Did you know that we only have control over approximately 15 percent of what happens in our daily lives? So about 85 percent of what we plan and hope to happen can easily go by the wayside. Plans are disrupted, people are disruptive or things just don't go the way you want. We like to feel and believe that we are in control of our lives. Nowhere is this more evident than in our relationship with food and our weight. It's exemplified in headlines such as "tips to take control of your weight," "how to be in control of your eating."
Being in control usually means being "good" around food, guilt-free, an occasional "cheat" day. However, one foot wrong or a few biscuits too many and you've lost control, and entered the irrational realm that is out of control eating. Cue, "I've blown it, I might as well keep eating," "I'll start again on Monday." Such is our obsession with the "in control" mode that a No Dieting International Day now exists where we're invited to bin the celery sticks. One day -- aren't we lucky!
Food and eating is really only meant to satisfy physical hunger. But it is used by society and the diet industry, worth billions of euros, to highlight whole areas of our lives that apparently aren't good enough. How we eat has become so intrinsically tied to our sense of self that it stirs up feelings of stress, anxiety and shame, the latter being one of the toughest of emotions. Thus, bring on the fat shaming, skinny shaming, and even lunch shaming, cheat days, guilt free eating, innocent smoothies, and the list goes on. That list is becoming a bit boring, isn't it?
After many years of yo-yo dieting and cringing at what I see in the mirror, I've maintained the same healthy weight for several years. But recently I gained 10 pounds. My past experiences and those of my online clients have given me perspective: I refuse to enter panic mode or start promising myself to be "good" and get back in control. I've seen it all, and I simply refuse to be suckered into the fear and panic. Here are my loose but effective "rules":
• In charge, not in control: I don't need to be in control to get my eating back on track. Why not just be in charge? Think balance, not perfection. It's more gentle, and makes it easier to get back on track after a slip-up.
• Pause & action: Pause before you reach for food, "Is this the best way to care for myself?" Then make a clear decision. "Yes, I'll have it and enjoy it without guilt" or "No maybe later." This delay tactic can be really helpful.
• Self-care, not criticism: Put aside your judgements and criticisms about your body. Your body has carried you a long way in life, and if criticizing it brought about change, we would all have very different bodies. When you slip up, ask yourself, "What can I do to help myself the next time?"
• Don't stress about life: Among my online clients, stress and pressure are the most common eating triggers. Start to find better ways to care for yourself than reaching for the biscuit tin. Remind yourself it will all be ok in the end. Even if it's not okay, it's not the end.
Have a Heyday
Let's start a dialogue that empowers you to develop a healthy relationship with food and weight. Send your comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. See www.facebook.com/heydayworld for tips and advice.
Wishing you good health,
Dr. Bernadette Rock (PhD).