Making the changes to lose weight is obvious–it’s something everyone can see as we shrink in size. But making the changes inwardly to make sure that this isn’t a yo-yo experience is much harder to do.
I think one of the hardest things about losing weight for some people is addressing their relationship with the food they eat. In this day and age we’re kind of disconnected from the whole process–myself included. As a former vegetarian, I try not to think too much about what that piece of chicken used to be. But is that the healthy mindset to have? Probably not. We don’t grow our own food, we buy it at a store. Our food comes in boxes, frozen and mysterious looking with unrecognizable ingredients.
For so long, food was the enemy for me. It was what I was addicted to, it was the thing I couldn’t resist and couldn’t stop when I started a binge. Food was the source of all of my problems, or so I thought.
The key to losing weight and keeping it off is changing your relationship and attitude towards the food you eat. It took me a LONG time to figure this out. While I was losing 100 pounds I still saw food as the enemy. It was something I had to restrict, to measure, to count, for convenience. It was something I had to deny myself.
Once I’d kept the weight off for a few years, I started to evaluate my relationship with the food I ate.
Do I eat because it’s mealtime, even if I am not hungry?
Do I overeat even though my body is telling me it’s full?
Do I vow to “never eat ____ ever again” and then do it again?
Do I punish myself by severely restricting my calories after I overeat?
Do I eat snacks from the bag in front of the TV without counting out a serving size?
Do I eat in secret?
Do I enjoy the food I eat, savor and taste it, or do I shovel it in my mouth?
Can I recognize REAL HUNGER?
My answers to those questions were revealing. Yes, I was an emotional eater. No, I couldn’t recognize real hunger. For too long I’d been eating all the time. It was a learning process.
Change Our Mindset and Our Vocabulary
Food is not the enemy. I have to remind myself of this periodically, even to this day. And most importantly: I shouldn’t punish myself for what I do eat!
Food is fuel. It’s the gas that makes the car drive from one place to another, without it we’re stuck on the side of the road not going forward. Once I made the connection that food was fuel my body needed, I started to think about what KIND of fuel I was putting into my body. Was it healthy? Was it “premium” or the cheap stuff just to get by? Does my body feel good when I eat this food? Is my performance improved on the bike or running when I eat certain foods?
Food is not “good” or “bad”. Eat in moderation. Follow the 90/10 Rule. Remind myself to eat what I want in portion sizes and not beat myself up about slip ups. I’m not on a diet.
Do Something About It
Grow your own food, cook your own food. I feel so much better after I started phasing out the processed foods. They aren’t completely gone from my diet but eating a lot of veggies and good proteins makes me feel so much better!
Keep a food journal. Recognize when you eat, why you eat, what you eat. Is it for the right reason or for emotional reasons?
I don’t know that there is one answer to this question. It definitely takes time. Like I’ve said before, the longer I maintain my weight the less I think about it. It’s just second nature to workout, count my calories, and live healthy. It may not always be easy, there are definitely bumps in the road, but with practice and time I have improved my relationship with food.
QUESTION: Have you redefined your relationship with food? How did you do it?