A few years ago, a typical conversation in my head went something like this:
"OMG, look at that brownie. It looks so yummy. I really want one right now ... No! I'm going to be good! I can't have one ... But I've had such a crappy day. I'm so tired and I really need a pick me up. Ahh, whatever, I'll just have this one...
But when I gave into my cravings, the one piece or bite I'd promised myself never stayed at just one. I was struggling with food cravings, food addiction, and residual impact of a past eating disorder. That small pick-me-up often snowballed into much more.
For someone who struggles with overeating, binge eating, restrictive or emotional eating, sweet foods can be a very frightening thing. For some, it's the potential weight gain that they fear, for others it's the anticipated binge that follows afterward.
Since healing my relationship with food and professionally helping women who struggle with those behaviors I've realized that constantly saying "no" to certain foods is exhausting! When you tell yourself to stay away from a certain food, your focus immediately moves to what you can't do rather than what you can do. It's a never-ending battle that usually leaves us feeling so drained and overwhelmed that we give in. Giving in, no matter the repercussions, often seems like the easier option when anger and exhaustion are the alternatives.
In order to break the cycle of abusive eating behaviors and to heal our relationship with food we need to transform the relationship we have with ourselves.
The question isn't what we're saying "no" to (sugar, fat, cookies, cakes, salty or savory treats etc.), but what we're saying "yes" to. Instead of fighting against, why not choose to stand for something?
What do you want to stand for in terms of your relationship with food, your body and yourself? Do you want to use food to torture or to nurture?
I want to nurture my body.
The way you choose to answer these questions will be guiding principles when you find yourself at a crossroads, torn between choosing the same old path or taking a step in a new direction when it comes to food and how you eat.
It's only by learning to embrace all of who we are — including our struggles and imperfections — and accepting our bodies for what they are (right now) that we can find a healthy way to let go of our negative food behaviors and excess weight for good.
Instead of dismissing or fighting a craving (whether you like sweet or salty treats), embrace your cravings in a smarter way. When I really started to think about what I was putting in my body and what that body was telling me it wanted, I discovered a whole new world of "good for you" desserts that were healthy AND actually taste good! I also got into the kitchen and practiced baking different recipes. I had quite a few failures, in the beginning and quite a few "oh shit" moments. But now I have way more "yum" moments than anything.
Instead of worrying about calories, fat content, weight gain and binges, I learned to enjoy flavors, textures and nutrients. Most importantly, I reveled in the knowledge that even though it tasted like brownie, I was also putting goodness into my body, nourishing from the inside out.
And really, this is what healing your relationship with food is all about: Using food to nurture instead of torture. This Thanksgiving, give thanks for the amazing body that keeps you alive and kicking every single day. Give thanks for those parts of yourself that get neglected or ignored. Nurture yourself with food this holiday season!!