Eat Your Troubles Away

Cute diet book cover, but misleading at best.

The truth is, you cannot eat your troubles away.

You can eat. And eat. And eat.

But if you have troubles, and they extend beyond the trouble of physically starving, eating will only cause you to feel physically satisfied, full, or very full, with the latter adding a set of new troubles to your pre-existing list of woes–poor digestion, stomach aches, bloating, night sweats, weight gain, and maybe more.

The hope is that a better diet will solve your problems, that improving the foods you consume will improve your body, and your mind, and then its positive rewards will spill over onto the rest of your life.

Make your job easier to handle, make your relationships better, just make things better.

While it is true that eating good foods will improve your health, maybe improve your body composition, and help you think more clearly, it will not solve all of your problems.

You will still have troubles.

Dieting can serve to distract you from your troubles, whether it is loneliness, insecurity, feeling without purpose, or feeling a loss of control in general, but if these issues are not dealt with, improving your eating only means that you eat better while maintaining troubles.

You will still experience loneliness, and insecurity, still feel confused about what your purpose is, and still feel anxious about not being able to control situations if you only address your diet, and not the actual troubles that are an inevitable part of being a human being.

Some people like to link overeating to their daily troubles. They say they eat because of their troubles. Because they are lonely (or sad, or happy, or bored, or overwhelmed).

I think people overeat because they like overeating. I think they may use it as an escape from their troubles, but only because it is their escape of choice. If they didn’t like overeating, the way they didn’t like drinking too much (assuming they do not abuse alcohol), they wouldn’t keep choosing to overeat.

The idea of eating your troubles away is fantastical. It’s clever, and alot of people keep trying to do it in order to improve the rest of their lives, but it should be kept in perspective.

Improving what you eat only improves what you eat.

If you want to start here, on your quest to tackle your troubles, with a better diet, absolutely go for it. But remember, you will still need to address the other areas of your life that may be going neglected now that you are so focused on food.

Your purpose, your career, your lover, family, friends, spiritual beliefs–they are all waiting for you.

If you work to improve your diet, good, good, good!

Just don’t forget about the rest of your life.

Image from Flickr.

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Should You Begin a Healthy Eating Challenge Today?


It’s the first day of the month. And it’s Monday.

A perfect day to start a new diet, wouldn’t you say?

If you are on top of the latest trends in healthy eating and frequent the healthy food websites, you would be privy to the popularity of beginning a diet today. Or another first of the month, or another Monday.

30-day challenges, 21-day detoxes, 3-day reboots.

There seems to be magical dietary hope in a new month. A new week. A new chance to get yourself healthy. Get yourself slim. Get yourself unstuck of the bad habits you picked up the last few weeks, or the last few months, or however long it has been leading up to you finally showing junk food and poor choices who’s boss.

I don’t have anything against doing challenges, or cleanses, or reboots. They can be a very practical way of replacing negative and unhealthy habits with better ones. They can expedite the body’s ability to reduce inflammation, or release excess water weight. They can teach you alot of insightful things, such as what you place dependency on (afternoon treat, anyone?) or help you develop your self-control muscles.

Healthy eating challenges can be positive and enlightening for many people.

But they are optional, and not necessary for improving your health (even dramatically), and they are always your choice to do or not do, no matter how popular or amazing they really are.

I spent many years, many firsts of the months, many Mondays, cleaning up my diet, and starting over as a healthy eater, always with the idea that this reset would reset them all. That this time, my relationship with food would be freshened up for good.

That this time, I would be good.

My experiences with strict dietary challenges have certainly opened me up to new ways to think about food. They have allowed me to improve my sleep, my joints, my skin, and my emotions.

But they have not saved me the way I always wanted them to.

Knowing that I would be starting a strict and clean diet would usually lend me bingeing on everything the diet forbade in the days leading up to the big start day.

When I would finally decide to stick to a respectable food plan, I would feel good about eating so well, but mostly I would feel saved from myself, from my potential to self-sabotage through food, from the vulnerability to go at my health goals alone.

It was inevitable after beginning a strict plan that I would eventually break the diet, or mess up. It was likely that I would be frustrated with how time and thought consuming it was, or irritated at how critical its biggest fans were.

