Food can bring people together—just try to think of one major event or holiday that is not marked by a shared meal. However, for many people, food can also be crutch, something that holds them back and prevents them from living the life they want. In this week’s blog and podcast, I talk with certified eating psychology coach Jessi Jean about compulsive eating habits and self-sabotaging behaviors, emotional binging, the different kinds of eating disorders, why diets often don’t work, and how to find freedom with food.
It is important to note that eating disorders fall on a spectrum. Most people try every type of behavior on this spectrum, from binge eating to restricted calorie intake. The problem is an unhealthy dynamic with food, not specific labels or behaviors.
Acknowledging that you have an issue with food doesn’t make this issue your identity. We should never give a label power over our mind. Indeed, this is why many traditional approaches to healing eating disorders and addictions can be counterproductive and have such low success rates. When you take on the identity of being “broken”, it can be very hard to believe that true healing is possible.
As Jessi points out, an unhealthy relationship with food starts as pathways of behavior in the brain. The more you think about and practice the unhealthy behavior, the more you train yourself to function this way; you program in a response. To heal, you need a reset or update…you need to come back online and change your thinking. Remember, as I always say, if you wire it in, you can wire it out! Change is possible. There is always hope.
If you are unsure if you have an unhealthy relationship with food, you need to ask yourself, “how can I train myself to function in different ways?”. Jessi has some great questions that can help you explore this:
- Do I ever feel a sense of a loss of control over food? Do you feel driven by an outside force/impulsive drive?
- Do you feel guilt or shame for what you have eaten or not eaten?
- Do you hide or eat in secret?
- Do you overly plan with food?
- Do you use external needs to guide a natural, internal process?
If you answered yes to any of the above, there are thankfully many different techniques to help you find more freedom with food—Jessi outlines them in detail in her excellent online food freedom program. Some of the most helpful and effective ways to heal your relationship with food, however, are quite simple:
One of the best ways to recover from a disordered eating pattern is to come out of isolation and connect with others; this is a fundamental human need. Being around people who love and support you is one of the best ways to heal an unhealthy relationship with food. It not only provides a loving support system when needed, but also a way to hold yourself accountable and help you change your mental habits surrounding food.
2. Learning to work in sync with your mind.
Jessi has found that working on your mind first thing in the morning can help you train your focus, reduce impulsivity, detach from toxic thoughts and strengthen your internal locus of control. The more you do this work, the stronger your brain will become, which will help heal your mental relationship with food.
Remember, you don’t break habits, you replace them. When you practice editing your thinking, you can create a vision for what you do want, as opposed to just focusing on what you don’t want. As you utilize techniques like meditation and mindfulness to install your dreams and desires in your brain, you develop your self-awareness and regulation, shifting energy to the kind of life you want to live.
The Switch app is also a great tool for helping you learn how to manage your mind and relationship with food. It is designed to help you deal with the roots of your mental distress, and overcome negative thought patterns and behaviors that impact your mental and physical health through the mental process of reconceptualization (it is now on sale at 50% off for a 3-month subscription).
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1:45 Why you need to give yourself permission to reinvent yourself
5:11 Why the things we are trying to hide from others will eventually explode
9:50 Healing your relationship with food is a multidimensional process
15:26 True behavior change is identity-shifting
17:55 Food and addiction
25:00 What is binge eating?
31:00 How to find freedom with food
39:34 What is the difference between binge eating and behaviors like bulimia and anorexia?
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