We all know diets don’t work. So why do we keep doing them?
Study after study proves people who diet gain back all the weight they lost and often gain even more. Now even neuroscience is confirming this.
Diets are a form of deprivation that our brains respond to by thinking we are starving and then slowing our metabolism rates which is why we plateau and don’t lose more weight.
I stopped dieting over twenty years ago.
In fact, I never even weigh myself. For most of my childhood, adolescence and into my twenties, I was an emotional binge eater. Whenever I felt anxiety, fear, stress or depression, I ate.
Throughout those years, I dieted almost non-stop and often did punishing exercise routines. My weight constantly fluctuated, mostly upwards. I weighed anywhere between thirty to fifty pounds more than I do now.
When I decided to stop dieting, I was faced with redefining my relationship with food. That was the only way I was going to heal myself.
And I did that by learning how to eat mindfully.
If, like me, you’ve realized that diets don’t work and it’s time to create a new relationship with food, here are 5 ways to get started today.
1. Ground Into Your Body
Allow yourself to experience your physical self. I know this may be scary. For me, my body was the enemy – fat and embarrassing. I pretended it didn’t exist. Yet it did. I was walking around in it everyday.
Allow your awareness to come down into your body. Feel it. Be in it. Breathe love into your physical body and ground yourself in the here and now.
2. Check In
Once you’ve come down from your thoughts and feelings and into your physical body, ask yourself: Am I actually feeling physically hungry or do I just want to eat?
I used to eat so I didn’t have to feel negative emotions or deal with the stress of life.
As you check in, you are able to respond rather than react.
Maybe you aren’t really hungry but feel totally paralyzed with fear about what’s on the To-Do List. What can you do instead of eating?
Often, I go for a walk, talk to a friend, do artwork or take action of some kind.
3. Slow Down
After you’ve checked in with your body and discovered that you really are physically hungry, the next question is: What do I want to eat? What does my body need?
When you’ve decided what that is and have it ready, sit down.
Inhale the aroma. Take a bite and savor it.
Focus only on eating and allow yourself to be fully present, no distractions. No videos, movies, TV, social media or email. Take your time and fully enjoy this moment of eating.
Pay attention to your thoughts while you’re eating. What are you saying to yourself? Are they kind words or unkind ones? Is the food pushing away fearful thoughts or are you congratulating yourself?
Allow yourself to hear those words – good or bad. Hearing them is the first step in healing them.
Now that you’ve become aware of your thoughts, start keeping track. How many of them are judgments?
Things like: I can’t believe how fast I ate. I looked so bad on those pants. What’s wrong with me that I have this problem?
What steps could you take to stop judging yourself? What might that sound like instead?
Maybe the absence of judgment is silence or positive statements. Words such as: good job waiting until you were hungry to eat. Way to go on completing that project that was stressing you out. Your hair looks pretty today.
Judgment only hurts.
Mindfulness is about being in this moment, and allowing yourself to be fully present. Even if there is anxiety or discomfort. That means being in our bodies and in our heads, becoming like thought gardeners, vigilantly weeding out the negative ones.
Paying attention to your body and mind is the key to healthy eating habits, a positive mindset and a happy life. Use these tools and you’ll be well on your way to healing and health.