And it was inevitable that the diet would only take me so far. That it would improve my health for as long as I adhered to its guidelines, but guilt me into thinking I was an utter failure when I “fell off the wagon” or “cheated” or “just couldn’t do it”.

I know there are people who would disagree with this, and maybe even think it’s the wrong approach to take, and that is OK. I know challenges and diet plans can be maintained without them adding stress or trauma to a person.  I realize that if I really wanted to keep a food challenge (and by this time, you would be correct to suspect it a Whole30 or 21-Day Sugar Detox or an I Quit Sugar plan), that I could.

I could get through the temporary discomfort of forgoing my beloved tamari, or bananas, or a square (or two) of 85% dark chocolate.

I could call every restaurant I would attend for the time of the challenge, and ensure they only cooked with ghee, olive, or coconut oil, and I could make certain there was no soy or corn fed to any animals I was consuming, or that there was not dried fruit or candied nuts in my salad.

And I could skip every invitation to dine at a friend’s house whose cooking was not “approved” by my newfound redeeming health plan.

By my new, Good News.

By my new Savior.

But I will tell you, I’ve done all those things.

And I don’t do them anymore.

I’ve spent alot of time studying food. Studying its make-up. Studying how nutritious it is. Studying how evil it is.  How it helps us.  How it hurts us.  How it ruins the planet, and how it saves souls (oh wait, I meant, how it helps you improve your body composition).

I’ve learned alot in my studies, but the things that nutrition could never teach me was how to trust myself to eat healthy, everyday, without fear of failing a plan, without the obsession on perfectionism, and without needing anyone else’s approval.

Food challenges are amazing for alot of things, but it takes determination and commitment to decide to treat your body well, with kindness, and with compassion, after they are over.

It takes will to make your own rules, to let in only helpful opinions, and to turn your eyes and your ears from anything that doesn’t empower you.  That doesn’t give you confidence, or energy, that doesn’t root you in self-assuredness, and that doesn’t serve to make you a better version of yourself.

You can follow plans, and challenges, and diets, and enjoy them, and benefit from them, but never forget that you can experience health, and enlightenment, and self-growth all on your own.

If you think you need to learn more about food to make your own choices, study it. Find out how it effects your body. Learn how it can make you feel well.

Experiment with it. See what works for you. See what you like.

And then, know when you’ve studied enough. Know when it’s time to trust yourself, trust your body, and get on and live your life.

Be responsible, but be in charge.  Be yourself, and be proud of it.

So, if you asked me if it was a perfect day to start a new diet, I would say, maybe, but maybe not.

Instead, I say it’s the perfect day to start trusting yourself with food.

And so is tomorrow.  And next week.  And definitely, next month.

 

Image from What’s on the 6th Floor?

When You Don’t Have Motivation, Try Commitment

There exists a period between inspiration and execution referred to and felt as motivation.

Motivation seems to be what gets us to tackle our goals, to resist resistance, and to succeed at something.

It is often stimulated by reading powerful stories, passionate quotes, or seeing beautiful images. It is propelling, and encouraging, and it is felt.

So, what do you do if you do not feel it?

I think many of us go through seasons of feeling motivated to eat healthy and to be active, and then through seasons where we don’t.  I certainly do.

Often, seasons of motivation are coupled by optimism, and hope, while seasons without motivation may be anxious, negative, or filled with resent.

Or, perhaps most frightening, coupled by feelings of nothing at all.

What motivates you to take care of your body?

Is it feeling well?  Having energy?  Looking pretty?  Maintaining your weight?  Do you ever go through seasons where you don’t care about these things?  If so, what keeps you committed to the cause?

Last year I made a decision to take a brisk walk outside everyday.  It wasn’t an idea that took much meditation.  In fact, it was a very simple decision that has not seemed to have much impact on my schedule or general sense of well-being.

I take a brisk walk, outside, everyday.  That’s it.

Rain or shine, convenient or not, I just do it.

I enjoy being outside, and I like going for walks, but I guesstimate that I have not felt like going for about 75% of my walks.  It has been 10.5 months since I started walking everyday, which means I haven’t felt like taking 220 out of 294 total walks.   Some of the remaining 74 walks have been anticipated, but mostly, they have just been taken because of the commitment I made to just take a daily walk.

