How to Trust Yourself with Food, Eating, and Hunger | TMOHP Episode 123

Have you ever thought about your pattern of overeating or emotional eating and thought that it’s so entrenched or so tangled up that you’ll never be able to change it? Spending time on the overeating/diet/overeating hamster wheel is not only exhausting, it takes a toll on your beliefs. Over time you lose confidence. You question your own inner strength. Sometimes you question whether your goal is even possible, or whether you need to be “more realistic.” Diets teach you to make unrealistic promises to yourself - things that you will do “perfectly” when this isn’t possible. You’re not unusual if you feel less confident in this area of your life. You aren’t alone if you don’t really trust yourself with food or with eating or with hunger. You aren’t the only smart woman who isn’t sure what to eat or even if she “should” eat right now. How does this happen?

In this episode I’m sharing one story that is actually the story for many, many women. Once you understand how trust is lost, you’ll also be clearer on how to begin to rebuild self-trust and ultimately, how to feel confident and powerful with your eating again.

In this episode:

  • When you have a diet program running constantly in your head
  • When you don’t know how to trust yourself to make decisions about how much or what to eat anymore
  • How you stop trusting yourself with food, eating, and hunger and how to start growing your self-trust and confidence again

Enjoy!

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Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz and find out how to start tackling the root of your overeating.
  • Your Missing Peace  is the program for women ready to stop overeating and emotional eating for good. Enrollment is open and NOW is the perfect time to join us! Go here to learn more
  • Private Coaching for Emotional Eating and Overeating: I have openings in my schedule to work with about twelve women a year and openings are filled as space becomes available. Private coaching meetings are scheduled via Zoom or phone and we can connect from anywhere in the world. Private coaching is customized to you and your goals and we'll work together for a minimum of six months. Learn more and apply here.
  • Visit http://toomuchonherplate.com for more tips and resources to create peace with food and overcome overeating and emotional eating

Enjoy the show?

Full episode transcript:

Hey, everybody welcome back to the podcast. Today we are going to have an advanced conversation that I think you need to hear. I'm going to give you an inside glimpse of some coaching that happened inside Your Missing Peace. This is a topic that is so important. We're going to talk about self-trust.

And I'm going to give you the honest details of this coaching that happened with someone who has been doing real important work on herself within my six month program for creating freedom from overeating.

If you're new to me or to my approach, and maybe even if you're not, this is an episode that you may want to listen to more than once. Even if it doesn't make sense completely, if it doesn't all make sense at first. This is something that your brain needs to hear.

So let me tell you the story of someone we will call Mary, which is not her real name and I've changed some of the details to protect her privacy. Mary came to our coaching meeting and she said she wanted to talk about a realization that had been unfolding for her. She said, you know, I have been reflecting on the whole diet industry and all my experience. My life of being on diets, and I'm realizing this stuff owns my mind.

I'm becoming aware that even though I don't believe in this stuff, I think I have memorized every little bit of information. Every sheet I've ever been handed in my life. I have internalized it there, the caloric value of everything.

All the ideas of what I should do clear out the pantry, get rid of this group. Don't eat this. Good foods, bad foods that I need to eliminate. It is all there. This program running in the background. And I don't know how to make choices anymore without running that information. I don't know how to be free to make choices and to create a relationship with food. If I am free to make the choices, what about the good food and the bad food and all the rules?

And also, she said, there is this permanent story there that I can lose the weight. I can be very good and efficient at losing the weight when I run all these things and follow all these rules. But I can't keep it off. Right? You won't keep it off. You know you won't keep it off.

This is relatable stuff, isn't it? And so I asked Mary, I said, if you could flip a switch in your brain. And all that old stuff was gone, all those old programs. How do you imagine that you would make decisions about food and feeding yourself and eating? How would you do that if all these rules were just erased from your brain?

And she thought about it for a while. And she didn't have an automatic answer, but she said, you know, I think there would be an element of trust which, to me has been destroyed every time I have ever been on a diet and off a diet. Every time I've gone on and off, then I don't trust.

