I spent most of my life as one of those women who “had it together.” I was good at making sure that things got done, and following a to-do list. And it paid off — especially in school and at my job.
Unfortunately, when it came to my eating, that same attitude led me to obsess about everything I put in my mouth — so I’d either feel deprived (if I stuck to my strict plan) or overwhelmingly guilty. And that would lead to an extremely unhappy cycle of overindulging and then desperately trying to cut back.
Eventually, I figured out how to break free of the cycle: how to listen to my body about when it is hungry, and figure out why the heck I wanted to eat when I wasn’t hungry at all. It really was, hands down, one of the best things that has ever happened to me — I never thought I could be someone who could order cake in a cafe without a second thought (and without feeling remotely guilty or worried about my weight afterwards), but that is actually what happened to me.
But stopping that obsessing about food is especially hard if you are an over-thinker, planner, worrier, or just a general type-A person.
Just telling yourself to “stop obsessing” never quite seems to do the trick, right?
I hear you.
Here’s the thing: I’m not going to sit here and tell you to just “stop thinking so much” or “it will be fine,” because I’ve never seen just telling someone to “stop worrying” work for any of my clients, and it doesn’t work for me, either.
In my experience, obsessive brains are calmed by proof that things will be okay, not by empty hopes. So here’s what I’d suggest you try:
1. Set your intention, every dang day.
A huge source of anxiety is just from not knowing if you are doing the right thing. So I actually want to make sure that you (at least in the beginning) have a really clear set of goals, and that you can track your progress against those goals.
The first part of this process is to set an intention, each morning, for what your goal is with food (or any part of your life). It could be: “I want to eat when I am hungry today,” or “I want to take good care of my body.”
It could be anything. But define it for yourself, and write it down.
2. Keep a food journal.
The second key step in this process is to have data — actual hard facts — about your eating.
That way, when you start to obsess or worry or wonder, you can say to yourself, “Nope, Kate, you ate when you were hungry every single meal today! Nothing to worry about!”
That’s so weird, I keep eating cookies that I don’t even want at 4 pm, between my last two meetings of the day. I wonder why that is?
If the thought of a food journal freaks you out and reminds you of miserable diets and makes you want to eat an entire pizza in the next fifteen minutes, you don’t have to worry. My version of food journaling is completely different, and calories are unlimited.
If the thought of a food journal freaks you out and reminds you of miserable diets, you don’t have to worry. My version of food journaling is completely different, and calories are unlimited.
Here’s an article I wrote about how to keep a non-judgmental food journal – check it out, and commit to keeping one for at least a week or two.
3. Reflect on your day, every dang day
At the end of your day, you really do have to make a few minutes (even just five!) for self-reflection. Here’s three great questions to get you started:
How was I able to put my intention into practice today? Or not?
What am I learning about myself as a result of this exercise?
What changes will I make tomorrow about what I’ve learned?
Make sure to write them down, and yes, answer the same questions every day. It might seem repetitive, but trust me on this one. This exercise is extremely powerful if done of the course of 1-2 weeks.
Your strong work ethic – the same thing that helped you be one of those people who “gets things done” in other areas of your life – may actually be a great thing for you in this situation. If you can do these things every day for two weeks (and it should take only 10-20 minutes a day), I’d love to see what happens to you!
And you don’t need to do this forever! I certainly don’t! But for many people (especially habitual worriers), it is a great first step to gather data and calm down the worrying mind.
Finally, I’d love to hear from you. Are you someone who worries incessantly about your eating? What has worked for you? Join the conversation in the comments below!
