Did you manage to slow down enough last month to listen to the messages that are coming from your inner critic?
Did you see a pattern?
Last month I just asked you to notice; that’s called awareness.
This month we are going to take this one step further.
Let’s bring compassion into our eating.
As you’ve heard me say before, many people I work with place huge expectations on food, for example – it is going to keep them thin, or keep them well.
And that expectation means that there is a very unhelpful narrative playing out in our minds before our meals.
Let’s see how this plays out in the diet trap.
As your inner critic raises its voice, not only do you physiologically hinder the process of digestion, you also psychologically impact your subsequent food choice.
The moment you say you can’t have a food again, is the moment you invite yourself to think about this food more than is comfortable.
You might have the best intentions telling your brain you can’t have the chocolate but your brain and body will fantasise and deeply desire this forbidden food.
Your mind and body remain confused and threatened by the restriction, the loss.
We use compassion in our eating to interrupt at the thought level so that you don’t enter into this cycle.
Just think how good it would feel if you made peace with food so that you get to eat according to what your body wants, in turn bringing you closer to taste experiences that feel good in your body, experiences that allow you to choose a salad as easily as you choose a bar of chocolate.
Using self-compassion means that you practice eating in a way that allows you to get super hungry and watch what eating behaviour is happening. It allows you to eat beyond fullness and satisfaction to explore what feelings you are having.
Using self-compassion means that you interrupt the feelings of guilt or regret after these experiences so that you don’t engage in another cycle of unproductive thoughts and actions.
Using self-compassion means you learn to eat without a side of self-judgement and criticism.
How do you do this?
Let’s practice with a food that you have forbidden.
Let’s say it’s chocolate for example.
Stop for a moment and think about all the thoughts you have about “Chocolate”.
Go on, write down 3-4 thoughts that you have now.
Do you notice that those thoughts are full of judgement?
Now think about the times that you eat Chocolate…? What’s your eating behaviour like?
Are you sneaking it in before you get home? Are you eating it so fast that you are even trying to hide it from yourself, the faster you go the quicker its over?
Are you telling yourself that you need to go for a walk to make up for it?
I do like a bit of maths…
Thoughts create feelings create actions = Result.
If your thoughts are the above, does it make sense that the result is that most times that you eat chocolate, you overeat it and indeed you don’t even enjoy it.
Let’s add in the compassion.
What if you gave yourself unconditional permission to enjoy the chocolate? Let’s get back to our thoughts.
What if the thought you had about chocolate was;
“I am going to enjoy this chocolate and I can eat until I am full knowing I can have more later when I want it?”
If you thought that thought…what feelings would you have?
And typically what kind of actions do you take when you feel like this?
Usually you find when you input a productive thought, your feelings are more calming in your body and your mind offers you productive actions.
Say those times you overeat…with a dollop of self compassion you might hear these thoughts or take these actions:
- You might give your tummy a little massage to soothe the discomfort and say every meal is an opportunity to nourish myself and next time my brain will hear my fullness.
- You might see choosing a mint tea as a wise choice that will alleviate your discomfort and feel proud of making such a wise choice.
- You might speak kinder, softer words to yourself?
- You might choose a banana on toast as easily, because chocolate is loosing its appeal.
The result is that you will likely eat less chocolate than when you hear that inner critic admonishing you for your failures.
Notice there is not one mention of discipline, willpower or self-control.
Does that make you feel comfortable?
The kinder we speak to ourselves, the kinder the actions we take, the more content our body will feel.
When we listen with compassionate ears, we put down our defences, we learn to hear, really hear what we want to eat from our body, not from our mind. We have the joy of discovering what foods and how much of them taste good for you.
Your inner critic is never going to help you on your journey.
However your compassionate self will unlock the fear that you will never stop eating chocolate if you allow yourself to eat it freely.
Your compassionate self will inspire more self trust and connection with your body.
Your compassionate self will remind you to stay focused on the journey.
Your compassionate self will allow you to master your thoughts so that you stop using your energy for debating what you should and shouldn’t be eating and start using your energy for other fun stuff.
Here are some questions I came up with for you to use while you build your compassionate voice.
Lets bring compassion into our eating. And in turn, will have a knock on effect on our whole lives in general.
Intuitive eating helps you get free from the diet cycle and that inner critical voice so you can find peace with food and nourish yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I’d love to hear your experience below and what your thoughts are on self compassion and eating – please comment and share if you like below and anything that’s been helpful for you as you work to get free.
As always, any questions please do reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my socials.