I’m a health columnist and health blogger. Friends and strangers come to me asking for nutrition and fitness advice. I routinely set up health challenges and read health books and articles of all varieties on a regular basis. Yet: I still struggle with my emotional attachments to food.
Three and a half weeks ago, I started Operation Lose Five Pounds. Over the course of those three and a half weeks, I have successfully lost and gained the same 1-2 lbs. I’m at the same place where I started nearly a month ago. In some ways it just makes me feel like a fraud.
Naturally, this is really frustrating. The good side of it is that I haven’t gained anything since the start of this challenge, at least! I’ve been having some difficulty in pinpointing my exact problems with why I can’t seem to lose the five pounds. I know that I’m still eating for maintenance rather than loss, but for some reason it’s incredibly tough to cut back- I haven’t been able to figure out if it’s because I’ve “forgotten” what it’s like to be in weight-loss mode, or if there’s something deeper.
Last Friday, my nutritionist Nicole and I met up to discuss the book that we’re writing. She was telling me that most of her clients experience a cycle in which they have to alter their internal attachments to food, and then they are able to address lifestyle and social changes. When she said this, it occurred to me that in comparison to most of her clients, I’ve done it all backwards.
When I first began my healthy journey several years ago, I was care-free enough to not have any strange attachments to food or any exercise addictions. It was fairly easy to lose weight, because the simplicity of burn more calories than you consume was straight-forward enough for me to accomplish. Fast forward about five years and I’ve experienced a whole lot more of reality, which means that I’ve (somewhat ) ventured outside of the safe bubble I grew up in to get my knees scraped a few times. I wouldn’t trade the burnt fingers and scratches for anything, but it also means that things are no longer quite so simple as they used to be.
I didn’t have to address any internal issues several years ago because I didn’t have any internal issues. All I had to tackle was adjusting my social interactions (for example, making better choices at restaurants, meeting friends at the gym instead of over drinks, etc etc). These days, I’m great at maneuvering my way through a social event, but my internal issues haven’t been completely dealt with.
I don’t believe that there is one right way to go about doing anything. However, I think that if I can really pinpoint all of my hidden underlying issues related to food, then I will be able to have a healthy relationship with food and successfully accomplish Operation Lose Five Pounds. I’m going to be trying a few different approaches to achieve a sort of double-pronged “attack” on my issues: I figure that the more things that I try (one by one, that is; not all at the same time!), the better equipped I will be to dealing with the issues.
Nicole has me “talking” to my food when I’m able. The idea with this exercise is that if I talk to my meal after I’ve prepared it, about anything that I just wouldn’t talk to other people about, then I will be able to eat the meal without any emotional attachment to it. The food will cease being an escape or an outlet, and it will be reduced to nourishing goodness.
I’ve been doing this for a little while now, and I do find that it is helpful. Sometimes it’s just gibberish that I spout out; other times I only talk for a minute or so. But somehow, it’s a release. No matter how weird it sounds, it works for me, and that’s what’s important!
I have also borrowed a hypnosis CD by bestselling author Paul McKenna from a friend. I’m looking forward to trying that, as it’s something I have never done before.
Do you have emotional attachments to food? How do you deal with them? Have any of you tried hypnosis? How is Operation Lose Five Pounds working for you? Let me know your thoughts on any and all of this!