Do you wake up in the morning wondering if you’ll lose the battle with food? Whether you’ll be able to resist temptation, overpower your appetite, deny your hunger or desire for certain foods? Or do you wonder whether something will set you off – a comment from your boss, jeans not fitting quite as you wished, or even eating something you had declared “off limits” – igniting a binge, a domino effect of chain eating, or “screw it snacking” that brings you to the point of physical discomfort and emotional despair?
You’re not alone. Most of the people I interact with begin with obsessing over food. Serving sizes, calories, grams of fat or carbohydrate, and “forbidden” versus “free” foods occupy an ever-increasing amount of real estate in their minds. From the moment they wake up in the morning, their minds spin with the fear and confusion of trying to get eating “right,” yet they always feel they fall short.
Part of what helps them reach out to me is realizing how obsessing over food is detracting from the other parts of their lives. Relationships, work, and enjoyment of the simple things in life. These all take a back seat to food obsession.
With a little time, coaching, and self-compassion, however, that thinking evolves. What begins as obsession – which is sticky, hot, and claustrophobic – gradually transforms into a non-judgmental hyper-awareness, a cooler and more spacious way of thinking. Though the amount of time spent thinking about food and eating might appear to be similar, the quality of that thinking is dramatically different. They become more curious, open, and anthropologic about themselves.
“I waited too long to eat and then ended up overeating…I can learn from this.”
“I paid close attention while eating that food I was craving, and I was satisfied with less than I usually eat when I feel out of control…interesting.”
Finally, hyper-awareness becomes less prominent and more automatic. It comes from a place of calm and self-trust: noticing what is arising moment to moment and feeling confident to address it. The thinking at this point can best be described as intuitive or mindful. What were once considered “Good eating days” and “Bad eating days” now just provide useful information to learn from and draw from in the process of becoming experts of themselves.
Do you obsess over food? Can you imagine what it would feel like to replace obsession with curiosity and self-compassion? Can you imagine transforming your food obsession into a form of self love and care? Of moving along the following continuum, as you become the expert of you?
OBSESSION –> NON-JUDGMENTAL HYPER-AWARENESS –> MINDFULNESS
A client once came to me saying “I have a lot of important things to do in my life. I don’t need to waste all this time and energy obsessing about food.” She is now taking steps to have a life she loves. By addressing her obsession with food, she was able to move beyond it. You too can move beyond food obsession and accomplish those important things you were meant to do.