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Changing Your Eating Behaviour

Change is something I think about quite a lot – since I’m in the business of helping people to change. Our focus is on changing eating behaviour – but as clients quickly learn – it’s not so much about the food, or the weight – it’s about how you relate to yourself, to others and to life… we simply use the relationship with food and body as the lens through which we do our work. Here are two change models to consider: The Mechanical-Replacement Model This is the ‘traditional’ model of change… where you consult an expert, who gives you a diagnosis, a plan of action, and a date by which the change will be complete. Success is determined by the end result. For example, if your lawnmower isn’t working, or you’re refurbishing your home (just don’t bank on the date by which the change will be complete! Haha… says the wife of an architect ;)). This model of change is very tempting to humans who want change. It’s something we’d all LOVE, isn’t it? Imagine – you go to a professional, who tells you why you’re struggling to eat ‘normally,’ lays out a plan of action which you follow diligently, until your pre-determined programme is complete. Et voila. Peaceful Eater emerges at the other end of it. Sounds like a diet, doesn’t it? What this doesn’t leave room for is YOU: your individual nature; your individual mind-body connection, your blocks, your priorities, your pace, your willingness, your circumstances, your unique way of processing and your resistances. You are not a machine. The Mechanical-Replacement approach to change has some...

3 Emotional Nutrients to Boost Your Eating Experience

Emotional nutrients??? We often think in terms of physical nutrients to boost our immune system or to boost our energy levels – but we rarely, if ever, think in terms of ’emotional nutrients’ when it comes to eating. I define emotional nutrients to be emotions that boost your well-being. Here are 3 you can start incorporating into your eating experience, today. I’m curious to know what happens for you. Calm Infuse calmness into your meal. Take 3-5 long, slow breaths, focusing only on the feeling of breathing. This switches on the relaxation response. When you are more relaxed, you’ll eat more slowly, you’ll digest better and you’ll be more able to tune in to your hunger and fullness cues. If you’re not feeling any sense of calm after those few breaths, keep breathing a little longer, and keep bringing your attention back to your breath if you get distracted by thoughts and feelings. It may be that something has happened which is triggering anxiety, worry, anger, etc. Say to yourself ‘I’m experiencing [whichever feeling].’ You don’t have to name the emotion. You can simply describe the sensations in your body. It may be that your mind is racing. If that’s the case, say to yourself ‘I notice my mind is racing. I’m having a lot of thoughts about….[see if you can categorise the type of thinking in a short phrase].’ In this way, you’re stepping into the role of Observer or Witness of your experience, rather than being wrapped up in it. Ask yourself if you can let those thoughts and feelings go. If you can’t, can you simply...

The Value of Non-Negotiables in Healing from Food Obsession

“Decide that there’s a bottom line, that you have basic needs, and they are non-negotiable.” Geneen Roth Your Basic Needs Many people with problematic eating behaviours are using food to meet needs that have nothing to do with physical hunger. These needs may be physical, for example: feeling tired is actually a need for rest; feeling cold – the need is for physical warmth; or when ill, eating can distract from or comfort the discomfort. Or they may be emotional. For example, a need for safety/ security; a need for belonging; a need for love/acceptance, a need for play/pleasure etc. I’ve written quite extensively on my blog about the importance of understanding and meeting your needs. Here’s one. As you become more aware of the needs you meet with food, you’ll find some show up more often than others. This points to something – it points to the needs that are requiring your attention. In my experience, it’s likely you will continue to overeat until you begin to meet your needs appropriately and consistently – because food can only meet one deep need: the need for nutritional sustenance. That’s not to say that it shouldn’t also be used to celebrate, or to comfort emotional distress from time to time – but if you’re reading this, it’s likely food is being used as a stand in for aspects of your own self-care. About Non-Negotiables When I was seriously working on resolving my eating issues, I noticed that rest was a need I was often meeting with extra food. I decided to be proactive about it. Instead of waiting for the next time I...