This CE test is based on the book “The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight, and Gain Health” (2007, 387 pages). Lifestyle changes, including diet, nutrition, exercise, yoga, and meditation, have been proven in research to have multiple beneficial effects on health, including preventing and reversing heart disease, reducing cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, encouraging weight loss, preventing and reversing type 2 diabetes, and preventing and ameliorating cancer. The Spectrum is a research-based lifestyle change program which has been proven effective for multiple health conditions. This course includes a description of the major components (nutrition, stress-management, and exercise) and mechanisms of action. Research on The Spectrum is also described. The book is accompanied by a guide to cooking, 100 easy-to-prepare recipes from award-winning chef Art Smith, and a DVD which provides instruction in meditation. By taking this course, clinicians will learn how to prevent and treat some of the most troubling illnesses of today through lifestyle changes, while avoiding the need for expensive surgery and medication.
Effective treatment of eating disorders requires multidimensional and individualized interventions. Education that addresses the normal nutritional needs and the physiologic effects of starvation and refeeding is a critical component of treatment. Management often requires long-term nutritional counseling of the patient which may extend several years. This course will describe the rationale and use of providing Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) for the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, and Binge Eating Disorder. Included are: Criteria for Diagnosing Eating Disorders; Role of Dieting in the Development of Eating Disorders; Symptomology; Treatment Overview; Nutrition Therapy; Reconnecting with Hunger and Satiety; Use of Exercise; Working with a Therapist; Pharmacotherapy; In-Patient versus Out-Patient Treatment; Refeeding; Establishing a Dietary/Eating Pattern; Comparing Traditional and Health at Every Size (HAES) Approaches to Health Enhancement; Recovery from Eating Disorders; Nutrition Care Process; and the Core Minimum Guide. This course was developed by the Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for their Manual of Medical Nutrition Therapy to provide Licensed and Registered Dietitian/Nutritionists (RDNs) and technicians with evidence-based, non-biased information on nutrition for eating disorders.
Susan Moyers, PhD, MPH, LD/N Overweight and obesity constitute one of the nation’s ten leading health indicators with nearly two-thirds of adults in the United States now classified as either overweight or obese. Before any diet and physical activity program can be personalized and implemented, a nutrition assessment is needed, along with an understanding of the individual’s readiness to change and motivation. This course was developed by the Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for their Manual of Medical Nutrition Therapy to provide Licensed and Registered Dietitian/Nutritionists (RDNs) and technicians with evidence-based, non-biased information on the prevention and treatment of obesity in adults. Topics covered include: obesity synopsis; reimbursement considerations; nutrition assessment (diagnosis, intervention, monitoring and evaluation); pharmacotherapy for weight-loss (prescription and OTC); and physical activity. Nutrition education handouts are included at the end of the course.
Statistics report that Americans are an increasingly overweight population. Among the factors contributing to our struggle to stop tipping the scales is the component of “emotional eating” – or the use of food to attempt to fill emotional needs. Professionals in both the physical and emotional health fields encounter patients with emotional eating problems on a regular basis. Even clients who do not bring this as their presenting problem often have it on their list of unhealthy behaviors that contribute to or are intertwined with their priority concerns. While not an easy task, it is possible to learn methods for dismantling emotional eating habits. The goals of this course are to present information about the causes of emotional eating, and provide a body of cognitive and behavioral exercises that can help to eliminate the addictive pattern.
So often, we think of nutrition and its relationship to our bodies from the neck down. How it affects our heart, how it affects our colon, for example. Why do we not acknowledge its impact on our brain health as well? If a patient were to undergo an elective surgical procedure, he or she may be advised to lose weight, gain weight, or avoid certain medications or herbs beforehand. These recommendations are made to help ensure maximum recovery with minimal complications. Why would we not take this approach when dealing with mental illness as well? Shouldn’t we try to achieve optimal nutritional health of the brain if we are trying to heal it?This course discusses how good nutrition impacts a person’s mental health and well being. Includes discussions on “mental wellness” versus “mental illness,” hypothyroidism and it’s impact on mental health, neurotransmitters and amino acids, glycemic index, vitamins, fatty acids, caffeine, chocolate and aspartame, and herbal supplements and medications. Case studies are provided. This course will give the reader some insight into this concept, by providing the student with clinical research, anecdotal information and a good background for understanding the role nutrition plays in mental health.