Changing How I Feel About Food From Pain to Pleasure: Eating as Practice in Self-Honesty.

I’ve struggled with my relationship with food for a long time.

Whilst food is genuinely an enormous joy for me, I usually feel terrible after a meal.

This may surprise you.

I’m generally known to be a careful, healthy eater (I did just write a post about being vegan!)

Very often my meals include a generous portion of guilt, self resentment and feeling a lack of control.

The truth is,

  • I finish food even when I don’t like it
  • I eat so fast I often don’t taste my food
  • Frequently I’m not even sure I like what I’m eating
  • I eat because I think I “should”, not because I’m actually hungry
  • Buffets are a nightmare because I can’t stop myself
  • I constantly over-eat until a food baby is about to pop

… And then feel terrible because there’s no way I’m going to feel confident about wearing that dress for date night.

AND have just blown my exercise efforts.

AGAIN.

Damn it Sonia!

Why did you have all those melon pans!

It really was pantastic, although I probably could have stopped at one.

What is Self-Honesty?

1. It means accepting and acknowledging myself, even when I wish things were otherwise:

  • Wise inner Sonia (WIS): “Yes Sonia, unfortunately no matter how tasty, 3 melon pans will definitely make you feel ill.”
  • Me: “Nooooo!! Whyyyy!!”

2. It means not running away from uncomfortable things, like saying no:

  • WIS: “Just say ‘thank you very much SQ flight attendant, but I will not be wanting that bread roll with this meal.’ Easy.”
  • Me: “God that is so awkward!!”

3. It means listening to my actual wants and needs, NOT those I think I should be having:

  • WIS: “Do you really want this, or do you think you should just because the poster says it’s a local speciality and has Justin Bieber on it?”
  • Me: “I don’t know who to trust anymore!!”
“It is too late to say I’m sorry”: I would not recommend that deep fried Mars bar…

I wrote earlier about why self-honesty is so important to me, and is really the main reason for why I’m taking a year off from work.

To replace my old habits, I had to practice.

Eating was the perfect situation to practice self-honesty, because it was

  1. Something I do everyday
  2. Totally in my control
  3. And had great potential to increase my personal happiness

To practice self-honesty in eating, first I set a goal.

The Goal: I’m bringing sexy back

I want the experience of eating to be enjoyable:

  1. Where food is a source of genuine pleasure, NOT pain or guilt
  2. I’m making informed choices based on needs & desires, NOT circumstance or habit

Following this month’s theme on focus, I borrowed a book on Mindful Eating from the library for some inspiration on how I could get there.

I’ve decided to start a food journal for 30 days:

Weeee, glitter and bunnies!

How I’m practicing mindful eating:

  • Halving food on my plate at the start
  • Pausing mid-way with hot tea for at least 2 minutes
  • Describing taste and texture
  • Sniffing everything
  • No distractions (phone, TV, music, etc)
Sniff sniff sniff

Having meals alone has been easier, but I’m getting better at mindful eating even in social settings by reminding myself to ‘do one thing at a time’ (ie, listen OR eat, not both).

In my journal, I practice self-honesty by noting:

  • Hunger levels on a scale of 1 to 10 (Before and After)
  • Colour coding each item eaten based on enjoyment
  • Noting down thoughts that arose
  • Learnings for next time

I’m now on Day Four and already enjoying myself a lot!

More on my learnings after I’ve completed the 30 days. 🙂

What about you?

What makes you happier around food?

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