We have all heard the statistics: 98 percent of people who lose weight by dieting gain it back within a year; 8 out of 10 women are on a diet; 9 out of 10 women are unhappy with their weight, shape or looks.
Culturally we look to food and what we eat as the greatest influence over size, shape and weight.
But statistics do not lie.
The truth is what we ingest on a daily basis is only part of the story for finding optimal health, feeling good inside your body and enjoying a robust relationship with food and yourself.
True transformation begins when we do the work to look at who we are as eaters. It’s not just WHAT we eat, it’s HOW and WHY.
Here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating we advocate taking a deeper look into you, the eater. If you are someone who has struggled for years with weight and body image it’s time for a fresh approach.
By blending the two concepts of nutrition and eating psychology you can begin to use food as a wonderful doorway into understanding deeper parts of yourself. How and why you eat becomes a bigger part of the puzzle to solving long-standing challenges.
Observe Your Thoughts
If we believe that we want to live optimally but suffer from challenging toxic beliefs about ourselves all day long it will forever be hard to change our ways. This is especially true when it comes to feeding ourselves. You simply cannot hate yourself into a body you will love.
The field of Dynamic Eating Psychology teaches us about the importance of our thoughts and their impact on our health, weight, behavior and ultimately our happiness.
Take a few moments in your day to observe your inner monologue. Are you speaking kindly toward yourself? Are your thoughts understanding and forgiving of your mistakes? Do you value the body you walk in? Do you appreciate your contributions to the world?
Our thoughts about ourselves create all of our feelings. Thoughts and feelings drive behavior. An inner monologue that is toxic, punishing, and extreme will most likely drive the opposite behavior of what you are looking for. It’s a challenge to eat well and exercise when you are criticizing yourself on the inside all day long.
The first step toward learning to reframe your thoughts is simply to begin to connect with your inner monologue. Notice your thoughts. If you are being hard on yourself perhaps it’s time to cultivate a little more self-love. Loving thoughts will always get you closer to where you want to go both with your body and in your life.
You Are the Expert of You
The field of Mind Body Nutrition teaches us that our bodies are wonderful receptacles of wisdom and information. By learning to tune into and connect with our bodies on a regular basis we can increase the chances of reaching our health goals and loving the bodies we live in!
Learning to listen to your body is the very best tool you have in your tool kit to reach your natural weight. By eating when you are hungry and learning to stop when you are just starting to feel full you will never have to diet again. Ever.
This does not mean that you should not be mindful of the type of food you eat. Of course, eat as much fresh, organic food as possible. But once you understand your body’s messages you can begin to deepen and transform your relationship with food in ways you never imagined.
Our bodies can tell us how much food to eat, whether a particular food is good for us, whether we are tired, whether we are stressed. All we have to do is listen and respect the messages.
To determine whether a particular food is good for you, observe your body a couple hours after you have eaten. Do you feel tired? Do you feel sluggish and foggy brained? These are messages that this food does not sit well with you. On the other hand, does your meal leave you feeling vibrant, energetic, clear-headed and focused? Choose these foods and you have taken another step toward optimal health.
Stress Less, Relax More
Ok, easier said than done. But the state of our body and what we expect of it has profound implications for our metabolism and ability to assimilate nutrition. If you are walking through the world on overdrive every single day you may be challenged to reach your health goals even with the most pristine diet.
What does stress do to our bodies? It causes us to hang onto weight, for one, by flooding our bodies with cortisol and stress hormones. It’s doing what it’s meant to do – signaling to our brains that we are in flight or fight, shutting down digestion, storing fat and not building muscle. We are in protection mode.
So imagine what happens when we face chronic stress due to thoughts, jobs, relationships or money? It becomes very difficult to reach any health goal, particularly weight loss.
While living with some amount of stress is nearly always a given there are certain steps you can take to give your body the best environment for boosting your metabolism and improving your health.
Choose actions that help bring your body into a more relaxed state. Focus on this particularly when you are eating. Sit down at a table. Be present with your food. Even more radical: enjoy your food! Cultivate mindfulness and watch, as you not only begin to enjoy eating but feel better as a result.
When it comes to the field of eating psychology you are not just what you eat. You are also a product of how and why you eat. By entering into a deeper relationship with yourself and food – listening to your body, cultivating mindfulness and observing your thoughts – you can reach health goals you may never have imagined. And you may actually enjoy yourself along the way!
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