If you are like most women you likely want to lose weight. You want to lose that extra 10 lbs. before that winter vacation down south, tone up before your daughter’s wedding, or because if you don’t you’re likely facing something more serious like knee or hip surgery down the road.
As women most of us have been on diets most of our adult lives. You’ve counted calories, weighed foods, bought pre-made portioned foods, tracked points, went to groups, tried online versions, and longed for the cheat days. And some of it worked. You lost weight. And then regained, and lost again and regained.
If someone would just tell you what to eat for the next three weeks and guarantee you’d lose 10 lbs. you’d do it. Sound familiar?
But you know deep down quick fixes don’t work
Sure you can lose 10 lbs. in three weeks but chances are you’re going to gain it back even quicker. It’s why every couple of months you’re staring a new diet.
What I have come to realize through my own personal experience and in working with women like you, is that it’s not about the food. It’s not about the 10 lbs. It’s not about some future idyllic state of being you’ll arrive at once you lose the weight. That future day never comes. It’s false hope.
What it is about is turning to food and eating when you aren’t hungry. Eating when your body doesn’t actually need fuel, but is sending a hunger message. Instead of needing more food, you’re craving something else. You’re hungry for something. But you aren’t quite sure what that something else is, so you reach for the cookie.
When you eat when your body isn’t hungry you gain weight
These cravings, for what you have deemed as bad foods, are messages from your body that something is out of balance; whether it’s physical, emotional or psychological you’re hungry for something. And because dealing with the emotional or psychological is hard work, and less obvious, you tend to resort to the easy way out which is feeding the physical.
What’s likely going on is an emotional craving. A need for some emotional nourishment. It’s this unresolved emotion that creates the stuckness, the sabotaging the hurdles we just can’t seem to overcome.
Uncovering what lies beneath the impulses to eat when you’re not hungry takes hard work
To get started on this journey to uncover what’s really going on and to start shifting your relationship with food, here are a few simple exercises:
1. Pause. Whenever your body is craving something pause for a moment and ask yourself, “What is really going on here? Am I truly hungry for food, or is there something else that might soothe my cravings and nourish me like some fresh air, a hug, a big glass of water or a hot bath?”
2. Start a craving inventory. Take the pause to the next level to delve further into what is really going on in the moment. In a journal or notebook write down what your craving is, how strong it is on a scale of one to 10, time of the craving, type of craving (food), and contemplate how that craving is a response to an imbalance somewhere in your diet or life.
3. Write a letter to your body. Take some time to meditate, get grounded and connected to your body and your heart. Think about what your body really needs. In your journal set an intention to listen more carefully and mindfully to the messages your body sends. Accept and be grateful for your body. Promise to act in a more loving way toward it. Be specific about the action steps you will take to implement the intention. For example you could include overcoming addictions, exercising more regularly, learning about healthy foods or getting support and guidance.
With knowledge, courage, determination and support you can start to shift your relationship with food. To end, once and for all, the frustration, costs, pain, and suffering that emotional eating and roller coaster dieting cause. To make long lasting change, for good. To reconnect and come home to yourself.
* This post was originally published in the Herald Community on October 8, 2013.