She said, you know, I know you're supposed to trust yourself, but I don't trust myself. And I said, okay, so what are signs that you trust yourself? And she said, okay, well, that judge, that calorie counting program in my mind would not be running. I wouldn't have to clear out the pantry. I wouldn't have to get rid of everything that is on the bad list. I wouldn't have to clear it all out. I wouldn't have forbidden foods.

She said there could be things. And there could be choices. Instead of rules, there could be choices. She said, I could trust myself to have things in the house. I could have cookies in the house, which I don't right now. She said, I don't have that kind of trust in myself. But if I did, there would just be food and there would be choices and I would get to be the one that makes the choices and makes the decisions.

I would make choices. And it wouldn't take a lot of labor or guilt or shame or anything that goes with that diet personality that's taken up residence in my mind. She had this really clear picture. Right? This thing is running in the background. It's like this program you don't want to have that's taking up disk space on your computer.

And Mary said, you know, there would be freedom, there would be freedom to have or not have, or to be honest with myself when I go shopping. She said, I want to be able to be honest with myself when I go shopping. I want to actually have a clear thought that I want that, or I don't want that. I don't like that. That I could choose and without the, the interruption, the static of the diet brain, I could choose if I trusted myself. I could be in charge. I could know what I wanted and I could start to figure out what works for me.

What Mary wants, that trust and confidence in herself is so incredibly important. It is so basic and it is something that is so broken in so many smart women who have been around the block way too many times with overeating and with emotional eating.

There is this thing that happens and it has scarred so many of you and affected your confidence and your self-trust. And so today I want to talk about that how to get your trust in yourself back. How to get your trust back with yourself with your food with your eating.

This thing that has happened, it starts with diet mentality and perfectionism, and it leads to poor results, to unrealistic expectations, and to a trail of broken promises, and then guilt and shame and self-blame. And usually more overeating as a way to cope with all of this.

Self-trust is really all about knowing that we can keep and will keep our word to ourselves. That we can count on ourselves. And that gets broken and eroded so much in cycles with dieting and depriving ourselves and then overeating and perfectionism and all or nothing thinking, which is also a big part of diet mentality.

You need to be doing all the things and getting them all right and not having any missteps, not having any bad days. Nothing is ever good enough. It never feels like a promise kept.

That program that Mary was talking about running inside her brain, that conditioning of diet mentality and diet culture and deprivation thinking and perfectionism is that it always needs to be more. It always needs to be, you know what, if I'm going to do this, I should just do this. I need to dive in. If I'm going to be giving this up, I ought to give this up too. I could do more. I could always be doing more.

Perfectionism and diet mentality drive us to make big, huge, giant, unrealistic commitments and promises. Diet mentality does this, and it drives us to make promises to ourselves that we cannot keep. They are unkeepable. Either because they are too big, or they are too global, or they are too forever. Because it's got to be 100 percent all of the time, and that's just not possible.

And so what happens for a lot of really smart women is this cycle of perfectionism. Making gargantuan promises that are based on unrealistic expectations and also on a lot of deprivation. And that also include very little, if any, acknowledgement of what we really need.

We don't keep these promises. We can't keep them. They are a setup to fail. The rules are impossible. And over time, the pattern of deciding you'll change your eating, you'll stop eating all the snacks at night, or you'll lose the weight or whatever it is?

The pattern of making these decisions becomes unbelievable. When you repeatedly fail to follow the diet or the plan, you don't believe in your ability to keep your promises. You eventually don't trust yourself. And, here's the double whammy, diet culture brings it all back to self-blame. If you didn't get the results, it's all your fault. If you blew it, forget that the system is set up to not work for you. If you blew it, it's your fault.

This is a system that breaks self-trust. It breaks your confidence in yourself. And the thing is, you have to have self-trust to create peace with food. Part of leaving this system behind and building something better begins with a foundation of self trust. You have to have trust in your ability to listen to yourself. To pay attention to what you really need to feed your hidden hungers. You have to trust yourself as someone who will keep her promises to you.