What has been interesting to note during this period is that motivation has seemed to have very little to do with my decision to walk, and commitment has had everything to do with it.

It’s the whole, “just do it”, idea, which sometimes feels empty and uninspired, but in the end, it actually facilitates just doing it.

Walking everyday has been a relatively easy experiment  to prove that the feelings of motivation are not required to succeed at a goal.  Had I waited to feel motivated to walk, I would have probably skipped 220 walks so far.  Maybe more.

But, of course, I want to feel motivated to do the things I do, and I want to experience the reward to succeeding at my goals.  Using the experience of walking everyday, no matter what, is opening my mind up, and enlightening me to committing to other decisions, even when I do not feel like it.

Because this seems to be the gap in between motivation and motivation.

What might you achieve by deciding to commit to the desires you keep thinking about?

Image from Pulptastic.

If You Think Being Fat is Bad

You would not say it out loud, but you might think that being fat makes you bad.  Worthy of mockery.  Deserving of shame.  The worst thing in the world.

It’s not.

Being fat is a situation you might find yourself in if you have been in the habit of overeating or bingeing.  It might be a physical revelation of inflammation or hormonal imbalance or lingering weight from past pregnancies.

But being fat, having excess body mass, weighing more than other people, does not make you bad.

If you have ever thought that you are a bad person for being overweight, it is because you believe that fat is wrong.

You might believe this because you think the way to to get fat is to overeat, and overeating is wrong, so fat is wrong.

You might believe this because you think fat is ugly, or requires laziness, or dirtiness, and all of those things are disgusting which makes fat disgusting which makes you disgusting.

While some people do become fatter for eating too much or never moving their bodies, they do not become worse people, and they do not deserve public shaming.

Being fat may complicate your life (as may being thin) for a variety of reasons, but remember that fat is only extra weight your body is holding onto.

It is not your soul, your spirit, your mind.  It isn’t your sense of humor, or your generosity, your intelligence, kindness, love, or wonder for the world.

It is a physical condition, and that is all.

You can lose weight.  You can gain weight.  And in the end, you choose what you believe about it.  You choose what you do about it.

I am not suggesting that it does not matter if you are fat.  Being fat may make you suspect to disease, early death, or a difficult life (physically, at the very least, emotionally, because other people, including yourself, may view your fatness as a problem needing to be shamed).

What I am suggesting is that it matters how you view fat.

If you are fat, how do you view yourself?

Lazy?  Glutton?  Unfortunate?  Ugly?  Victim?  Bad?

You have not become a worse person for weighing more than you did at another point in your life, or more than people around you.

You can believe that or not, but try to keep perspective in the matter.

Hatred is bad.  Injustice is bad.  Bitterness is bad.

But extra weight is just extra weight.  Decide if you want to do anything about it, accept the situation you are in, and move forward how you like.

Reserve disdain for those tragedies that deserves such negative feelings.

Your body isn’t one of them.

Image from Pinterest.

Self Acceptance Is Your Choice Today

A common misconception about accepting yourself is that if you do, you will become lazy and never achieve any of your goals.

This isn’t true.

I read about accepting myself, exactly as I was and where I was at in life, a few years ago.  The idea seemed simple, but it was very threatening.

It seemed simple because all self acceptance required was a decision to stop rejecting myself. It didn’t necessitate anything outside of myself such as a job promotion, approval from others, an improved marriage, or reputation, or a better house, or car, or bigger bank account, or fill in the blank.

It didn’t require working up to anything before it could be practiced, except the decision to practice it.

Because of this, it was also very threatening.

If self acceptance didn’t have anything to do with outside affirmation and influences, and only had to do with my decision to practice it, then it was entirely my own choice to be comfortable and happy with who I was.

And I wasn’t comfortable or happy with who I was.

So, I didn’t accept myself.

Sometimes it seems easier, or even appropriate, to decide to hold off accepting yourself until “x”, “y”, or “z” happens.

Examples as they relate to diet and fitness:

  • Losing the last 5 pounds (or 10, or 15, or 20).
  • Getting a flatter stomach (or more toned arms, or thinner thighs).
  • Fitting into your ideal size jeans.
  • Eating what you think is the perfect diet (and never blowing it).

