When I was struggling with food, I can’t count how many mornings I woke up making yet another promise to myself to “be good” with food that day.
Actually, it was more like a fearful plea… “Please, God, let this be a good food day.”
And then would come the Food Police laying down the rules… “OK so if I only have coffee and one slice of toast for breakfast and then don’t eat again til lunch, then I can have a small sandwich on light bread, but I’d better not have the cheese, and then maybe a fat-free yogurt or protein bar in the afternoon, but I WON’T eat anything else until dinner, and so maybe I can have a half a cup of pasta or a glass of wine with my meal, etc. etc. etc.”
But it wasn’t long before my physical hunger or my sense of deprivation overtook me and I would break one of the rules, and then all bets were off.
I’d end up in box of donuts or all the rest of the kids’ leftover pizza and go to bed feeling like a total loser because I couldn’t control my appetite, only to wake up, rinse and repeat the cycle all over again.
It was F-ing crazy making. What I didn’t realize at the time was I was actually setting myself up for failure.
The problem is that most of what’s out there in the nutrition and weight loss world has primed us to believe that we can’t trust our appetite. That it must be feared and controlled. (News flash, positioning food and appetite as the enemy puts you in a fight or flight response 3-5 times per day and signals your body to store weight!) And the biological and soul urge to survive always trumps willpower.
So if you’ve been sharing your morning coffee (with splenda and nonfat milk) with the psycho Food Police and you’re ready to bail yourself out of that hellacious mental jail cell, here are 2 steps to help you reclaim your permission to live and eat fearlessly:
1. Make friends with your appetite
You are going to have an appetite. You are going to have hunger. Every Day. Rather than resist it, see if you can lean into it, be grateful for it’s presence – it’s one of the things that keeps you alive! As my mentor says, how would life be if you went around trying to hold your breath all day long? You can never beat a force of nature.
2. Ditch the rule-making
What’s the old saying… “Rules were made to be broken?” We always want what we can’t have… right?
Look, I’m all for good planning, but making rules about what you will/won’t/can/can’t eat all day is a surefire way to create food obsession and send your true natural, healthy appetite totally out of whack.
Rather than make a bunch of rules that you are likely to break and end up feeling crappy about yourself, why not choose to trust yourself moment to moment to know what would be most nourishing?
This was a HUGE shift that helped me emancipate myself from the Food Police and make peace with my appetite. I made it a personal practice, and still do to this day. As soon as I notice my mind making up rules for my next meal, I simply notice it and replace it with this affirmation:
“I trust myself to choose my nourishment in the present moment, when I get there.”
Talk about liberation!
The truth is you CAN trust your appetite, in fact it’s very wise. But making promises you can’t keep every day is not the way to cultivate that trust. Make the choice to set yourself up for success rather than failure by accepting and embracing the fact that you have an appetite, starting today.
Food for Thought: If you’re trying to control your appetite with food, where else are you putting the brakes on your appetite or desires in other areas of life? Leave me a comment below and let me know!