Many people have struggled for years or even decades on the quest to shed excess weight. Being overweight can result in loss of joy in life, intense shame, helplessness, or even being bullied.
Most overweight people have tried to diet, starved themselves, mentally put themselves down about their eating, tried to have more “willpower,” with only short-term results; if any. The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise. From the health and fitness world, we see trainers and fitness professionals promote unrealistic promises & wishful thinking; rather than teaching people new skills & ways of living that can transform their lives.
Part of the problem is the split in our society between the “physical” and “mental.” Our mind and body are actually interconnected; where excess weight can be a sign of internal imbalance. This imbalance is also caused by our societies overvaluing of thinness and the unrealistic, surgery or liposuction-botox enhanced role models we see on social media platforms every day.
We all have different genes, backgrounds, and life demands or stresses, and these limit what we can look like. In order to meet societies ideal, most of us would have to starve ourselves, take diet pills, smoke, spend money we don’t have, and adopt a variety of other negative & unhealthy behaviours. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
The CBT Eating Approach:
The idea of “CBT eating” is an alternative, more holistic and compassionate approach to weight and eating. Most diets impose harsh, unnecessary restrictions and do not take your individual circumstances into account. In contrast, “CBT eating” involves deliberately and compassionately tuning in to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. With this focus, you begin to be more aware of your senses, such as the taste and texture of food, when you feel hungry and full, and whether you are actually hungry or just bored, anxious, sad or angry.
Below are some “CBT eating” principles that can help you manage your weight and begin to live a healthier life:
1. Begin to becomes aware of the ways your eating is automatic and “mindless.”
When hungry, do you automatically reach for the tube of ice cream or chip bowl, without taking time to note what you are really hungry for? Do you eat while multitasking, such as watching TV, texting, driving, or working? Do you gulp the food down quickly without really tasting it? Begin to notice your automatic habits around eating that stop you from really tuning into your ACTUAL needs.
2. Slow down and focus on your thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.
Become aware of the thoughts, feelings, and sensations you are having when you eat. Do you feel helpless or ashamed; angry or rebellious? Sit down when you eat and stop multi-tasking. Try to eat slowly and put your utensil down between bites. Try to stretch out the experience of eating, even by 5 minutes.
3. Develop positive rituals around food and meal time.
Many people trying to lose weight associate eating with shame and helplessness. You may eat quickly or secretively. You may think negative thoughts when you eat. “CBT eating” involves focusing on the positive instead.
Before you eat, take a moment to notice the environment around you. Many of our members like to set their table up with a candle or new set of dishes/placemats to co-ordinate with the season! A little spruce up of your table can make your meal time more positive!
Next meal, take a moment to express gratitude for what you are about to eat.
4. Choose a way of eating you can live with long-term.
A typical diet involves restricting food intake for quick weight loss to reach a particular goal in as short a time as possible. The problem is that when the goal is reached, you revert back to your old habits and quickly put weight back on again. You begin to feel like a failure. With “CBT eating,” the focus is on developing healthier eating and exercise habits that you can live with for the rest of your life. Healthy living is something positive that can add pleasure and energy to your life. Everybody has their own way of defining and living this.
5. Encourage and show yourself compassion.
The process of lifestyle change takes time and is not easy. Begin by trying to accept yourself right now! Ironically, positive change is easiest when you do not try to force changes and beat yourself up over it. You are doing this for you, not to please others.
Make a list of your reasons for wanting to be healthier and carry it with you. (This is called an advantages list). Focus on the realistic benefits you can achieve, such as improved health, mood, and energy.
The first step is always the most difficult, but, with these principles, you can begin to transform your relationship with food and experience of eating. Make conscious & mindful choice about the way you fuel yourself. Let go of automatic patterns & begin to be fully present in your life.
If you are ready to take CBT eating to the next level, check out our 4 Week Food and Fitness Connection Course! Black Friday Deal is on for the next 48 hours! Save and begin to change the way you look and feel, one thought at a time!