All of these goals are fine to have (though not always worthwhile), but when they necessitate your own self acceptance, your comfort and happiness relies on their presence, and typically remains in the past or in the future.  You might remember a few years ago as a happier time because you were thinner, or you might wait to be happy next month, when you finally (you hope), lose weight.

But what about right now?

What about being comfortable and happy with who you are today?

The belief is that achieving your goals will make you happy.  That they will erase, or at least soothe, life’s difficulties, that things will make more sense, that you will finally be comfortable with who you are and where you’re at.

And that others will be comfortable and happy with who you are and where you’re at.

But this is only an illusion.

The reality is that you will continuously be growing and evolving with the seasons of life.  You will experience hardship, and loss, and pain, and devastation, but you will be relieved by grace, and mercy, and kindness, friendship, love, and laughter.  And hope.

Your body will change.  Your face will change.  Your hair will change.  For the better, and for the worse.

You will get promotions, and offers, and approvals, and rejections.

You’ll make friends, and then take different paths.

You will meet a lover and grow together, and you might lose them, and you might never.

And you can choose to accept yourself the entire time.

You can choose to be comfortable and happy about who you are and where you are at.  You can certainly try to improve yourself and situations, but the process can be enjoyed and expressed lovingly, like you would to someone you cared about, simply because it’s better than negativity, judgment, anxiety, and worry.

Because it’s better than letting anything outside of yourself determine your success.  Because it’s better to be happy right now, than to wait until tomorrow or reserve it for the past.

Because accepting yourself breaks down the walls that you’ve built all around you, so that you can finally be liberated to go out and do what you need to do in this life without the burden of hating yourself or feeling stuck.

The truth is, accepting yourself will not turn you into a lazy and unlikeable slob.  It will relieve you, allow you to get over what is keeping you from moving forward, and free you to enjoy the short time you have to breath and love and wonder.

If you’re in the habit of waiting for something or someone to liberate your self rejection, why not try choosing to do it yourself?

Why not choose to accept yourself, and see how it goes?

Why not see if you can enjoy who you are and where you’re at today?

And then try it tomorrow, and the next day, and then the next.

Keep goals, and keep learning, and keep exploring, because it keeps things interesting, and challenging, and rewarding, but keep it in mind that those things are only life’s varieties, and that you are exactly where you need to be right now to choose self acceptance.

Image from Paris Hotel Boutique.

What Do You Read to Learn about Health?

Do you read books, or blogs, or magazines to learn about health?

There are thousands (make that millions) of books and articles that discuss health.  From nutrition, to fitness, to diets, to personal care, mental care, home care–you can find anything you are looking for if you just search.

It can be a little overwhelming sifting though all of the information available to us today, but it is also liberating to think that we can learn anything we want about anything so quickly and independently.

A few of my favorite sources of information on health are:

Each of the above websites have encouraged and challenged me to take a look at health from more than a food angle, only.  They discuss the wide range of the whole health spectrum, such as stress management, sleep, connecting with others, and mental growth.

A few of my favorite recipe blogs are:

Every recipe that these bloggers share look incredible.  I admire their patience to create such complete meals, their creative eye as they photograph all of the details, and their generosity to share their work with the whole world.

And a few of my favorite books are:

Each of these books has inspired and challenged me in life-changing ways.  I rarely read a book that tells me what to eat (despite being very interested in the paleo diet and lifestyle), but I do love a book that explores why and how we eat.  These books are all very different from each other and helpful in many ways.  If you read them yourself, apply what you like and don’t stress about the rest.

I have many other healthy references that I read and get inspiration from, these are only a few.

What are some of your favorite sources for all things health?

 

 

Image from Vintage et cancrelats.

Does Eating Differently Than Others Bother You?

If you have modified your diet (for improved health or religion or self-discipline) for any length of time, you might feel like the woman in this illustration–sad and lonely, and left out of the lunch time fun that the other ladies seem to be sharing.

The above illustration exaggerates this idea, but it does bring up the interesting subject of feeling like your life will not be any fun if you eat differently than (or in the woman’s case, less than) other people.

If you have ever felt anxiety, or sadness, or tension prior to or while you are changing what you eat, it is worth exploring what you believe about the foods you are excluding.

