aka How you do anything is how you do everything.
aka Why didn’t willpower work?
Let me ask you this? Have you ever tried sticking to a diet before? How’d that work out for ya?
Dieting takes willpower. And in my experience it doesn’t work.
I’ve tried a number of them.
The South Beach Diet, the Leek Soup diet from ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’. I’ve tried eating only Superfoods.
They lasted from all of 2 hours (the leek soup was so boring and bland I ended up binging a few hours later) to maybe 2 weeks of eating cottage cheese and pineapple for lunch.
The problem with diets, is that you very rarely get to give yourself what you really want. It’s a condoned form of Deprivation.
When your desires are parked over there… with chocolate cake, burgers and fries, and buttered bagels… and all you’re giving yourself is cottage cheese and leeks, you are left wanting.
It’s a simple equation.
-10 +1 = -9 = still in lack
-10 + 10 = 0 = whole = complete = satisfied
I tried the different diets and restrictive eating in the years I was still purging. I was desperate for a solution and it was worth a shot.
The irony is, that what actually led to healing my relationship with food, was the complete opposite of your typical diet.
I had to let myself eat everything.
I know, you’re like, ‘Woah!’ Everything? Including Twinkies? And Pork Scratchings? And those really nasty cheese twists with E number whatever yellow and orange coloring and flavouring?
Not only does that sound unhealthy, and slightly indulgent, I too can see the potential danger in opening up the floodgates for someone who A, loves food and B, was having some ‘slight’ problems controlling herself around food.
Here’s the thing though, until I gave myself permission to have whatever I wanted, this was my mentality:
- I can’t have xyz.
- I feel guilty if I do.
- But xyz looks so good!
- Stop thinking it looks good, it’s bad for you. It’s going to make you fat and you’ll binge (and maybe purge).
To break that down, you have control, guilt, the push-pull theory, fear, beratement, and distrust all in one.
I don’t see no Love.
And that’s because there wasn’t any.
When your relationship to food is built on that good vs bad lens, can and can’t, deprive and punish, fear and distrust…
the outcome isn’t going to be very loving, and it’s not going to work in the end.
Think about this, if that mentality was brought into a real relationship, say with your partner, or your kids, how would that turn out?
Disaster. Trust me, I know from personal experience.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, how we do anything is how we do everything.
We have to bring Love into our relationship with Food.
And if we can do that, guess what, bonus! It will bleed into all other areas of our life too.
So instead of good vs bad, what’s the 3rd option?
- I am allowed to have whatever I want, when I want it.
- I get to choose what I want in the moment.
- The food itself isn’t actually good or bad.
An experience of freedom, expansiveness, abundance, respect, choice trust, empowerment, truth, and dare I say Love.
I’m pulling up yesterday’s definition of Love. Let’s test it out in this scenario, just for kicks.
- Love is surrendering to the idea that you don’t have to have it all together. Surrender to the idea that you have to ‘get it right’ with food all the time. Maybe you’ll eat more than you really want at first, that’s OK. Babies fall when they are learning to walk. Adults can fall when we’re learning to eat (and live) again.
- Love is giving yourself what you want. As in, the largest, gooiest, piece of chocolate cake on the table, if that is what you really want.
- Love is receiving what you want. As in, don’t be thinking about how you’ll only have shakes tomorrow, or you’ll burn it off at the gym. Enjoy every single bite of it right there and then. Tomorrow you can decide what you really want for tomorrow.
- Love is accepting your birthright to receive love. As in, stop depriving yourself of what you really want.
- Love is engaging with beauty. Food is beautiful. It is colorful, smells amazing, tantalizes your tastebuds. And it nourishes you. Play with it.
- Love is finding courage to face fears. Including the fear that the chocolate, or the bread, or the burger, is going to make you fat. Or that the sugar or the gluten is going to ruin your health*.
- Love is being vulnerable. It means getting really honest with yourself about your weak spots. This doesn’t mean that you are weak. Admitting where you are is strength. Hiding from reality, not so much.
- Love is speaking your truth. Who knows what yours is. Mine was, ‘I love food!’, something that I had been ashamed to say for years, considering how I had treated it.
- Love invites in. It creates connection. Include others in the conversation about your relationship to food, body, and self.
- Love does not judge. Including, ‘thou shall not judge the cheese on the pizza, or the grease on the french fries.’
- Love does not condemn. Including the cheese, the grease, the fat, the sugar, the gluten, the white rice*.
- Love is gentle. You don’t have to get it right on day one. We’ve got loads of time to play here!
- Love accepts what is in the moment. I am trying this today and will see how it goes. Tomorrow is another day.
- Love forgives, even yourself. Even when you fall back into fear and the deprive/indulge or control/release mode.
- Love says come as you are. However many pounds of you, whatever size clothes, whatever health issues, no matter how ‘anorexic’ or ‘bulimic’, or ‘compulsive’ or ‘undiagnosable’ you are. Labels don’t matter to love.
- Love says you are worthy. You are worthy of living freely with food, your body and yourself. You are worthy of the pleasure and joy and nourishment that food and this world offers you.
- Love says it’s OK to let go of what you’re holding on to; I will catch you. It’s OK to drop the ‘Food Rules’ book (and dare I say ‘Life Rules’ book?)
- Love says you don’t have to have it all figured out today. One step at a time works just fine.
- Love speaks to you like you would a friend. You’d let your friend eat the cake without staring at her belly rolls and thinking, ‘How could she eat that when she looks like that?’. Right?
- Love doesn’t give up. It cheers you on to keep going and find what works for you.
- Love never fails. You will get there in the end.
I didn’t consciously know what I was doing at the time, but I started adopting this philosophy. I started to let myself have foods that had previously been forbidden; Cheese on pizza, red meat, salami, candy.
I started to explore more. What do scrambled eggs actually taste like? Do I like them?
I let myself have the ‘binge’ foods, like chocolate or ice cream, in broad daylight, without judging how many I had.
I started putting butter on bagels instead of eating them plain. And not in just any old way. I cut the bagel in half, spread the butter on, and then broiled it under the grill, just like we used to have as kids.
I started to find out what I wanted, listen to that, and give it to myself.
I began to heal.
*Note re: gluten and sugar: ? I realize that a lot of food allergies and autoimmune conditions exist where it would be harmful to your body to eat certain foods eg gluten, sugar, etc. There is still an opportunity to bring love into the relationship. eg instead of the mentality that gluten or sugar is ‘bad’, what would love say? Probably something like this: ‘I want to take care of my body as best I can, and I’m committed to healing. Right now I am choosing to limit my sugar and gluten intake because that is what’s best for my body.’ Now you’re making a choice in line with your wants and desires, without fear, deprivation, or guilt.
Something to think about: Fear and love can’t co-exist. What are you afraid to let go of?How can you bring love into your relationship to food, and your life?
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