This article is part of a series on the process and benefits of conscious eating. If you want to receive the additional articles in this series free by email as they’re released, click here.
If I gave you all the right information and latest science about what to eat and how to exercise, would you be successful?
You might think so. But, statistically, you’d be wrong.
In my experience, eight out of ten people who have all the right information still fail.
How can that be?
Simple. You’re using information and logic when the issue you face isn’t an information/logic problem.
You’re a smart person. If you could solve your issues with food, weight, and fitness using logic and information, you would have already solved them.
Lifelong success requires changing your relationship with food. You must understand exactly what food represents in your life and what it’s symbolic of.
Most people think my mission is to spread the word about what to eat and how to exercise. They’re wrong. That’s only about 20% of the work that I do.
The real problem we face is that the world is on a high fact, low execution diet. We’re full of intention and short on behavior. And few people know why.
Through the work that I do with Total Body Reboot clients, I’ve boiled down the problem to one concept: having a healthy relationship with food.
Shop till you drop.
“I can’t go to the mall without buying skirts, shoes, and accessories. I maxed out all my credit cards. My relationship with my husband is suffering because he says I’m out of control…”
Betty, a 34 year old mother of two, was describing her shopping problem to me. “And I am; I’m out of control. I want more willpower. I want to be able to go to the mall without buying anything.”
There’s not much difference between Betty’s shopping problem and your food problem. So, what would you suggest to Betty?
- Betty needs to stay away from the mall.
- Betty needs more willpower when she’s at the mall.
- Betty needs to shop, just one day per week.
- Betty needs to only shop the sales.
If you have a “food issue,” you’ve likely faced the same options:
- Stay away from the mall = stay away from food.
- More willpower at the mall = more willpower at the table.
- Shop one day per week = diet all week and have a cheat day.
- Only shop the sales = eat what you want, just count points/calories.
So which option works? Well, we know it’s not willpower. And I’m pretty sure it’s not a cheat day. I’m positive it’s not points counting. And while you can stay away from the mall, staying away from food completely won’t end well.
So what’s the solution? To uncover that, let’s use me as an example.
If I go to the mall, I can wander there for hours and make it back to my car without buying a thing. Did it require any of those tactics above? Did it require my special will-powers?
None of the above. I’ve never had a shopping issue because shopping is not a replacement for my underlying issues.
If I go to a luncheon, I can sit there for an hour and make it back home without eating a basket of chips and ordering the fried food. Did it require any of those tactics? Did it require my special will-powers?
None of the above. But, there’s a different story here. I used to have a food issue!
The difference isn’t that I use strategies to deal with it. That’s how I started, but that’s not how I found success. In fact, it’s how I found further struggle. After all, those strategies are all antagonistic strategies.
Working to change your relationship with food is an amicable strategy.
It starts with awareness.
Healing starts with awareness. But, where does awareness come from and what does it look like?
If there was one best tool for creating an environment of awareness around your relationship with food, it would be conscious eating.
In part three, I talked about the immense physical benefits of conscious eating. But, conscious eating goes well beyond the physical.
Let’s use one of the top eight unhealthy eating triggers as an example: Pattern Paralysis.
Many unhealthy eating triggers are simply patterns that we’ve been following our entire lives. I know this well because most of my unhealthy eating triggers were patterns that were causing paralysis in my own journey.
When willpower, restriction, and avoidance failed I used conscious eating to explore the patterns.
- Where did this pattern come from?
- What specific emotions do I feel when I’m triggered by this pattern?
- Are these emotions rooted in the truth or a reaction to a programmed belief?
- Is this pattern a symbolic substitute?
- And so on…
Conscious eating allows you to do this work because it slows you down and tunes you in. It takes all of the external noise and turns the volume down while amplifying what’s going on inside of you.
This isn’t woo-woo stuff. If you want a clear action step, it’s this: take the eight conscious eating strategies I outlined in part 2 and add a journaling exercise.
You can ponder the above questions all you want and nothing will change. Things will change when those thoughts become real on paper, in a journal. Not just the initial thoughts, but the deeper thoughts that come as you peel back the layers.
(Keep in mind, the questions you’d ask yourself are also dependent on the trigger you’re struggling with).
What you do once this awareness builds depends on what you uncover. Unfortunately, there’s no blueprint for that. It’s why I recommend you find a good coach or program to guide you (shameless plug: hey, here’s one!).
Just know that antagonism ultimately fails. It might get you ready for your bikini this Summer or for the Christmas office party, but nothing is really changing.
Conscious eating is the amicable strategy I recommend you use if your goal is to heal your relationship with food, succeed long-term, and end the constant struggle.
There’s one more part to this series! Make sure you’re on my newsletter so you don’t miss it.
Kevin Geary is the founder of RebootedBody.com and a respected expert on cravings, eating psychology, and long-term habit change. He’s worked with thousands of men and women in over 35 countries around the world through his online academy and programs like Shut Down Your Sugar Cravings.