It’s possible that you believe specific foods bring you happiness, comfort, joy, or peace, and that by not eating them, you risk being miserable.  It’s possible that you believe they provide you friendship and community, and without them you will be lonely.

It might sound silly, but it is a common approach if you are in the habit of relying on food to provide you happiness and a sense of belonging.

I would like to explore this idea further.

What causes us to rely on food for happiness or social connection?  Why might we feel the odd one out if we choose to eat differently than other people?  Is eating like other people necessary to genuinely connect with others?  Does any of this even matter?

I suspect that most people do not actually believe that a food makes them happy or one of the gang.  That is rather silly to suggest, as food is simply calories the body uses for immediate energy and long-term survival.

So what about not eating a food would cause a sense of lack?

Typically, changing what you eat (excluding specific foods) for health reasons is positive (as is for religious or self-disciplinary reasons).  If for health reasons, removing foods that leave you feeling blah, sick, or depressed will help you feel better physically and mentally.

So, what if you still have a sense of dread about not having them?

It is a good idea to ask yourself what you believe about a specific food that you exclude and how removing it impacts your sense of happiness and social connection.  Once you know what you believe about this, you can then decide if it’s a worthwhile pursuit to keep at your dietary changes.

This brings up another issue, which is when you decide to eat less of a specific food.  If you believe that you need to eat alot of something to enjoy it or to have a good time, you will likely experience negative feelings when you come to the moment of being done with your portion of it.  You might feel sadness to stop eating before others or before you are used to.

I’ve had to ask myself about these issues when it comes to foods high in sugar.  While they are tasty and fun to eat, they generally leave me feeling rather blah and down in the dumps.  When I am with people I enjoy and dessert is being passed out or ordered, I nearly always want to partake to share the experience with who I am with, but I also do not want to risk feeling blah after such a lovely time, so I usually pass (but not always).  I’ve had to get honest about what I think dessert will add to my overall experience and then decide if I will have it or not.

I have also had to get honest about thinking I need alot of dessert to have a good time.  This belief is not based on truth so when I start to feel sad that dessert time is over (and I have), I remind myself that I feel better with less (or none at all) and that I enjoy life, myself and other people  far greater when I don’t have more than a few bites of very sugary treats.

What do you think?  Does eating differently than other people have any impact on your experiences with them?  Do you feel more or less included in a group based on what you eat together?

What about eating less of a certain food?  Does the idea bother you or encourage you to keep at your goals?

Share your experiences by leaving a comment!

 

Image from Tumblr.

Should You Weigh Yourself?

Should you weigh yourself?

There are a few popular approaches when it comes to stepping onto the scale to check how much you weigh.

Some people say it is a good source of accountability for maintaining their weight.  These people likely weigh themselves daily, or every week, or so.  They tend to know their weight at all times.

Others say that the scale is meaningless and to throw it out.  They say they rely on how their clothing fits instead of their weight.  These people might know roughly how much they weigh, but they don’t make a habit out of reminding themselves out of a conviction that it doesn’t really matter.

And, there are others, who haven’t decided one way or the other what to do with their scale. They get anxious just thinking about stepping on it, and they get anxious just thinking about throwing it out.  Mostly, these people are just anxious.

It’s interesting to note how people approach their scale and how much power they give it.

A generalization is that those people who weigh themselves daily care alot, or more likely, too much, about how much they weigh.  They are known to be happy when they see lower numbers on the scale and upset when they see  higher numbers (assuming they are maintaining or trying to lose weight).  Their whole day might very well be a reflection of the number they saw on the scale earlier that morning.  They might eat more or less based on their weight.  They might think they are a better or worse person depending on the number they see.

But this is only a generalization.  There exists many people who are in the habit of weighing themselves regularly who are not in the least tempted to base their success, happiness, or morality on what the scale reads.  They may make adjustments in what they eat based on how much they weigh, but it only goes as far as that.  They don’t view themselves differently or expect others to view them differently if their weight goes up or down.

In the same way, it would be a generalization to say that the people who rely on their clothing as the indicator of their weight, were of a balanced approach (as popularly taught).  They may not routinely weigh themselves, but they may be caught up habitual self acceptance or self hatred based on their body weight (how their clothing fits on it) on any given day.  They have the same mindset as the person who relies on a magic number on the scale only it is directed at a number on their wardrobe tag.

