You've got it! You have let the statistics sink in... 95% of diets fail after 5 years...You finally understand that it is not you failing the diet but the diet concept that is failing you!! Woohooo!
But before I get out all the fireworks and party cake, I have to ask…
"Have you REALLY quit dieting?"
In a culture obsessed with thinness, fad diets, and celebrities’ tricks to looking fit at 40, having a diet mentality is the norm. “Watching what you eat” is encouraged by moms, dads, coworkers, bosses and advertisements pretty much everywhere. Even the subliminal messages on your groceries’ packaging and the conversations between female characters in movies are assuming some sort of food control and food restriction.
So please forgive me my initial doubtfulness ... If somebody comes in for coaching and tells me this, I instantly ask them …"Have you really quit dieting?" "How do you choose what to eat and when to eat? How do you feel when you eat your former ‘forbidden foods’? Do you eat what you want but then go to the gym to ‘work it off’? Do you pre-plan to eat less during the day when you have a dinner party in the evening? How many times do you weigh yourself?"
Most people are scared to death of letting go of control because they have been led to believe they have an 'uncontrollable' appetite. I get it, it's easy to start thinking you are an untamed cookie monster after having failed for the 10th+ time your attempts to control your food intake. But tragically, it is the anatomy of the diet itself, that drives you to more over-consumption.
Your body is smart, it does not want you to poison it, that's why tuning into it instead of dieting is so powerful...
Do you know there is "physical dieting" as well as "emotional dieting"? Physical dieting is obvious to detect, as it is about litterally forcing yourself to under-eat in order to lose weight. Emotional dieting however, runs deeper in our veins and is much harder to get rid off.
You could even be consistently overeating and still emotionally dieting … Feeling guilty when you ate that dessert after dinner? Yep, you’re emotionally dieting. Fearful of the cheese and sweets that will be present at that party? Yep, you’re emotionally dieting. Eating chocolate for a snack but kind of thinking it’s bad? Yep, yep, yep. Attaching any kind of moral (good-bad) value to food puts you in the emotional dieter category.
In short, if you are, -in whatever way-, following an external source of 'expertise' instead of the cues of your own body for choosing your meals, you are dieting, however subtle that may be. Now for plain Jane who never struggled too much with food and body image, this subtle diet mentality may not be that big of an issue. But, for chronic yoyo-dieters and people who are prone to emotional overeating, bingeing and negative body image EVERY LAST LITTLE DROP of our “DIET JUICE” needs to be pressed out to make place for what’s to come.
Well, like with all the best stuff in life: the idea is simple! When you are not up in your mind, making food choices based on this or that rule, you have the room to focus on your body and fully tap into your own body’s wisdom, your internal rules, to decide what and when to eat. When I talk about body’s wisdom I am talking about an integration between your physical body, your emotional body, and your energetic body.
I can go into deep detail on this, but for the sake of this article, let’s keep it simple: we are basically going to eat like a 6-months old baby again. Yes, we grown-ass humans can learn a thing or 2 from kids.
See, babies are naturally in tune to their body’s signals because they have not been conditioned yet into our societal neurosis around food. Baby hungry? Baby eats. Baby not hungry anymore? Baby stops eating. Baby likes the food, baby eats, baby does not like the food, baby stops eating and unapologetically leaves its full plate at the table. Baby does not care what time of the day it is, baby just wants to feel good and have energy to sustain itself and its growth for the day.
What we see at play here is the body’s inner regulating mechanism, and the most obvious example of this mechanism in action is your hunger and fullness cues. It also subtly whispers you 'what to eat' and helps you being 'put off' by things it deems not good for you. Unfortunately, the moment you decided to go on paleo or weight watchers, all you did was ignoring that inner mechanism, until its cues were barely noticeable... Dieting has the power to rob you from your connection to your body. And the very thing dieters try to ignore, is actually going to be the saviour of their food sanity.
The good news is that even if you have been deeply ignoring your body's cues and mechanism for years, it is still there, silently waiting for you to reconnect with it again so it can take its rightful place as the expert on your food decisions.
Now, one might ask, if we have such a good mechanism to regulate food, then why do we get fat in the first place? Well, there are different routes to overweight: either people have conditioned you since a young age with their own emotional and physical dieting, which may have gotten you into a diet-overeat cycle from as early as age 3. Or you have started using food as a way to drug yourself and numb difficult emotions. (in which case you can find some solace in this blogpost) But for most people it is a combination of the 2.
Though the idea of eating like a 6mths old might be simple, the practice is not. It requires a consistent applying of tools & techniques to UN-learn your conditioning. When you become really good at this then: you know WHAT to eat, WHEN to eat and WHEN TO STOP eating.
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Radically choosing to become the sovereign of your own food choices, is a brave and avant-garde thing to do in our day & age. Trusting the natural processes and variations of our bodies, gives us back our power and confidence and that’s what I like the most about my job as a Mind&Body coach: giving women back their power!
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