mechanism for things I found difficult. I didn’t understand this at the time but it was like a compulsion, to get to the cupboard and find those biscuits. And they would be gone pretty quickly.
I can remember acutely, the feelings of self-loathing and that I had ‘messed up’ because I was supposed to be being ‘good’ and not eating those things. At age 10.
Fast forward through my school days and there were periods of huge self-control where I lost weight and became the size I thought I ‘should’ be but these were inevitably followed by longer periods of total abandonment. I would eat and eat and eat. I wouldn’t make myself sick or anything, I would just eat. Way more than I needed. And I would feel bad about myself then as well. I would keep thinking that I had to ‘get back on track’. ‘Had to get back to it’ but ‘just one more day of eating what I wanted’, just one more….and so it continued.
My whole headspace was full of thinking about food.
Whether it was thinking I needed to stop overeating, or start dieting, it was all about food and my weight. It’s painful to think about now and part of me feels scared, sharing this, but I do it because I know how painful it is. And I equally know, there are so many women out there feeling a lot of those thoughts.
They think that losing weight will make life better, make them better people. And I understand why, because that is the message we are sold. If you look good, you fit in. You can buy clothes, you can enjoy life, 'once you lose the weight'…..you only need to look at the magazines in the newsagent to see that.
Trouble is, it’s not true!
I realise this probably feels ‘out there’ to many of you. We buy in to the false promises and don’t realise that the diet industry is cashing in on our ‘failure’ at dieting. In one of my workshops last week, someone said she’d failed at dieting because she couldn’t stick to one for more than a couple of days. But actually, it’s dieting that fails us. Our bodies are not meant to be moulded.
I know when I was in ‘diet land’, I felt certain that my body was wrong and if I dieted, then my body would be ok. I had problems with particular bits of it, for example my stomach, which is not the flat, six pack variety, more the rounded, fleshy, padded variety! I would look at it in horror and feel disgusted.
When you are larger than the ‘average’ person you carry around a certain amount of shame as well as the weight. You feel unworthy and undesirable. That sends you down a downward spiral. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t need to stay in that cycle because there is a way out….a way of doing this differently.
For me, finding Mindful Eating was like a breath of fresh air.
I finally understood that a lot of my eating behaviour was about diet thinking, and feeling bad about myself. Mindful eating helped me take the focus OFF weight loss and that was such a joy.
I could start to enjoy food again, without feeling guilty whenever I ate something ‘nice’. I could learn to listen to my body and identify when I was hungry and use this to guide my eating decisions. I could eat what I wanted! Words can’t explain how freeing this was for me, because I’d felt bad about food for so long.
It doesn’t mean giving up on health either. It means eating well because you want to look after your body, so a subtle shift from “I’m not allowed this” (which, if you are anything like me, makes you want it EVEN MORE!) to “I don’t want this because I know I’ll feel bad in my body if I do” (so, I am choosing whether to have it or not). Plus, I don’t need to overeat like I used to because the foods I like aren’t going anywhere. I’m not about to embark on a diet, so I can have the thing when I want it.
So, Mindful Eating is about approaching our relationship with food differently.
It is a very self-compassionate process, looking at increasing awareness of our eating behaviours and treating ourselves kindly. If we become less self-judgemental, we can make positive change more easily. Who has ever made long lasting change from hating themselves? Not me.
If you’d like to book a free, no obligation chat with me to explore how I can help you, please do so via this link: