Does it sometimes seem like food can be an answer to everything? Had a hard day at work? Why not relax with some creamy pasta? Have something to celebrate? A dinner out is always nice. A heartbreak or disappointment isn’t fixed but might be comforted with a bowl of ice cream in front of the TV.
If you’re tired, sugar is easy to reach for, and munching on candy is a great way to distract yourself or just get through the work you don’t want to be doing. Got stress? You might not even realize that you reached for the snacks until the bowl or the bag is almost empty.
Yep, for many women with a lot going on, food becomes a convenient, easy, low-maintenance band-aid for whatever needs attending to.
What happens when you want to change this?
Here’s the interesting thing. The biggest mistake that most people make when they want to stop overeating is that they focus their efforts on . . . the food. They develop a plan of what and when and how much they’ll eat. That’s how diets work (or actually—don’t work—but that’s another story).
You see the problem, don’t you? If food is the “answer” to everything and you take food out of the equation, then you are left without an answer (by the way, food really isn’t the answer – but you know that).
If you’re eating for the wrong reasons, the only way to make a change that is satisfying and lasting is to find other answers, solutions, or strategies that address these reasons. Preferably ones that work better, address the real problems, and aren’t temporary or surface fixes.
Real Change Means Making Peace With Food
In Your Missing Peace: The Coaching Club, I walk you through a process for making peace with food. Peace with food is different from losing weight (although people who make peace with food often lose weight), enduring a diet or food plan (peace with food is not about doing something with food you don’t want to do), depriving yourself, and going “without,” or feeling out of control and resigned to a life where food is “the answer to everything” (except that it really isn’t). Peace with food happens when you move beyond food struggles and toward more satisfying solutions.
The Path to Peace With Food
It’s important to know that peace with food is available to anyone. Really. No matter how long you’ve fought with food or your weight, no matter how much you struggle with emotional eating, it’s possible to create a new and improved relationship with food. Just like any change, it’s a process of taking the correct steps and making adjustments and changes—in a way that works for you.
1. Peace With Food Requires New Answers
Peace with food only happens when you move beyond the food and start creating better, more effective, more satisfying answers. When you have a range of strategies to comfort yourself, to celebrate, to cope with anxiety or stress or boredom or loneliness, and when you know how to really zero in on what it is your spirit is needing or craving (the things that are not food)—guess what happens? Food loses some of its charisma and its importance. Oh sure, it still tastes good, and sometimes you’ll want to eat more than is really good for you, but the struggle to NOT eat and the drive to overeat or keep eating, is transformed. Because food doesn’t have the power that it once had—and—because you now have some higher quality solutions.
2. Peace With Food Takes Courage (and it takes you new places)
A client told me recently that she’d never have predicted where she’d be now, seven months after she began working with me to transform her relationship with food. She’s thrilled with where she is. She’s made changes in her life that feel really good. She’s created more time for herself and she is addressing some needs she’d been trying to ignore for a very long time. She also shared that she’s not nearly as hungry for food as she once thought. She’s feeding herself in other ways. She feels in control of her weight. But she has also learned that in some ways, using food as the answer was easier than addressing the real problem was (at least in the beginning). It has taken courage to ask herself what she really needs. However, by taking that courageous step, she’s feeling more grounded, more balanced, and more satisfied than she has in a very long time. Having support, guidance, and community as you make these changes makes taking those first steps easier.
3. Peace With Food Takes Time
The thing about food is that it’s easy and it doesn’t require a lot of dedicated time to eat it. If food is the “answer”, you can comfort yourself, respond to your stress, chomp out your frustration, or soothe your hunger while still driving the carpool, working late, or doing that volunteer project you committed to finishing. Food is a seductive choice because you can squeeze it into a very full life.
The real solutions—the enduring, satisfying ones that address your real needs—tend to require more thought, and commitment. Before you shake your head in despair, know that I’m sharing some critical information here. If you’re tired of failing with diets and food plans, it’s time to ask yourself whether what you really need are the tools and support necessary to create the mindset, skills, and strategies that will allow you to live a life that feeds you. A life that works for you and allows you to thrive—one where your needs count and you feel comfortable saying no and asking for help (among other things). This often requires a redistribution of time and energy, and some new learning, but getting there is usually not nearly as drastic and difficult as you might think. Members of Your Missing Peace are often surprised at the power of simple, well-thought-out strategies and changes.
Creating peace with food is a process that occurs over time. While it doesn’t usually happen overnight, it can be amazing how seemingly small shifts can lead to big changes.
4. Peace With Food Takes Support
We live in a food-intensive culture and you may be living your life at a mile-a-minute pace. Food isn’t something you can take or leave—you have to negotiate your relationship with food all day long, every day—in the midst of everything else. Your relationship with food runs long and deep. Many people keep their struggles with food very very private, often because they carry shame or guilt with them about the role food plays in their life. Guess what? The shame, the guilt, and the emotional baggage related to food take a toll. It can be very difficult to escape from these feelings in the privacy of your mind—the same mind that tends to see food as the answer. But make no mistake, if you have these feelings, they can keep you powerfully trapped in a relationship with food that does not work.
It can also be difficult to generate new approaches and new answers to that question: “If food is not the answer, what is?” –especially if you have spent years seeing food as the best solution you could come up with. Someone who “gets it” and who already has the tools and strategies can be invaluable in helping you craft the road map you’re craving for breaking free from these struggles. When we’re knee-deep in guilt or self-blame, the tendency is to isolate, but members are continually surprised by how much lighter they feel at the end of a Zoom coaching call when they are reminded that they aren’t alone and that the path forward can be simpler than their inner critic wants to make it.
The cost of doing battle with food
Struggling for control and doing battle with food on a daily basis is what NOT being at peace with food looks like. For most women, the costs of fighting with food, weight, and eating add up. Over time, these battles erode self-confidence, affect your emotional and physical posture, your sense of effectiveness, and even your hope and outlook for the future. Struggles with food can also eat up a depressing amount of time and mental energy. Because we learn best by example, they tend to be passed from generation to generation. These battles rob women of energy, vitality, and passion. As long as food is your mechanism for coping, and as long as this allows you to avoid creating more meaningful, nourishing, and lasting solutions, your life is simply not as big or as full or as vibrant as it could be.
Quite simply, battles with food wear women down and wear women out. Making peace with food changes everything. Are you ready to take your first step? Enrollment is open for Your Missing Peace and I’d love to have you join us.