Expert Insight: Finding Satisfaction with Food is like Learning to Ride a Bike

“Compare teaching yourself to eat just the right amount of food to teaching a child to ride a bike. Do children learn easily when you get angry or criticize them for making mistakes? Will children feel like giving up if they are expected to do it perfectly right away? Will they want to try again if they’re ashamed about falling off? Or do they learn best when you observe what they do, encourage each positive step they take, and offer gentle suggestions on how they can improve? Do they want to keep trying because you focus on how much they are progressing, not on what they do wrong? Will they feel encouraged when they notice it gets a little easier each time? Learning to stop eating when you’re satisfied is exactly the same. You’re most likely to learn when you’re gentle, patient, encouraging and optimistic with yourself throughout the process.

And, as with riding a bike, this process eventually becomes natural. Occasionally, something will throw you off balance, but because you’ve practised and learned to make necessary adjustments and corrections, you’ll keep cruising right along.”

– Michelle May, “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat”*

You know when you feel satisfied after you’ve eaten: you’re no longer hungry, but you’re not full either. You’ve enjoyed what you’ve eaten but it’s not sitting heavily in your body. Rather than feeling uncomfortable and sluggish, you feel content and have energy.

Finding that point is by trial and error and being gentle with yourself. Michelle May is spot on – being critical and harsh with yourself won’t help you at all (so dismiss your Inner Bully if it starts telling you you’re not “doing it right” or are a failure – as usual, it doesn’t know what it’s talking about).

Instead, try to stay connected to the side of you that exhibits self-compassion, gentleness, encouragement and persistence. The side that knows if you just relax, stay present, observe and enjoy, you can find your personal satisfaction point and eat just the right amount for you.

As with riding a bike, you’re bound to experience the occasional wobble (or two). But, in time, you may be surprised to find that mealtimes, rather than feeling like a minefield, have become easier, calmer and a lot more satisfying.

 

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*May, M. (2010), “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How To Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle”, Austin: Greenleaf Book Group Press.

How Much is Enough?

You’re having dinner at a restaurant with friends. You skipped lunch so your stomach is growling like a caged beast as you examine the menu. You go to town on the bread basket and devour your starter as soon as it arrives. Now the waiter puts your main course in front of you. It’s a sizeable portion and you’ve eaten almost enough already.

What goes through your mind?

  1. Nothing. You pick up your knife and fork and eat until you’re finished.
  2. “I’ll have to eat it. If I don’t, what will people think?”
  3. “Diet starts again tomorrow so bring it on!”
  4. “I’m paying for it, so I might as well eat it, otherwise it’s a waste.”
  5. “But it looks so good! Also, I’ve had a tough day so I deserve it.”

Which answer leads to you feeling satisfied and thoroughly enjoying your evening?

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Food for Thought: The Enjoyment of Less

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness” – Charles Spurgeon.

I’ve spent my month’s blogging break decluttering my house.

I mean seriously decluttering.

Decluttering in the past meant I’d throw out a few things, take some bits and pieces to the charity shop and really just fanny about with everything else. I might box some stuff up and put it in the loft or hide it in cupboards or drawers but, truthfully, it was always more like strategic resettlement rather than a coordinated clear-out.

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Expert Insight: The Purpose of Disappointment

“Although disappointment feels awful, it can provide you with a wealth of valuable information about yourself and your world. Its purpose is to keep you moving toward what’s beneficial and away from what’s going to come back and bite you. It’s meant to teach you how to make realistic, well-informed choices by recognizing the delicate balance between what you have power over and what you don’t. Examining disappointment with an open mind will help you distinguish between being foolhardy, childish or demanding, and courageous, generous and willing to take appropriate risks. In short, it’s there to help you get the good things you deserve.”

Karen R. Koenig, The Food & Feelings Workbook

“Examining disappointment with an open mind” is the phrase that jumps out at me in this quote. We’re often so busy trying to escape disappointment we don’t stop to think that it might have something to teach us.

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What’s the Point?

You’re having a conversation with a close friend. There’s something exciting going on in your life and you’re dying to fill them in. As you talk, you’re brimming with energy and enthusiasm about your venture. When you finish, rather than sharing in your excitement your friend says flatly:

“What’s the point?”

Slightly stunned, you ask them to explain what they mean.

“Well”, they say, “it’s just that you’ll never do it. You’ll never achieve that. You might as well give up”.

How do you feel?

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Food for Thought: Coming to Our Senses

“There is deep wisdom within our very flesh, if only we can come to our senses and feel it”. – Elizabeth A. Behnke

How could someone allow themselves to put on so much weight? Why can’t they just come to their senses?  This – and much worse – is often what people who aren’t thin fear others are thinking about them.  To be fair, it sometimes is what people think if they’ve never had any kind of overeating issue themselves.

I know from personal experience how easy it is to put on a lot of weight without even knowing.  Hard as it might be for some people to believe, it’s not difficult to put on 5 stone or more without really noticing.

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Expert Insight: Losing Weight Naturally

“When you do start to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full after years of being on one scheme or another, you will most likely go down a size or several sizes.

Unless you have been eating drastically less than your body needs for years, your weight should stabilise at its natural set point, which will be lower than what you’ve achieved through dieting and bingeing”.

Susie Orbach, “On Eating”

When clients first seek help for their emotion-driven overeating issues, they often think if they can sort out their weight, everything else will be OK.

In this way, therapy can be seen as another weight-loss initiative.  There’s sometimes a sense of disappointment that we’re not focusing on weight during sessions and, as a result of this, some clients assume I’m anti-weight loss.

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