Many of us are in a battle with ourselves when it comes to food. We might be fighting our weight, our body fat, our appetite, our endless thoughts about food, or the feeling of being stuck in a food prison. From this place it’s easy to spiral downwards and feel isolated and hopeless.
But there is hope, and there is a way through.
The path to healing can take time, yet it’s our willingness to be patient, have faith, and keep doing work on self that helps us find the light at the end of the tunnel.
Please consider these four tips to help you heal your relationship with food:
1. Stay Present
Most of our unwanted food habits come from an unconscious place. It’s hard to binge when you’re present with your food. When we’re present while eating, our body lets us know when it’s full. It’s hard to starve yourself if you’re truly listening to your body’s cues, because our body lets us know when it’s hungry too. But we must be awake and aware enough to hear those cues.
Awareness cures. Unwanted eating habits require that a certain part of us checks out. It’s time to check back in.
Practice slowing down with food, and with life. By the same token, as we are more present with our meals, we can become more present to feelings and emotions that are in need of our attention. Often, it’s these unattended emotions that are driving our unwanted eating concerns. Being present is a daily practice. It can be difficult, but the rewards will make themselves known over time.
2. Communicate with Your Body
Listen to your body the way you would an important person in your life. If you don’t understand its language right away, start to get curious. Learn its quirks. Your body won’t communicate verbally, but it does have a language. If every time you eat cheese you get gassy, your body may be telling you that it is having trouble digesting dairy. But if you aren’t listening, it may need to get louder before you hear the message.
Just as couples often go in for couples counseling in order to learn to communicate better, our body wants us to better communicate with it as well – this communication is one of the cornerstones of Dynamic Eating Psychology that we teach here at the Institute. We build trust with our body when we improve our communication with it.
As we learn to speak and listen to our body, and our body develops more trust that we will listen to it, we naturally relax more around food because there’s less threat. Also, make sure to listen to the body’s cues for intimacy, connection, and affection. When these needs aren’t being met, we can often confuse them with hunger cues.
3. Spend Quality Time with Food
There’s an incredible amount of energy and resources required to grow, harvest, and prepare food for consumption. From that perspective, food deserves our respect.
Spend some time in a garden. Understand what it takes for food to come from nature and get to our plates. Visit your local farmers’ market. Talk to the farmers. Create a relationship with your food and the place where it comes from.
It’s also a great practice to cook or prepare your own food, at least sometimes. In this age of processed everything, it’s easy to become disconnected from our food. Slow down. Touch your food, cook it and eat it with love. You’ll receive your energy back as you make a ritual out of eating or cooking. Have an attitude of gratitude before and during your meals.
Relate to food with an element of the sacred. You are literally taking in the planet and the cosmos when you eat. Be a little humbled by this as you partake. These habits can go a long way in healing your relationship with food.
4. Forgive Food and Forgive Yourself
Whatever your relationship with food has been, forgive it. Call a cease fire. Let the past be. You’ve done your best so far. And now it’s time to start fresh. It doesn’t mean that you’re perfect, or that you will eat perfectly. It means you are allowing for life to be imperfect.
We can start with a fresh perspective when we forgive ourselves. We let go of all the old judgments so that we can find some compassion. It’s time to truly forgive yourself for any challenges you’ve had with food and body.
Whatever drew you to fighting with food, there was a reason, but it probably had little to do with food itself. Be kind and gentle with yourself. We are each doing the best we can.
If you have trouble with food because it has become a substitute for love, self worth, or self-soothing, let yourself know it’s okay to need those comforts, and give yourself permission to have them. Understand that you are human, and appreciate that we will all have our challenges and our ups and downs. From that place, a great relationship with food can finally be yours…
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