Last week I talked about some of the (many!) reasons why diets don’t work.
A huge pattern I’ve noticed is that people do not trust themselves around food.
They believe that if left to their own devices they would begin eating and never stop.
This reinforces the need for someone — an expert, a coworker, a friend — to tell them what and when and how much to eat.
I was like this for many years. I felt downright out-of-control around food, like my hunger was completely insatiable.
So I get the trepidation you may feel about the following recommendations, but stay with me.
They come from author, Geneen Roth, who’s spent her life healing her own relationship with food and sharing her insights through books, workshops and retreats.
These Seven Steps to Freedom With Food, which work to the degree that you work them, ensure that you’re paying attention — really listening to your body and what it’s hungry for. With time and practice, you will develop a level of self-trust that trumps any expert advice you could receive.
Seven Steps to Freedom With Food
- Eat when your body is hungry.
- Eat sitting down in a calm environment (this does not include the car).
- Eat without distractions (i.e. screens of any kind, radio/podcasts, reading material or anxiety-provoking conversations).
- Eat only what your body (not what your mind) wants.
- Eat until you are satisfied.
- Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others (i.e. no sneaking).
- Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.
As Geneen says, these Seven Steps “take you all the way through.” They start with your bodily hunger and take you to what you’re truly hungry for.
Also, because they are so precise, they often bring up the beliefs, thoughts and behaviour patterns that aren’t necessarily about food, but enter into your relationship with food.
She recounts one retreat student who, while paying complete attention, wanted to eat a brownie so badly.
Upon further questioning, it turned out that her mother had recently died and she was afraid that if she let herself really feel the grief, she would fall apart.
That’s a story about a feeling. Nobody has ever died from expressing their feelings.
When they examined it further, she cried about her mother. But she also cried about the suffering that she had inflicted upon herself by stuffing her feelings down with brownies. By gaining weight and being uncomfortable in her body. By compromising her health and happiness.
The message she was giving herself was: feelings are bad. Feelings are unworkable.
So in these seven steps, we get to see all of the beliefs we plaster onto food.
I’d love to hear if you apply these steps and how they work for you. Which one is the easiest? How about the most difficult? Have you learned anything about yourself, your thoughts or your behaviour? I welcome your comments below.