The answers to our angst around food and the body are far more simple and accessible than we like to believe.
We can find the answers to our questions about weight loss and healthy eating within our exquisitely designed bodies and by listening to our quiet inner voices of wisdom.
And they don’t cost a thing!
Here are 12 steps to ending our obsessions with food:
1. Stop dieting and cleansing.
2. Clear the mind of “good” and “bad” foods and allow yourself to eat what you want while paying attention to flavor and how different foods makes you feel.
3. Practice mindful eating techniques such as slowing down, cooking, eating without distraction, paying attention to flavors, returning to your breath during mealtime and chewing your food.
4. Use the pleasure of eating as a new gauge for healthy eating.
5. Let go of your drive to lose weight or stay underweight.
(You will reach and maintain your body’s ideal weight when you stop trying to fix and change yourself and instead trust that your physical body will do everything it can to restore balance and reach a healthy weight.)
6. Believe that your body will reach its own ideal weight when you stop trying so hard and instead pay attention to your signals for physical hunger, need for rest, need for movement, need for affection/touch and sensations of expansion or constriction.
7. Reassure your body that you will nourish yourself when you are hungry and learn to stop when you have had enough.
8. Uncover the triggers and emotions that lead you to the refrigerator or pastry shop when you are not physically hungry.
9. Feel your feelings and observe your thoughts as they arise without judgment. Accept that life can be very difficult and very beautiful.
10. Stop shaming and blaming yourself. Treat yourself with love by acting on your own behalf.
11. Explore what the struggle has been covering up.
12. Live life as if you create your own reality through your beliefs, choices, actions and reactions. Choose to take personal responsibility for your life.
Each of these steps is essential to long-lasting wellness, but one step alone will not necessarily lead you to a life without food and body angst.
So what is sufficient? What can we do to put an end to obsessions with food and body image?
All of the above.
The whole package.
Recovering our natural body weight and our natural state of inner peace is a process—a practice of daily effort, commitment and presence. We show up to our lives and practice all of these tools as if our life depends on it.
Our life does depend on it.
The struggle with food and your body ends when all parts of yourself (mind, body, heart, spirit/soul) are on the same side and ready to let go of the behaviors that protect you from the uncomfortable parts of life. The struggle lets you know that there is a part of you begging for your attention.
The fact that we, as a society, are willing to spend 60 billion dollars annually on weight loss demonstrates a widespread desire to improve our lives and a commitment to invest in our personal health and wellness. We are just misguided.
The recipe for success is twofold. First, commit to trusting your own physical body and inner voices. And second, pay attention (with non-judgmental self awareness) to the present moment. When we commit to trusting ourselves and show up to our lives with presence, we regain a natural sense of wonder and interest in our lives.
One might think we become passive and stop growing when we let go of the inner critic’s drive to improve ourselves. Instead, we become more willing to ask questions and explore our lives. We begin to let go of the need to have all of the answers and accept that “we do not know what we do not know” (Nosara Yoga).
We seek out new information and experiences and allow external situations to interact with internal guidance. We begin to move from the center of our being—our soul-selves—and we learn from our own experience. We have always learned from our own experience, only this time around, we trust it.
We no longer believe that other people know more about our own life, our own hungers, our own feelings, our own path to inner peace, than we do. And this allows us to love other people more fully, because we have learned to love and honor ourselves.
Let’s take that 60 billion dollars and invest it wisely.
We already have everything we need to reach our natural ideal body weight.
Author: Erin O’Brien
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Renee Jahnke
Photo: Thomas Abbs/Flickr