Mary was asking about how to get the diet mentality out of her brain. How to stop relying on rules that she no longer even believes in and how to build a trust and a confidence and that she knows what she needs. How can I get some of that? How can I trust that I'm capable of feeding myself?

Mary is working on figuring out how she can make more promises that she can keep, not just any promises, not a set of promises that that diet program tells her that she ought to make. She wants to make promises that she has discerned are good for her and good for her goals.

So here's the direction that things went in this coaching meeting from Your Missing Peace, because part of building back self-trust is to start to practice making promises that you can keep to yourself. Commitments that you do keep to yourself. Commitments that you can keep to yourself. Because when you keep your promises, you build self-trust.

And this is where it can get a little tricky. When you start to build a track record of keeping promises to yourself, you are also going to have that part of your brain that Mary recognized that says, well, that's not anything. What are you doing? This is stupid. This is a waste of time. That was a little promise. You're not using this program. You're not taking enough steps. You're not doing enough.

Your brain might talk to you like Mary's brain. It may say that you, what you really need to be doing is to get the crap out of your pantry. Right? You should be eliminating all the things. You should be doing more.

Here's the thing though. Self-trust is going to be built on small, consistent promises that you keep. Small, consistent promises. So what could that look like? That might be a promise like, I will practice listening to my hunger and feeding myself when I'm hungry. I'll practice feeding myself when I'm hungry.

By the way, this is a really important promise. You cannot always be promising to stop when you're full or to not eat so much if you aren't also rigorously, honorably promising yourself to feed yourself when you're hungry. Promising yourself to take care of yourself. Sometimes the first step to curbing overeating is honoring your need to feed yourself.

One of the hardest things about starting to make promises that you can keep is ignoring that diet brain and keeping it simple. Practice making promises that you can keep, that you know you can keep and that you will keep. So that you can build a belief in yourself again.

In that coaching session, to go back to that, Mary said something so powerful. She said, you know, I think part of getting my trust back is actually valuing what is already in place. I need to value the promises that I have kept because I have kept some promises, but perfectionism says it's, it's just, it's not enough. It wasn't big enough. That wasn't a real promise. You're not doing enough.

So on top of everything else, I don't let the promises that I do keep count. And that wears me down. So she said, I need to say, you know what? Okay, this is good. I've done a great job here. And I need to give credit where credit is due because there is credit.

So the task is to practice making promises that you can keep. Small doable promises. And also make sure that you're recognizing and honoring the ones that you have made and you have kept. If you have one of those days that we all know so well where everything hums along just fine till about three o'clock and then it all starts to fall apart. And then maybe you get home from work and you don't do the thing that you planned and you're cranky and you eat some stuff you hadn't planned on. That doesn't mean that you didn't keep some promises during your day.

Diet brain says it's all ruined. Diet brain says it's a catastrophe. Diet brain says it's all over. But what Mary said is so important. Honor and recognize the promises that you did keep. That you do make and that you do honor. Because they do count.

So Mary's on to something so powerful there. And I think looking for the promises that you will make and also the promises that you have kept can be really powerful. You can start your day asking yourself, what is a promise that I will keep today? What do I promise myself today? Or what is a commitment that I'm going to keep today?

You can look for the promises that you do keep. Write them down, check them off. Give yourself gold stars. Part of the learning curve here is that you are going to make promises that are too big. That are unkeepable. And you are maybe going to do it all over the place because you have been conditioned to do this.

As you work to grow your track record of making promises that you can keep and build back your self-trust, you will make on keepable promises along the way. And this is not because you're no good at keeping promises. It is because perfectionism and diet culture have taught you that all your promises in this area have to be unrealistic and unattainable. And then it's your fault.

So, catch yourself, notice what's happening. And then practice aiming smaller than you think you should be aiming as you make your promises. It's just like taking small steps. You want to make small promises, smaller than you think they should be. The goal, what you are aiming for, is to build a trail of kept promises.

