Question: Sometimes I still find myself eating from a place of restriction or fear, e.g. thinking something is a ‘bad’ food from my previous ‘ways’ of eating – like noting sugar content etc. How can I remind myself that I can eat whatever I want and trust my body?
So the first thing that jumps out at me is ‘eating from a place of restriction or fear’, in other words, trying to not eat ‘bad’ food, is backfiring. It’s positive that you seem to understand this and hence want to know what to ‘do’ about it, which involves learning to be ‘ok’ with what your body wants to eat despite what society might think of the ‘choice’ you make.
Before I launch into discussing self trust for anyone new to this whole idea that ‘restriction doesn’t work’, I’ve written about this A Ton (see here and here), but for the purposes of this post, you’ve got to remind yourself that if willpower and restriction (dieting behaviours) worked there’d be a lot of people with their ‘ideal’ bodies walking around. Many subsidies of the diet industry would go bust. But the reality of the situation is this isn’t the case and sadly, nor is it likely to be. Hence the phrase “Diet’s don’t work”.
Now onto the question……
For many people the idea of ‘self trust’ is synonymous with ‘self control’ meaning they aren’t fully allowing themselves to be neutral and open minded around food. There’s still this niggling part of them that’s restricting because they are still trying to ‘control’ what they eat. In other words you can’t trust yourself fully if in part you’re still controlling what you eat.
As long as any fibre in your body is yearning for ‘control’ around food, then you’re not fully able to ‘trust’ yourself around food.
Secondly many clients tell me self trust means being ‘right’ or ‘correct’. So when they liken it to food and eating it’s about ‘making the right or correct choice’. Using these highly subjective yet black and white words ‘right’ and ‘correct’ is one way to head to ‘back-fire territory’ – because it sets you up for a ‘very- likely- negative’- emotional reaction should you ‘not’ make the ‘right’ choice….and hey, we don’t all do things ‘right’ 24/7.
In this case the first bit of advice I have for you is to eliminate the word ‘bad’ from your vocabulary and in thinking about food. When we think about food as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ we are essentially making food a moral decision, i.e. by eating this I’m either wrong/ right, good/ bad, acceptable/ not acceptable, succeeding/ failing. Certainly not the headspace or the environment you want to create for yourself while you’re trying to cultivate trust and confidence when eating.
Secondly I encourage you to get honest with yourself around what self trust means for you. Rather than make it about ‘perfection’ around food, what about defining it to be about self confidence- that in the moment what you want to eat is inherently ‘ok’. Or defining self trust to incorporate the self confidence that whatever happens with the food you decide to eat- whether it makes you feel good or not- everything is going to be ‘ok’ in the end.
The best way I learned about self trust was to focus in on the fact that cultivating the confidence to trust myself- which means taking risks, making mistakes and experiencing some highs, was actually exciting. Regardless of the outcome I always learned a thing or two…such as I actually do enjoy eggs and cheese and I really do enjoy chicken after 4 years not eating it. I now see self trust as self exploration as much as I see it about self confidence.
….If I didn’t act on the urge to eat chicken and trust that this urge was ‘ok’ I wouldn’t know to this day that I do enjoy chicken again.
….If I didn’t muster the confidence to ‘try’ I’d never know that too much spicy food makes me sit on the loo or that caffeine flares up my skin.
If you’re still struggling to work out how you can apply self trust to your food I encourage you to look beyond food and ask yourself:
What benefits will I experience by trusting myself in my life?
Where can I create some space to start trusting myself in life?
How can I start to act in a more self trusting way?
And thirdly for many of my clients while redefining what self trust means for you it’s essential in doing this work that you truly get to the bottom of what is keeping you in this “I must eat a certain way or else” frame of mind. I’m going to be presumptious and say that there’s likely to be some underlying limiting beliefs around body image and health, that is keeping you feeling like you ‘shouldn’t’ and ‘ought not’ eat certain food…hence losing your ‘confidence’ around what you truly want to be eating and being ‘ok’ with that decision.
If you want even more practical advice here’s a few bonus tips:
- Think about your vocabulary around food. Make a list of words that are just feeding the ‘diet mentality’ and make a mental note not to use them.
- Take honest inventory over your current cultural influences. For more on this check out this article I wrote for Move Nourish Believe.
- Stop over thinking. The best advice I have for you alongside doing some deep work around food and weight neutrality is to realize as an adult you have every right to make a choice about what you want to eat DESPITE what you ‘think’ you know or ‘know’ about the food.
- Just eat the food. Fear can’t coexist with success. The hardest thing is actually getting to the point where you’re in action. As Tony Robins says, behaviour modification comes when we choose to set the bar higher than where it is currently. In your case choose a food and set the bar at “I have the right to eat this and eat this I will”.
- Focus on self care. For all of my clients it’s not about the food. There’s something else going on calling your attention. Find what it is and focus on nurturing that. I.e if your job is going down the plug hole strategise how you’re going to actively to move forward (i.e. you might schedule a meeting with HR or quit).
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