The truth is, no matter what you do with your scale, or if you have one at all, it doesn’t really matter.

There is alot of advice about the scale, these days.  People get very passionate about the topic. They may say to step on it daily to keep yourself motivated (to either maintain, lose or gain weight) or get it out of your house immediately because your weight is only your gravitational force to planet Earth (interesting point).

The important thing to remember about scales and using or not using them, is that it is your choice.

If you want to weigh yourself, you can.  If you don’t, you don’t have to.  If you want to remain anxious about the whole idea, so be it.

Know that no matter what the scale reads, it is your choice with how you will respond.  No matter how your clothes fit, you get to decide how you will feel about yourself and your day. And if you decide to remain undecided, you get to choose how you will deal with not knowing.

So, do what works for you.  Use your scale, or not, or never decide.  It is my opinion that your weight has nothing to do with anything noteworthy about today, but again, that is up for you to decide.

What do you think about this?  Do you think it matters how much you weigh?  How much others weigh?  Do you have a better day when you weigh a specific number or does it not mean very much to you?

Leave a comment to share your opinion!

 

Image from Smart Alex.

 

 

 

Image from Pinterest.

Mechanical into Meaningful

Over the last two weeks I wrote two series on binge eating:  Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting and Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge.

I felt they were a good introduction for understanding how binge eating starts, and an overall practical guide to limiting and lessoning the urges that accompany habitual bingeing.

But I felt mechanical writing them and it’s been bothering me.

I thought about why I would feel rather empty writing on a topic that I have so much passion for, and in a way (as lengthy series) that can possibly offer explanations to anyone who is caught up in, or knows someone caught up in, such a complex eating behavior.

I felt a little guilty for feeling this way.  I want to inspire people to maintain hope that it is possible to stop binge eating, not feel bored of the topic.

It dawned on me that even though both series began as a method to break down the complicated stages of binge eating, they seemed to have ended mechanically, a little drawn out, and out of obedience to finish an idea to create a series, rather than intuitive passion.

It felt redundant.  felt redundant.

While writing both series, the topic of binge eating was all I was thinking about, despite other activities that took alot of my time, and by the end of last week I was tired and felt the need to escape from all of my repetitive thoughts that fueled so many posts on one topic.

So, I took photos of my dog, and watched Blue Velvetand got lost in my latest Book Club story.

Anything to change the pace, and to challenge and encourage me with new content.

This got me thinking.

How much of what I do is out of routine and habit?  How much of what I think is a tract on repeat?  How much is out of obedience to a cause that I am passionate about, but not benefiting from?

How much is out of intuition and passion?

Don’t get me wrong.  Routine and habit are good things.  Obedience is a good characteristic to cultivate.  Rationality is good.  But when they are to things that leave you feeling tired, or more likely bored and empty, it is worth exploring why, and deciding on ways to break their chains of lifelessness–deciding to turn mechanical into meaningful.

I realized when I was writing so intensely on binge eating that I had alot to say about it. Binge eating is simple, but it’s also very complex, and I want to start a new conversation on it.  But as I wrote more and more, my interest became less and less, and by the end of each week, I was over the topic.  I just wanted to think and write and talk about other things.

This doesn’t take away the empathy that I feel for anyone struggling with binge eating.  It doesn’t mean it is not a worthwhile habit to explore or that it is not admirable to put the effort in to stop it so I don’t regret spending so much time and energy writing about it.  I don’t think it was wrong to, and I don’t think it was a waste of time.  Even though I felt very tired from it, maybe it helped someone, and that is fantastic.  Even though I felt tired, I still aim to spread hope that anyone can stop binge eating at any time, no matter what.

Similarly, I don’t think it’s wrong to give your life’s work to a single topic, or a single lifestyle, or a single anything.  I think you are lucky if you have a main passion, belief, or person in your life to expand with.

But that’s just it–expand with.

It’s really easy to get caught up in habits and routines that don’t do very much for us.  Maybe they started as good intentions, healthy changes, creative challenges, enlightening endeavors, but now they aren’t.  Now they are thoughtless, passionless, lifeless.  Now they leave us craving more, or caring less, or not caring at all.

