In the typical diet mentality, we are encouraged to reward ourselves for not overeating or for eating diet foods or restricting calories. The logic is that if you look forward to the reward, you will be more likely to stay on the diet. Easy psychology, right?
I tried this many times during my weight loss adventures and nothing seemed to interest me enough to give me incentive to stay on a diet. The only thing I wanted desperately was to see a lower number on the scale. This and wearing smaller jeans were my main goals. But even these weren’t enough to keep me eating carrots and celery sticks for more than a day or two.
You may have already guessed that weight loss is not a proper motivation for eating normally. I’ve thought about just dieting to lose the pounds I want to lose, then learning how to eat normally after I get thin. The trouble with this attitude is, it assumes that getting thin will make me a better person.
Losing weight may or may not help me feel better and be healthier. And it doesn’t make me more important, more valuable, or more lovable. Just like being overweight doesn’t make me bad, less worthy, or somehow ‘less’ than a thin person.
I used to hear people say, “I am a thin person trapped in a fat body.” I said this for a while too, until I realized that thinness has nothing to do with integrity or character or value as a human. I may have felt like I had a flawed character because I couldn’t eat normally. But just because I felt that way, didn’t really make it a fact.
My abnormal eating behavior had less to do with my character and more to do with the fact that I had false beliefs about what I should eat. When I tried to eat less calories, I was giving my body a signal that food might not be available in the future. These food restrictive thoughts are the precursors to binges and overeating, the makings of a “last supper.”
I learned how to feel satisfied with meals only after I allowed myself to eat what I wanted and stopped all thoughts of restriction and guilt. I learned I didn’t have to eat out of boredom or emotional turmoil. I could choose to eat at these times, but I no longer felt compelled to. This was such a relief that I found myself not only more satisfied with food, but that satisfaction spilled over into my life in general. I began to feel at ease with myself and my life.
The best way to learn how to be satisfied with food is to eat every food with NO GUILT. This includes the cake and pasta as well as the salad. Here are a few things I do that help with that.
- I don’t eat anything just because it is healthy or good for me, I eat it because I want it. I trust that my body will not want to eat cake all day. (Give your body credit, it is much smarter than your ever imagined!)
- Instead of trying to limit my portions when filling my plate, I try to put the amount and kind of food that I think will satisfy me. This eventually turns into natural portion control.
- I use real plates and silverware and sit down at a table to eat, even snacks. I try to make mealtime a time where I am relaxed and enjoying myself. But if I find myself eating shredded cheese over the sink, I don’t punish or berate myself!
- I don’t think of ‘making up’ for eating by dieting or excercising later. And if I have these thoughts, I check them and pay more attention to the food I am eating.
- Just like I don’t feel guilty when eating foods that I used to consider “bad,” I don’t congratulate myself for eating salad and veggies. When we don’t cloud the eating process with these emotions, we feel satisfied when we’ve had enough food and we naturally stop eating.
- I look forward to and enjoy all meals.
You may think that in allowing yourself to eat this way, you will eat cake, cookies and ice cream all day. And, initially, you might eat more of the kinds of food you restricted in the past. But it doesn’t take long for the attraction to dwindle and you find yourself choosing vegetables and other foods that make your body feel best.
If you’ve been on the diet roller coaster for a long time, it may take some time to learn how to enjoy food and feel satisfied with meals. But it is doable. You are not defective or broken or weird. You CAN learn to eat normally, without restricting food.
“When we can look at ourselves with love, and decide to change a behavior because it doesn’t fit in with the life we want to live, then we can learn to be satisfied.” md
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