This is the third week in our intuitive eating series with Dani Spies. This week is all about making peace with food now.
If you missed the first two videos the first week was about rejecting the diet mentality and then our second week was honoring your hunger I do recommend going back to watch those videos if you did not see them. Each week tends to build upon itself so you will find the links below.
This week we are chatting all about making peace with food. This step is such an important piece to creating a kind and nourishing relationship with your food and your body and ultimately with yourself.
Intuitive Eating Video – Week 3
Food is not our enemy! As a matter of fact I would go so far as to say our thoughts about the food we eat are more problematic than the food itself. When we create a lot of rules and restrictions around what we can eat and what we can’t eat we trigger something in our brains that actually makes those restrictive foods more desirable. This is called psychological deprivation. When you rigidly limit the types of foods that you can eat you set yourself up to automatically crave even larger quantities of that food.
This goes for anything in life. Anything that we restrict ourselves from ends up creating a larger desire for that thing. It makes that thing feel like it’s extra special. I like to think of it like this … anything in life that we put our attention on will expand. So if you are constantly thinking to yourself, I don’t want to have the doughnut, you are putting your attention on that doughnut whether you want the doughnut or not. All of your attention is going towards the doughnut. So the more we’re telling ourselves that we can’t have something the more we end up desiring it because ultimately energy flows where our attention goes.
Eventually what happens as we restrict and restrict we build a desire for that food. As that desire builds, eventually that desire wins out. You can only restrict the body for so long until that desire takes over. Than the body gets what it wants and oftentimes what happens is we overindulge.
We do what I like to call the Monday morning effect. Saying to ourselves, ‘I’ll start again on Monday to hell with it for now, I’m just gonna have it all’. It’s like all-or-nothing thinking. I’m not supposed to have the food, so since I broke that rule I’m just going to have as much as I can. I’m never going to partake in this again, which ultimately never happens. As we all know the more we restrict and deprive the more we increase our desire for those restrictive foods.
Making peace with food is all about giving yourself unconditional permission to eat what you want and when you want it. This is giving yourself permission to eat all the variety of foods without the shame or the guilt. I am a grown woman and I am allowed to eat what I want and when I want it. Now take note, this is not the same as eating whatever you want, whenever you want to, regardless of how it makes you feel. This is about taking the labels off of food so that we can eliminate the psychological deprivation and then make our decisions based on our experience with the food.
Start asking yourself these questions. How much do we enjoy our food? How does it make us feel? What is the actual experience that we have in our bodies when we eat the food. This is very different than from what we think about when eating food. When you truly give yourself permission to eat whatever foods you want then you really get to experience the taste of the food. You begin to experience how that food feels in your body.
When there are no foods that are off-limits there’s no running the risk of all-or-nothing eating. This is because there’s no rule in the first place that you broke. When you no longer feel like you are depriving yourself you create the space to tune in and ask yourself, do I really like this food. Did I enjoy this food? Do I like the way this food feels in my body? Do I like the way I ate this food? Would I choose to eat this food again? Would I choose to eat in this manner again.
The feedback from your body becomes your guiding light opposed to the thoughts from your mind. That is the underlying practice of this work. It’s dropping out of the mind and tuning into the body. We can’t really think ourselves to the answers. We have to allow ourselves to feel our way there.
So this is a practice of eating the foods that you desire with emotional attunement. We are paying attention to our hunger and our fullness. We are paying attention to how much we enjoy the food that we’re eating and what the body is wanting to eat. Then releasing all emotional judgments around the food. All foods are emotionally equal. That’s the idea here. There is no morality with the food.
Some foods may have more nutrients and more vitamins than others but that doesn’t have to mean that we have good foods and bad foods. Or right foods and wrong foods. The question is how does this food feel for me. Allow your feelings to be your guidance system. Sometimes when you start to do this and really pay attention you may notice that some of the foods that are on your forbidden list you may not even like that much. It’s just that you’ve created so much charge around them that you haven’t even noticed. You will find this a really fun and interesting thing to start to practice.
In the Intuitive Eating Book they also talk about the habituation effect. Basically what we have is the more we are exposed to the same stimuli the more ordinary it becomes and the less interesting it becomes. So this could be with food or with a new car. It could be with a relationship. The more we’re eating the same food over and over the less interesting it becomes. It becomes so ordinary and sort of boring.
A perfect example is leftovers. You make a meal that is fresh, exciting and delicious, then come Tuesday you find it not as exciting. By the end of the week you have had enough of the leftover food.
When we are chronically dieting and we have all of these food rules set up the habituation response never has a chance to kick in. Instead what we do is we slip into this negative spin cycle that looks like this …. I’m going to start dieting … I’m going to create lots of roles and restrictions. Eventually I’m going to build up a desire and have a break down where I start eating all those foods. This leads to lots of shame and guilt, which reinforces this false belief system that I have to create more restriction and more restraint. I go full cycle and I jump back onto the diet, putting all the rules and restrictions back in.
At this point what see is that these rules and the restriction is what creates this cycle. If there is no wagon we cannot fall off of the wagon. We have to stop setting ourselves up to fail. What you should now be seeing is from the rules and the restrictions that we create often lead to the overeating and the binge eating. They lead to the kind of weird habits that we create around food.
Making peace with food simply means allowing all of the foods to be just fine. You can then start using the feedback from your body to determine what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. And then practicing being honest with yourself most of the time.
A couple of great exercises to work on this week are some journal exercises. These are from the intuitive eating workbook.
First get out a pencil and write out a list of all of the forbidden foods that you have in your life. Some of the common ones are carbohydrates and sugar and our starches. Whatever they are for you. Everybody is different, just write out a list of all of the foods that you have decided are forbidden foods in your world. Then ask yourself what are my fears around these foods? What do I believe will happen if I eat these foods?
While doing your journal really be kind and easy and compassionate with yourself. Curiosity is the key here. We want to really investigate all the things that go on inside of our minds. Think, what are your thoughts and what are your beliefs around this.
Then what the book suggests is choosing one of these forbidden foods to experiment with. You want to pick a time of the day when you’re not super hungry. Maybe an hour or so after your meal. You are going to create an environment for yourself where you can feel safe and relaxed. It should be enjoyable, because many people who are experimenting and enjoying a forbidden food might feel a little nerve-wracking.
You want to do your best to create a pleasurable safe environment for yourself. With your food and pen and paper in hand, (you can just do it in your mind) you are going to take notice on how you are feeling before you eat the food. Note in your journal if you feel nervous or excited. Maybe you are worried. Just take note of how you’re feeling. Then once you begin to eat the food and while eating, again start to notice how this food tastes. How does it smell? What’s the texture like? Are you really enjoying this food? Does it live up to your expectations? Is this really pleasurable for me? Just notice what was your experience in eating that food.
When you’re done eating, what did you think? Were there any surprises? Did you enjoy the entire experience? Did that food feel good in your body? Would you want to eat that food again? Would you not want to eat that food again?
I want you to draw this information from the experience rather than from your mind and take note. Write your experiences in your journal. Use this as an opportunity to learn a little bit more about yourself and the foods that you’re eating. This helps you to make those decisions around what foods you want and what foods you want a little less of in your world.
Remember there’s no right or wrong.
So that wraps up week three. It’s making peace with food. We really encourage you to try those journaling exercises. Once again we look forward to you sharing your thoughts, your feelings, your experiences and any sudden insights you get and note them down in the comments below.
We will be back next week for week four in our 10-week intuitive eating series and next week is gonna be all about challenging the food police.
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