By Andrea Marcellus
Stop playing mind games with your food.
Mind games are all about the illusion of control. We decide certain foods are the cause for our discomfort and need to be control, when it may be instead the lack of a food portion/eating schedule our bodies can count on. Next weekend, eat energy-appropriate portions of food (which tend to be a few bites less than our usual intake). Eat on a schedule of every 2-4 hours without grazing in between. This will prevent your body from feeling weighed down or sluggish – even if the foods you eat aren’t nutritionally awesome. This little test is guaranteed not only to boost your energy, but to help you let go of food obsessing. The enemy isn’t bread or brownies, but the lack of a consistent schedule.
Get to the source of your guilt.
Guilt stems from the feeling that we have done something “wrong.” Every time we label a food good or bad, we pass that judgment onto ourselves when we eat it. A positive relationship with food begins with tossing out the words “good” and “bad” as they relate to food, and instead thinking of them as “beneficial” or “less beneficial.”
End the apology cycle.
Women are especially prone to fall into the apology cycle: making too much of a perceived wrong (say, eating an extra piece of cake) until you feel so guilty that you admit defeat and start bad eating all over again. The best way to end it is to stop thinking of food as your enemy and start looking at it in terms of energy appropriate portions. Plan what you will eat at meals, whether at home or away.
Some of the best (and easiest) destressing techniques include any exercise, especially outdoors, having small rituals throughout your day, and activating your imagination through reading.
Turning daily habits into rituals simply means being mindful and completely present while you do them, and noticing your breath. Any activity will do. For example, I have ritualized watering plants every morning and making my matcha latte in the afternoon. Rituals create short “safe harbor” times throughout the day.
Another technique is to read the first three pages of a novel. Reading stories stimulates our positive brain centers as we create images of what we are reading. A few pages of mindful reading can help to “short-circuit” the worry spin cycle when our brains go in that direction.
How can we create habits that will benefit our long-term goals of ending post weekend eating negativity?
In my program AND/life, we ask people to embrace the idea of highly nutritious “habit” foods and less beneficial, but emotionally comforting “social” foods. If you make a habit of eating 80% habit foods, that leaves you one meal per day that can include social foods. Some people, including me, eat super nutritionally several days each week to allow for more social foods on the weekend. Whether you eat them every day, or on some sort of schedule, including appropriate social foods in your plan immediately breaks the cycle of negativity around food. And when you find the right food portion and eating schedule strategy for your actual energy needs from meal to meal, you will discover that you can feel leaner and stronger even with social foods in your life every single day. This is true food freedom. and an absolutely fantastic way to live. Food is for enjoyment as well as nourishment, and having a positive relationship with it is essential to our overall well-being.