This can happen with anything.  Your job.  Your lover.  Your clubs.  Your breakfast.  Your life.

It’s a good idea to confront your feelings of boredom and resent, when you have them, and find out what you believe about them.  Beliefs create our thoughts, which create our feelings, which evolve into actions.

Actions can be energetic, they can fill us with passion.  They can also be automated, mechanical, simply obedient, far from fueling.

Take time to explore your habits and routines and what you dedicate yourself to.  Does it empower you?  Does it challenge you to grow and expand in grace, creativity, love, compassion, empathy, acceptance for others, acceptance for yourself?

Do you think the world is more beautiful today because of how you intertwine with it?  That people are more endearing?  That possibilities are more possible?

It’s grueling and lonely not to.

This post seems an extreme response from two weeks of what I believe was mechanical writing. Maybe it is.

But it’s caused me to think, and explore, and remember why I write at all, and it propels me to grow and expand.

It’s not worth it to me to simply write information.  There is enough information out there with enough people passing it along.  There is enough reason and enough solutions and enough methods to keep you on a safe path.  To keep you from exploring.

It’s worth it to me to ask questions.  It’s worth it to dive deep into our approach to life, and to own it, and take responsibility for it, and to find that it’s what we make it.

It’s worth it to be convinced that it is beautiful, and that people are endearing, and that possibilities are possible.

As it relates to binge eating, to diets, to fitness, to health, it’s worth it to approach it rationally and positively, but also in its proper context.

Binge eating is a bad habit, but it’s not the worst thing that you have ever done.  Remember that.  Keep perspective.

Healthy eating and fitness will help you body thrive, but it’s not the end all of happiness and growth.  Keep it serving you.  Don’t become it’s slave.  Don’t forsake intuition and passion for the illusion of perfection.  Don’t play it safe following everyone else’s advice because you are afraid of making your own rules.  Don’t finish someone else’s race.

Decide for yourself why you care about these topics.  Decide to study and explore them and then make your own rules about how you will live them out.  Implement what works for you. Get rid of everything that doesn’t.

If you’re happy to obey diets and workouts, then go for it.  There isn’t any harm.  But if you have second thoughts about what is trendy or learn that what is popular doesn’t work best for you, don’t be afraid to jump ship and start over with what does.

This is different from simply reacting to feelings or waiting for inspiration to make a move with your health or with your life.  This is about modifying your approach to what you are engaging with so that you actually enjoy it.  About seeing things differently and celebrating how it helps you grow.  It’s about accepting information to help you expand, not kept put down.  It’s about changing habits and routines and beliefs so that you are more in tune and connected with them.

What do you think about routine and habit for obedience’s sake?  Do you find yourself enlightened by what you believe and do?  How do you mix things up when you don’t?

How do you turn mechanical into meaningful?

Leave a comment if you have anything to share!

 

Image from Devodotcom.

Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge, Part 5

This is Part 5 of the Series: Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge.

You can read the previous posts to this series by clicking on the link above.

Part 1 presented the idea that binge urges follow periods of dieting (under-eating).  Part 2 listed physical and mental signs of under-eating.  Part 3 gave samples of what under-eating might look like and Part 4 offered suggestions for eating more (eating enough) to reduce urges to binge.

In this final post for this series, Part 5, I will write about urges to binge after you are eating enough.  I wrote about this in the previous Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting, Part 4.

Take a moment to read that post as it supports what is being written now.

For those people who have stopped dieting, are eating enough, and are still experiencing urges to binge, it is worth exploring something that will be very annoying for only a little while:

Urges to binge may have become a normal signal your brain sends to you in multiple situations that have nothing to do with needing to eat more.

It may be a habitual urge your body experiences.

Here is why:

Your first binge is truly an act of physical survival.  Your body is starved from under-eating, so your brains sends you overwhelming urges to eat.

You respond by eating as if it has been weeks since you have had a bite of anything.  It can feel frantic, rushed, right, and wrong all at once.  You can feel relieved and regretful at the same time, proving binge eating to be a very complex behavior.

After your first binge, you return to your usual senses, and likely to a period of under-eating to compensate for eating so much.

This perpetuates the cycle of binge eating, and it is all it takes to turn one act of binge eating into a habit.

Binge eating is a habit.

