I struggled with food since I was at least 15 years old, and through those years, I deeply ingrained certain thinking patterns that kept me stuck from having a “normal” relationship to food, and being a “normal” eater.
One of my patterns or, as I like to call them, “cognitive distortions,” was black and white thinking around food.
Until I really became aware of how my brain worked around food, I didn’t even know I was engaging in these patterns, I wasn’t really seeing the whole picture because I couldn’t step away. I had no objectivity. My landscape was colorless.
I believed my unconscious messages that basically drove me to follow my urges to go “hide” in food, over and over again.
Until one day I realized I was basically binging almost every night, hiding, and doing my best to have a “normal” looking life around these habits. They were almost like small daily rituals that kept me stuck in disfunction and shame.
When I ask others to walk me through a day around their meals and food, I am not really interested on what they eat (I am NOT a nutritionist and do not believe in telling people what to eat. I do believe it’s important to see a Health at Every Size nutritionist if you are in early recovery and completely out of touch with your hunger and fullness signals, but it varies per client.) The reason why I do this is because I want to get clear on their “cognitive distortions” and judgements around food and food behaviors.
If you struggle with food, just like I did, you probably have lots of them. And it’s not your fault. They have been ingrained in you by years and years of habit.
For example, in my constrained thinking I would “either eat no chips at all, or the whole bag because I already messed up.” I would “either stick to my food plan, or eat all my “bad” foods because heck, I need to let loose now.” Or I would believe my thinking that there are “good” and “bad” foods. The problem with the “good/bad” food mentality is that at some point, you feel so out of control around food, that everything becomes a “bad” food. I could have binged on protein bars and vegetables at some point, and would ask myself,
How did that just happen?
I was eating my “good” foods? no?
I guess those are “bad” foods too now!
Black and white thinking kept me stuck and made my life too constrained. It was as if I was looking at a black and white image of a beautiful, peaceful landscape…yet I was missing out on all the colors and textures, and I didn’t even know. Because my “black and white” thinking had become my normal.
It was only once I began to be aware of these patterns, separate from them and fully challenge them, that I started my journey to food freedom. It was only when I accepted that life is full of imperfect meals, imperfect food choices and messy, imperfect eating habits and that is fully ok. once we really get this, food begins to stop having power over us and we get to see the other colors, the textures.
In the beginning, you accept that food choices will always be “imperfect” and the colors begin to reveal. Always, the new gifts.
Today, three years after I decided I was ready to leave my black and white thinking behind. I see all the colors again.
I don’t even think in “perfect/imperfect” anymore, because I don’t judge my food or food behaviors. Food is just there, it’s something I go to when my body is hungry, I enjoy it a lot, then I move on when I’m full. If sometimes I eat past my fullness signals, I don’t care. I move on.
Life hasn’t been a piece of cake these days. As I attend to a family illness, I also get to sit in dark moments with myself and feel what I need to feel. In the past, this would have been a great opportunity to go “hide” with food. Today I just couldn’t care less about food. No more black/white. I know that there is always light and there are always colors revealing themselves over and over, even in the moments of darkness, I don’t need to go back to structure and “black and white” thinking just to feel in control.
If you are still struggling with food, there might be some “cognitive distortions” we need to challenge and I hope you reach out so that we do this together. I’ve been pretty busy helping others re-program their brains and thinking patterns so that they stop depriving themselves physically and emotionally, and in turn, their relationship to food heals.
I thought I would always struggle with food, but for me, freedom happened once I allowed myself to fully EAT.
I have no need to go back to my binge eating days. I say this with humility because I think it is possible for you too and this is why I love helping clients with a roadmap to success or hearing them say “Carolina, you just GET how my brain works around food!”
How wouldn’t I? I’ve been there!
There are other coaches and eating disorder therapists (a.k.a I am NOT a therapist) who, like me, believe complete food freedom IS a reality.
I hope we can carry the message to as many people possible because I am personally tired of seeing you struggle with food. Diet’s don’t work. Black and white thinking around food keeps us stuck. We live in a culture where a multi-billion dollar diet industry full of messages and images feeds into your own diet-mentality, and this prevents you from fully having an intuitive relationship to your food and movement. Once you can see how you have been affected by this, you can truly begin to heal and re-connect to your wants, needs, cravings, and desires around food. But, also, around life.
You get to see the whole landscape again, with all the colors and textures. You get to experience the real beauty out there. And it might feel scary at first, but it is totally worth it.
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All the love,