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Find Your Own Approach to Eating

  • Eating

Too many dysregulated eaters try to copy a particular style or approach to eating rather than develop one that’s evolves from their life experience and leads to embracing best practices for them. Their attitude is “tell me what to do and I’ll do it,” rather than “give me the information and I’ll make it mine in my own way.” I speak as a psychotherapist, author and recovered weight-obsessed dieter and world-class binge-eater, when I say there is no one right way to eat. There is only a best way that works for each of us. 

My client Kara is an example of finding your way through the morass of information on what and how to eat. We’ve been working on healing her dysregulated eating for years and she’s read every book or podcast I’ve recommended and then some. She’s dieted and run marathons, been a gym rat and let her membership lapse time and again, and tried intuitive eating, but has never been able to pull away from bingeing and overeating for good. Recently she realized she was searching for the holy grail of eating rather than creating an amalgam of what’s best for her appetite, lifestyle, and metabolism. Funny, now that she’s stopped searching for the “right” path, she’s finally on it!

Rather than pressuring herself to eat or skip breakfast when she gets up in the morning, she waits until she’s hungry and eats oatmeal and berries, a combination her body craves and she enjoys. She’s switched from focusing on weight loss exclusively to wanting to be healthy for now and for the future. Yes, she desires to lose weight to feel better in her body as much as to feel better about it. She’s no longer driven to get fit. Rather, she’s focused on mindfulness and consistency, not perfection. 

For the first time since I’ve known her, she recognizes that she truly can eat whatever she wants. She’s her own person now, not a child whose mother allowed her to eat only healthy foods, so that she rebelled and ate everything but. At a party, she allows herself cake, but feels neither compelled to eat it nor prohibited from doing so. She’s in charge now, the expert on what and how much to eat.

This shift is more than about eating. Many dysregulated eaters live by shoulds and external rules and seek the “right” way to do most things. But, just as there’s no “right” way to live, there’s no “right” way to eat. When you feed your body what it wants in satisfying quantities while also recognizing other factors that influence these decisions (what you ate earlier, for instance, or might eat later), your mind and body work seamlessly together to provide a relationship with food that keeps you both happy and healthy. When you shift your focus from outward to inward, you’ll see amazing changes.