So, think about what you are 100 percent certain you can do. And maybe you don't make a bunch of promises in the morning. Maybe you make your promises one at a time, an hour at a time, or one a day. You want to create a trail of kept promises. Over time, your confidence and your trust will build. And over time, what is also going to build is your clarity about what you want to promise yourself and what you don't. What, what the promises are that are actually just diet talk in disguise that don't really work for you.

I think about what Mary said about truly feeling free when she can go to the grocery store and know and honor what it is she wants to put in her cart and what she doesn't. What she can commit to. And follow through on. And also the promises that she doesn't want to keep. The things that she knows she doesn't want to eat or commit to eating or plan to eat over the next week and then fail on herself with. Because she didn't really want to do that in the first place. It was just diet brain talking.

Here's what happens as you practice making these promises. And by the way, Mary has been practicing making these promises. And over time her ability to make and keep these things and to also be discerning about which ones she doesn't want to fall into because they're not really her promises. Her ability to do this has grown.

There are people inside Your Missing Peace who have gotten to a place where it does not feel like deprivation to say something like, you know what? I would like to promise myself this week that the kitchen is closed at seven o'clock.

For them. It feels like a commitment. It feels like a promise that they want to make to themselves. It does not feel like the diet brain running in the background. Now, when they started in the program, they didn't have the self-trust or the belief to do that. It was diet mentality ruling them and telling them that might be a good thing to do. Right? Now it feels different.

Every single one of us knows that diet rule. Right? The, the rule, and it can be different, that you don't eat after whatever time, or you only eat within a certain window. That can be a rule that is imposed on you that might work really well for you, or it might not.

That can be a piece of conditioning running in your brain that leads you to make a promise. I won't eat after such and such a time. That isn't a keepable promise for you or that isn't a promise that you actually want to keep.

Here's the thing though once you have done this practicing once you have built up the trust and the belief in yourself. Once you have built a track record of listening to yourself and learning how to make and keep smaller promises to yourself. It becomes possible to trust yourself with bigger things. To build confidence, to do things like not eat when you're not hungry. Or like deciding to not eat after a certain hour. It becomes something that you can be curious about experimenting with. Or putting into practice for a while.

These women I'm describing aren't coming at these kind of promises from a place of deprivation. They are making a promise to themselves about something they want to try. Or making a promise to themselves about something they want to honor because they know what works for them.

I know there's a lot to unpack in that last part that I just said, so you may want to listen to that more than once. And if you have questions about it, come on over to my Facebook group and we can continue the conversation.

Here's what I want you to take away from this. The more you collect the promises that you can keep, the more you can start telling yourself and believing, I'm a person I can trust. I'm a person I can trust with food. I'm a person who will take care of me. I'm a person who nourishes and feeds herself. I am a person who can make promises to myself that I can keep.

And the more you do this, the more you practice this, the more you will believe it. Because you will be collecting evidence of your trustworthiness all the time. You will be seeing and experiencing and honoring the promises that you're keeping. And just to repeat, because we all need this on replay, I cannot overestimate or overemphasize how utterly human it is to try this and to initially create promises that are too big.

If you stop there, if you don't let yourself see that, okay, this is a human thing, and at first I'm going to make some promises that are too big. And, oh, this is how I got into this place of distrust in the first place. If you just stop there, then you've not kept a promise and you can use it as confirmation that you can't trust yourself.

Broken promises lead to a lack of self trust and confidence. Which lead to beliefs like, I am lazy and I don't have willpower. But here's the thing, nobody has taught you to make doable promises with food. And you can learn this. You can practice this. You can build this muscle. And you can get your self-trust and your confidence back.

With food. You can get your self-trust and your confidence back with having your own back. You can get your self-trust and your confidence back with creating freedom from overeating. And when you do it, it feels amazing.

So start making small promises. Smaller than you think that you should make. Smaller promises than your diet brain will tell you count, whatever that means. Start making small promises and start building back your self-trust.

I'll talk to you soon.


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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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