Guest Post by Natalie Shay
As I was growing up, I was always obsessed with trying to lose weight. I was a chubby child and I tried every diet on the market, but I could never stop my brain from thinking about food. I wanted to be free, and yet, after years of dieting, I was up 70 lbs. How was this possible? It was my brain that couldn’t get out of the diet mentality. So I decided to look deeper and realized that I wanted to nourish myself with holistic food and lose the weight, but more importantly stop my mind from dieting. So here are the steps I took to lose over 70 lbs. (and that many of my clients take), break free from the dieting frame of mind, and nourish my body.
When we start a health plan, we want to think of it as a lifestyle change as opposed to a diet. This is because dieting fails 95% of the time . But how do we get out brain to go along with our plan in order to have a 95 % success rate? We need to change the way we look at food.
Acknowledge when you are thinking about food—say out loud (if you can), “I’m thinking about food and what ‘I should not eat.’” Don’t try to distract yourself, or you’ll just make your mind race even more. This step will help you realize how much you’re actually thinking about food.
Take 5 deep breaths (and I mean deep full tummy breaths) and see if you can feel any emotion in your body. Put your hands on your stomach and take a breath through your nose. Start off inhaling for a count of three and then exhale for a count of three. You can work your counting breath up to 7 seconds. This will slow your mind and your heartbeat. It will also help you become more grounded.
Now that you’ve slowed down a bit, you can start getting in touch with what is really driving you to eat. Try to write out what you’re feeling, i.e. sad, happy, scared, bored, frustrated. You can pick one emotion to try to start noticing and build on that. In order to stop the thought cycle, you need to visit the underlying feeling. So start identifying which emotion is driving you to want food. Even though this process sounds easy, it can be hard to recognize then you think, especially if you’ve spent years pushing these emotions down. This is why the breathing is so important: it helps you get in tune with your body.
It’s time to release some of these emotions. This is important to break the cycle of holding on to the emotion, turning to food to soothe yourself, and beating yourself up for repeating this pattern. On a subconscious level, we perform this pattern as a way to distract ourselves from what’s going on underneath the distraction. You can start by learning to start trusting friends with your feelings and use these techniques to release the emotion. If these techniques don't feel right, you can work with a therapist specializes in emotions and eating.
Now that you’ve figured out which emotions cause you to want food and you’ve released them, you can start learning new soothing techniques. Try to build your “tool box” with new soothing techniques. If you’re struggling, a great book my clients work with is 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food by Susan Albers.
With all the energy you put into dieting and the vicious mind cycle, you can spend that energy changing your frame of mind and finally being free from your dieting brain.