It’s difficult to be clear and confident with your food choices in the light of the overwhelming amount of food available at any given moment. Not only the number of choices we have, (go down the cereal or yogurt aisle of any supermarket in the States), but also the food and nutrition information/advice we’re exposed to—regardless of fact or fiction—is in a word, excessive.
How are you to know what is best?
What is “good” for you?
What will satisfy you?
Does the portion size on the package make sense given your hunger, the actual amount of food, the type of nutrition (protein, carbohydrate, fat) portion description, etc.?
It’s easy to be confused, no matter how smart you are!
And then we factor in the emotional component…
The part of your brain that wants permission to have whatever you want when you want. It may scream for ice cream for every meal, or whatever your thing is, focusing only on immediate relief. That part of you probably doesn’t want to slow down, take a look inside of yourself and find out what you really want.
That’s OK. You need this part of you for emergencies, those times when you need to make a snap decision. Gratefully, most of the time isn’t an emergency.
To break the habit of impulsively reacting with food you need a plan.
Conscious Eating provides you with a foundation to build a better, more peaceful relationship with food.
What if the emotional part of you is really looking for comfort, excitement, interest, pleasure, escape, or something else?
You probably know what I’m about to say, it’s nothing really new.
Comfort foods are just that, created in the spirit of satisfying an emotional need. They’re usually meant for immediate relief of what’s troubling you right now.
It’s why they work at comforting you, while you’re enjoying the food. And then you’re reminded of your desires beyond the immediate. Guilt, shame and disappointment re-appear.
This is where Conscious Eating is your most “terrible gift” as an old colleague used to say. Terrible in that it’s difficult and gift in that it sets you free!
Trusting yourself and being emotional are rarely thought of at the same time. And, that is what I’m challenging you to do.
Dive into the emotion, swim around in it a bit, get to know the temperature, feel how deep it is, feel the firmness of the sand beneath your feet and the lightness when you wade into the waves and they lift you up and then you gently land on the soft sand swirling around your toes as the tide recedes and peace on the water is restored…until the next wave…
This is the process that leads you to Conscious Eating. Developing the skills you need to ride the wave of emotion.
That’s the process: feeling, experiencing, understanding and moving through. You can move through emotional eating and get to a place where you don’t need it anymore.
Feeling at peace with yourself and food having its proper place in your life. Nourishment that allows for your enjoyment and then to live your life with consciousness and presence. Nourishment in mind, body and heart.
Learning to trust your food choices is a three part process. Firstly, here’s a brief overview and then I’ll go into more detail about what you can do at each part of the process.
- Thoughtfully have a plan about your “Big Picture.” What is your overall goal, not short term “six weeks to a bikini body,” but what is it that you want in life? Rarely is dieting about just losing weight. There are all sorts of thoughts, feelings, meanings, etc. wrapped up in, “I want my body to be different” and moving toward, “I want to have peaceful, fulfilling relationships with myself and others.”
- Thoughtfully assess your current situation. You will practice being present a lot! Some questions that we’ll explore are; what are your options – food, stress relief, work, home, etc.? What is your current energy level and how does this determine what comes next? Are you authentically living from your heart?
- Keep your focus on your future. What will your life be like when you’re at peace and the goal is in hand? This is your payoff, the big motivator, living the life you need and desire! Visualize your life in the future as you want it to be. Create small goals for you to take a step each day toward the larger goal. Before you know it you’ll be much closer and more at peace than you think.
Clear, conscious, trusting choice requires you to think about and take action on each part as it relates to transforming emotional eating into Conscious Eating. Although this can feel complicated, it’s actually the natural process of growth. Let’s get started!
The Big Picture or Your Vision for Your Life
When you look at your life how do you want it to be? What is the life you are creating? What are the most important components, values, lifestyle, that leads you to a peaceful life? Is it the life you need to live for fulfillment and contentment?
Two key aspects of this question are:
- What do you want your relationship with your body to be like?
- How do you need to talk to yourself so that you cultivate opportunities for growth, understanding and self-compassion?
