THE BLOG
03/29/2013 11:41 am ET Updated May 29, 2013

How to Start Being at Peace With Food

There are so many different ways in which we might be having a hard time in our relationship with food and our bodies. Some people are horrified with the way they look. Others are fine with their appearance, but are not happy with their health.

Some are overweight, or significantly underweight. Others spend every moment of every day obsessing about food. For those of us who struggle with weight and food, we are often consumed by it -- taking up too much space in our lives.

Regardless of your particular predicament with food, weight and body image, chances are you want to change. You want to feel or look better. You want to not struggle anymore. But where -- and more importantly, how -- do you start? And more importantly, make sustainable change?

That's an important question to ask yourself. If you start at the wrong point in the process -- and "wrong" being a place that is sort of ahead of where you're actually at -- you won't address some fundamental things that are at the core of your struggles. They're going to rear up again if you don't address them up front.

The key is to start from where you are.

Whether you're eating three drive-through meals a day while in the car, or painstakingly measuring every ounce of food you eat, start there. Become aware of your habits. Don't judge them. Just notice. The way we begin our process from where we are is to actually cultivate present-centered thinking and not think too far in the future.

For example, if you're trying to lose a lot of weight, having specific weight-loss goals at the beginning of your process is not ideal. Maybe you've tried this: You wake up in the morning and tell yourself you're going to be 50 pounds lighter by some date. Most likely that's not either working, or it has worked in the past for a short period of time.

Remind yourself that change is incremental.

Cultivate a state of understanding that it is not your job to be perfect. It's your job to be in a process that moves you more toward where you want to be. And if you do that, things will get much easier for you.

You don't actually have to get completely "better." Or be "perfect."

If you have a very difficult relationship with food, it's going to take some work. But it doesn't have to be painstaking. If you think that you're going to never have negative thoughts or emotions or behaviors around food again, that's probably not true. What you want to do instead is to have those difficult thoughts, emotions, behaviors, rearing their ugly head less. The way to do that is to have other sets of thoughts and emotions in your space more.

Try a present-centered thinking exercise

Grounding exercises that encourage present-centered thinking help us start from where we are. They move us out of ways of thinking and states of mind that have nothing to do with the present. Here's an example.

  • Find your breath.
  • On the next inhalation, feel your breath move into your body.
  • As you exhale, feel your breath move out of your body.
  • Repeat this a few times, noticing where in your torso you feel the breath on the inhale.
  • Notice how you shift and change as you exhale.
  • On the next inhale, say to yourself, "I am..."
  • On the next exhale, say "here."
  • Breathing in -- "I am..." -- breathing out -- "here."

The more you practice, the more you'll cultivate a normal breathing pattern where your belly relaxes as you inhale, and just slightly contracts as you breathe out. This will also help turn on your parasympathetic nervous system, and move you toward a more relaxed state -- the ideal state for dealing with your body and weight goals and making choices that will last.

Visit www.peacefulweightloss.com to learn more about Brandt. Brandt's latest CD Being at Peace with Food is available from More Than Sound.

For more by Brandt Passalacqua, click here.

For more on wellness, click here.

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