I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day! Mine was absolute perfection. My kids each brought me a gift – and all of them were desserts, LOL.
In the past, depending on what extreme I was in with my eating, this would have caused me to do one of three things:
- Eat all of the food, all at once, all while feeling guilty AND out of control
- Throw it all in the trash, spraying a cleaning product on it to keep me from going in after it
- Save it all for a “cheat” day, then eating it all in one sitting and feeling sick
None of these scenarios felt good, but my relationship with food was so intense at the time that I didn’t know of any other option. Food felt like an addiction that I had to either give in to or white knuckle through.
But now, this food all still sits in my kitchen two days later. Some has been shared with my four kids, some has been nibbled on by me. Things have changed big time for me, through intention and through a lot of trust and growth.
So what did I do to be able to get to this point, and how are my clients doing the same? Through a process I created called the NES system, I was able to do the following:
1. Intentionally Managing Food
I used to walk around in a state of semi-starvation. I was either eating foods that did not stabilize my blood sugar (processed foods with very little protein) and didn’t keep me full for long, or I was eating too little food for the amount of activity I was doing – what I thought I had to do to lose weight.
I wandered through the day with no plan. I’d grab whatever I could find, sometimes settling for the crusts of my kids’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This came from being in survival mode rather than intentionally caring for myself the same way I did for my kids.
Now I spend a little time each week planning out what I’m going to be eating daily. And I have backup plans for those days when I need to grab food out. Everything I choose is foods I’ve experimented with and know will satiate me, keeping me full and my blood sugar balanced for 4-5 hours. I get ahead of hunger by eating intentionally – both time and WHAT I eat.
A lot of the moms I speak to are weary of planning out their food because they think it takes too much time. I remind them that a) it doesn’t need to be complicated and b) you’re going to either devote a little time up front to planning and preparing to eat, or you’re going to spend a bunch of time and energy trying to figure out what to eat and then feeling low-energy if it didn’t meet your needs. Either way, the time/energy is spent.
2. Having an abundance mindset with food
Our primal brains go into famine protection mode when they believe food is scarce. Once we’re in famine defense mode, we obsess over finding food, and once we find it, we gorge on it in case it isn’t available again.
When we diet or restrict food (cut carbs, cut sugar, etc) we unintentionally activate this primal survival mechanism. Once in scarcity mindset, we can’t think clearly about food. So if something our brains consider “scarce” is presented to us, we feel an extreme intensity around it. This is exactly why you may feel out of control when you have sweets in your house. Even if you’re indulging in them regularly, you can still be in this mindset if there is guilt or shame surrounding your eating.
I trained myself and I train my clients to be in an abundance mindset around food. When you have an abundance of something, mentally, you don’t obsess over it. You know you can have more whenever you want it. Once that intensity is alleviated, it’s easier to make decisions about food. This doesn’t mean I stop liking Reese’s (NEVER), it just means I am now able to take a bite when I crave it and save the rest for later. It’s not going away.
3. Managing stress and emotions without food
Being a human, especially an adult human, comes with stresses and emotions even in the best of situations. Throughout life, we learn to cope with these feelings in many ways. A select few of us may have learned healthy coping skills, however, many of us did not and learned to numb out with food, alcohol, drugs, etc instead.
If you’ve learned to cope or numb out with food, you’re not alone. I did for years, and many of my clients did too. This doesn’t mean you’re now wired this way forever. You can re-learn how to cope with stress and emotions with some time, training, and patience.
Stop and recognize when you’re doing this to create an awareness, then have a list ready of alternatives (going for a walk, taking deep breaths, etc) and promise yourself you’ll try this first, and if it doesn’t work, you can eat (permission is important or in the heat of the moment, you won’t try it).
Emotions might be uncomfortable for you if you’re used to numbing them, but with some patience, you’ll learn that they come and go like clouds.
What are your thoughts and struggles with this?