The big picture will be a process of refining as you go. Get a sense of what your goals are through brainstorming, mind maps, vision boards, goal sheets, and the like. These are all great ways to get a sense of what’s important.
As you work in this way you’ll see patterns and ideas repeat. Do they capture your future?
Although you may not be able to plan down to the exact job, home or body, etc. you can think about the qualities you need in the areas of life you’re most invested in transforming.
Get a sense of your future life with statements like; “I want to work in a company that values employee’s ________ (creativity, family, innovation, free time, etc.).” “I want to live in a community that values _________ (sustainability, conversation, density, fresh country air, privacy, etc.).”
This will guide you toward what you’ll try out and see if it feels like a good fit.
Remember if you get there and find it wasn’t what you thought, you can revise.
Use the information to guide your next choice, always evolving to the next step in your process of becoming clear, confident and trusting in yourself.
Your present life situation
Now that we’ve got the big picture in focus, getting there is a process of smaller steps or choice by choice decisions you make daily.
To get there you’ll make choices that will be in alignment with Conscious Eating and sometimes they won’t be.
What I mean is that you don’t need to be perfect, in fact, the mistakes will help you sort out where you are and how you can get to the next place.
Keep your Big Goal as your foundation for the skills you develop and use in the present.
You’ll need a process to help you get through the challenges. Give yourself the time and attention you need to learn new skills. Becoming a Conscious Eater requires intention and a process of conscious choice making.
Some ideas to keep you present:
- Develop a positive growth-oriented mantra, you can find examples here.
- Journal to keep you focused on the present and get the words out of your head.
- Practice yoga, mindfulness, simple stretching. These mind/body practices can help you get your mind and body in sync.
- Do only one thing while eating. Eat in peace. Sit at the table and enjoy your food. You may find that you get full faster or find that what you thought was enough wasn’t and you need more. You may find that you don’t like what you thought you did. Being quiet when you eat has many things to teach you.
- When your mind wanders down the path of self-doubt, reach out a hand and pull yourself back to growth. Read positive quotes, listen to fun music, call a friend. There is a push and pull with growth, always inching in the direction of growth.
To go even more in-depth, you can click here to download the Conscious Eater’s Notebook.
Keeping your focus on the future you desire
Keep your eyes on the future. This is especially important when your way of being within yourself is new and you’re developing new habits.
Transformation requires fortitude.
There will be lots of mistakes. Take the opportunity to learn more about yourself.
Shift any negative internal dialogue into curiosity. “I wonder if I thought about this in the context of my Big Goal, how would I do things differently?” Then start doing it differently.
Make a plan and bit by bit, you will get there. The challenges will sweep you away and you have to work hard to get strong. You haven’t built up the experience of doing things the new way, so they’ll feel clunky at first.
You’ll learn just like standing on the shore. You will find the sweet spot where the waves are no threat at all; they pleasantly, peacefully wash over your feet, relaxing in the sand.
Change is a system of inter-related exchanges and adjustments.
Think about Conscious Eating as a cycle where there are moving parts.
Sometimes you are focused on the Big Goal and getting really solid in where you’re going.
Sometimes you’re focused on the present, working with the emotion you’re experiencing right now and rolling around in turbulent waves.
Other times you focus on the future and visualizing your life a week, month, or year from now and bask in the good feelings of contentment.
Each part of the process needs the other to move it forward. Continuing to become conscious.
Continuing to make adjustments as you become clearer. Becoming more confident in the skills you’ve developed.
Allowing emotionality to become a specific feeling that you recognize, you know what helps and caring for yourself in ways that are compassionate.
Clear, confident and trusting.
This is a road much less about specific foods, in fact that’s not the point at all.
Clarity is knowing what is best for you in this moment. Trusting that you are making wise choices for yourself.
Confidence is the knowledge that you’re focused on compassionately working with yourself and if you need to make adjustments, you will do so without judgement.
You know that life is ever evolving and your participation in creating the life that you need and desire is one of flexibility and grace.
Peace with food is right there for you!