Knowing Your Limits and Emotional Overeating

Do you overstep your limits? Perhaps the question to ask first is this: do you know what and where your limits are? This is something that has taken me a while to learn – and honestly, I’m still learning. I’m not sure that we can ever get this piece ‘right’ because knowing what and where your limits are shifts as things in your life shift. Respecting your limits requires awareness, attention and adjustment. What sorts of limits am I talking about? the hours you work (for payment, in the home, voluntarily) what you give to others (time, money, support) your acceptance of other people’s irrational, reactionary or judgemental attitudes and/or behaviour your physical and emotional energy Limits can expand or contract Your limits can expand – for example if you get a raise, a bonus or come into some money, your limit for giving money might expand. If you’re on holiday, your limit for other people’s ‘stuff’ may expand, because you are more relaxed, and away from other things that draw on that resource. Your limits can contract too, in order to make room for your shifting priorities and new things occurring in your life. If you’ve just had a baby your limits for other people’s sh*t will change while you’re getting less sleep. If you’ve just started a new job, the limits on your physical and emotional energy will shift as you adjust to new routines, new people, new office politics and new expectations. If your partner goes off on a trip and isn’t there to help with the domestic things, your limits will again change. It’s part of...

Peaceful Eating and the Price of Perfection

Peace or Perfection? Your choice. If you want peace with food, and peace with your body, but you’ve spent a long time striving for the perfect body (whatever that happens to be according to current Beauty Standards), and the perfect diet (according to the latest book/ celebrity ), then at some point you’ll need to make a choice between striving for perfection, or cultivating peace. I say striving for perfection, because in truth, perfection is an illusion, isn’t it? When is anything ever perfect? Is perfection ever possible to achieve, given that the goal posts for a perfect body, or a perfect plate are continuously shifting? Striving for perfection – whether it’s in what, when or how much you eat, how much or how well you move your body, your grooming, your performance at work, being a parent, or fulfilling any role is inherently stressful. It will always come at a price. Since stress and peace can’t co-exist – the price of perfection is your peace. The question is: are you willing to pay that price? And are you willing to pay the price even though perfection is an illusion? What price are you willing to pay for the illusion of perfection? Are you willing to feel continually stressed about everything you eat and drink – from the time you open your eyes in the morning, to the time you fall asleep at night? Are you willing to push yourself to exercise in ways you believe will create the physique you want (but might not), when you’re not enjoying it, or even hating doing it, when you’re tired, injured, or have lost your...

Is Fat But Fit a Big Fat Myth?

Fat And Fit? On Wednesday, 17th May, an article was published in the UK media entitled: ‘Fat but fit is a big fat myth.’ Sigh. If there’s one thing that pisses me off, it’s misleading journalism. I understand the pull for catchy titles that make the reader want to click on the article (I do that myself), but I deeply object when it’s misleading, scaremongering and potentially harmful. Before I get into the study itself, I feel pulled to point out the ‘but’ in the title. Why fat but fit? It’s as if fat in and of itself is a bad thing, but if you’re fit, then that at least does something to ameliorate the horror of the fatness. What about fat and fit? That would be a less loaded title, don’t you think? The ‘Findings’ The Guardian had a more comprehensive take on this study. Take a look at it if you’re interested; though here’s a precis: The study involved examining the health records of 3.5 million people in the UK, from 1995 to 2015, who didn’t have coronary heart disease at the start of the research period (1995). They divided them into groups according to their BMI (yes, eyeroll, BMI is not an indicator of health) and whether they had any metabolic abnormalities (diabetes, high blood pressure and/or abnormal blood fats). The results of the study showed that obese individuals who appeared healthy at the start of the research period, had a 50% higher risk of coronary heart disease than people of ‘normal’ weight. They had a 7% increased risk of cerebrovascular disease – problems affecting the blood supply to the brain – which can cause a stroke, and...