Sticking to a diet or an eating plan isn’t easy, it goes against our very nature, and may even ignite a battle with our own bodies. It’s just plain hard! Giving up foods that you love is hard. Saying “no” to sweets and treats can be hard. Finding things you CAN eat, and also enjoy, can be very, very hard. It takes tons of energy, constant vigilance, and, the harder it is, the more you may worry that you’ll blow it and eat something you shouldn’t.
And if you do blow it, you may over-compensate by restricting even more, which is even harder—so the cycle continues, fueled by guilt, remorse, and self-blame. This merry-go-round is so stressful, so not fun, it’s no way to live!
Thank heaven it doesn’t have to be that way…
When we go on a diet or eating plan, we encounter challenges: almost everyone does! We’re human, and eating is primal. We’re wired to eat, and when something gets in the way—even with the best of intentions—there’s a reaction: we want what we can’t have. We may feel powerful urges toward the restricted food, cravings that are hard to handle. So, what do we do? We fight them: we use Willpower to resist.
The problem is that we have only so much willpower available to us—it can sometimes be replenished, but there are limits to how long we can resist temptation. If Willpower is your ONLY resource, eventual failure is almost assured. That’s why the vast majority of people fail to lose weight and keep it off in the long run. That’s why compliance with eating plans is so poor—even among people with serious, even life-threatening health conditions.
So what’s the alternative?
Instead of fighting cravings with Willpower, defuse them with Awareness and calm them with Compassion:
Awareness of what your body’s needs really are,
Awareness of why you want that particular food,
Awareness of what situations trigger your cravings,
Awareness of what you value more than any food.
Compassion for your own feelings and needs,
Compassion for the situation that’s driving you to eat,
Compassion for your cravings—they’re simply human,
Compassion, instead of guilt or shame, if you do “blow it”.
It may feel odd at first, like a muscle you haven’t used in a long time, but with practice, this will show up naturally, like an old friend. In the end, Compassionate Awareness is more powerful than Willpower, and it feeds on itself—it’s its own reward. Not only will you find it easier to comply with your eating plan, you’ll be happier too! Is it simple? Yes. Is it easy? No, but it can be learned and developed.
Compassionate Awareness is a foundational skill of Aligned~Intuitive~Mindful Eating (AIM Eating), and in the beginning, it takes attention and practice. Over time, like a muscle, it grows stronger.
So, how do you start?
To strengthen Awareness, when you face temptation, try to pause before you eat and take a deep breath or two. Ask yourself:
“Why do I want this right now? What am I feeling, what do I need, what’s going on?”
To build Compassion, you might try a simple practice called Metta, or Loving Kindness, that I’ve shared before. Whenever you feel a strong urge to eat, repeat to yourself 3 times or more:
“May I be safe, May I be healthy, May I be happy, May I be peaceful and at ease”.
So, whenever you get that impulse to fight food with Willpower, pause for a moment and muster up some Compassionate Awareness instead. Then choose to eat, or not, WITHOUT GUILT—And remember to SAVOR EVERY BITE!
There’s lots more I’d love to share with you! Please join me in a free Appetite Breakthrough Session. We’ll look at your biggest eating challenge, and together we’ll create a strategy for dealing with it. Just CLICK HERE to Schedule your free Breakthrough session!