The next time you binge, it might be for the very same reason as the first time–under-eating. And the next time might be the same as well.

But now the brain is establishing connections between you and your environment when you binge eat.  Now it is not only about actually needing food, but also about whatever is happening in your life when you binge.

This could be, but is not limited to:

  • A time of the day.
  • A day of the week.
  • When you are alone and able to binge.
  • When you have eaten a particular food and then binged.
  • Before an activity.
  • After an activity.
  • Near a holiday.
  • When you visit specific people.
  • At a specific restaurant or cafe.
  • At a social event.
  • After a period of stress.
  • During a celebration.

It also connects binge eating with how you feel emotionally when you binge, and this could be:

  • Sad
  • Scared
  • Lonely
  • Frustrated
  • Anxious
  • Depressed
  • Happy
  • Relaxed
  • Nervous
  • Tired
  • Wired
  • Stressed
  • Confused
  • Indecisive
  • Rebellious
  • Hungry
  • Full
  • HIlarious

Do you see that signals to binge eat can be sent in any context once its habit is established?

You could be stressed for an exam or happy about an upcoming party and feel an urge to binge simply because your brain tied the two situations together from a past experience.

At this point it might seem like a lost cause to try to stop your habit, because it interferes with so much of your life, but don’t lose hope. You can change any habit at any time, no matter how long it has been taking place!

I hesitated to list all of the times and feelings you will encounter that may have a memory of bingeing tied to it because it is basically all of them, if you have been bingeing for a long time (or even a short time).  I wanted to list them to show how varied they are and how they really have nothing to do with the urge to binge.

Because urges have become a habitual signal you feel, your brain will continue to send signals to do something you no longer need (and haven’t since you resumed eating enough) when you encounter a time or feeling you had when you were dieting and bingeing until you stop obeying them.

This is why it will be very frustrating when you decide to stop binge eating.

Eating more throughout the day will certainly help to reduce urges to binge, but if you have a history of binge eating, like I did for 10 years, you are going to have to do more than just change your diet to include more nutrient dense food.

You are going to have to decide to not give any credit or additional thought to the urge to binge.

This is so important for stopping binge eating.

When you experience the urge to binge and you are not physically hungry, do nothing about it.

Don’t try to figure out why you have the urge.  Don’t feel badly about it.  Don’t try to manipulate the urge to mean something more than what it does.  It is just a habitual urge you feel.  Don’t assume it means anything.

The minute you start to engage with the urge is when it starts to influence you to act on it.

It does this by using your own language to convince you that you really need to binge.

You might say to yourself, “Just one bite won’t hurt“, or “I have been so good all week, so I deserve to have this“, or “I need a little fun in my life“, knowing that you don’t really want one bite (you want them all), and you’re not a dog who deserves treats, and if you wanted to have fun, you could go fly a kite.

Have you ever said these things to yourself before a binge?  I have.  They are pretty silly, but very common to think (or even say aloud) in response to an urge to binge.

If you start to engage in this thinking, you will likely binge–unless you put a stop to engaging with the urge right away.

When you hear yourself thinking about giving into an urge to binge, decide to recognize what is happening, accept it as something you will not do, then move on with your life.

This is not white-knuckling it or using willpower to not notice your urge to binge.

This is just not giving the urge your attention or respect.

It’s a meaningless feeling and it doesn’t deserve any more of your time.

Try it once.

Prove to yourself that you can do it.

Celebrate each time you do.

Then do it again.  And again.  And again.

It gets easier, and urges start to lose their intensity.  The come, they go, they are forgotten.

Will you try this?

It will be very difficult at first.

But only at first.  Just like any new habit, it becomes second nature soon, and it becomes simply what you do.

If you have been eating enough food for your body and you are experiencing urges to binge without being physically hungry, it may just be a habitual signal your brain is sending you, but it doesn’t mean anything, and it doesn’t have to be obeyed.

Begin to replace the memories you have bingeing with healthy and positive memories.

They add up quickly.

Will you try this?

It might change your life forever.

Leave a comment if you try this, there are so many people who can benefit from your courage!

This wraps up the Series: Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge.  I hope it has been a practical source of information, and I hope you feel ready and inspired to stop dieting and stop binge eating.

You can do this!

Image from Etsy.