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Follow Your Values for Better Eating

Values is a word I don’t hear much. Now, we’re all about liking and not liking, dividing the world into “good” and “bad,” and deciding what we should or shouldn’t be doing to live “right” (whatever that means). None of these terms hits the mark for me as well as values, an entirely different kind of animal.

When we value something, we believe it’s worthwhile and matters more than lesser things. Our values are the foundation for our happiness and well-being. Valuing is far more than liking. Moreover, we can value something without liking it. For example, I value my health, even though I don’t enjoy having a colonoscopy or a mammogram. Many dysregulated eaters are hung up on being liked rather than being valued or valuing themselves, or needing to find immediate pleasure in activities rather than doing them because they are life-enhancing. Alternately, some people have no clue what they value or what matters most to them and simply go with the flow and follow the crowd.

As the year draws to an end, I challenge you to not only deeply consider what you value, but to make a habit of acting on it. This is a bold, courageous endeavor for some of you. Maybe you weren’t encouraged to develop your own value system as a child, or what you valued was pooh-poohed or bulldozed right over by the adults in your life. By adulthood, you may have lost even a shred of an idea about what you value and go along with what your spouse, siblings, parents, friends or children think is worthwhile.

Not knowing what you value makes it especially easy to fall into trouble with food. Many dysregulated eaters are stumped about what they value. Maybe you hate large friend or family gatherings because they’re filled with superficial chatter, and what matters most to you is meaningful time with people you care about and don’t often get to see. Maybe what’s valuable to you is having time to yourself, especially during the holidays, not running around to every event you’re invited to. Perhaps what feels worthwhile is being with your friends and not family members who make you anxious or angry. Alternately, at this point in life, perhaps your main interest is discovering what you value and eliminating the “shoulds” you’ve learned along the way which haven’t served you well.

If the upcoming year were your last one on earth, what would you value? The same old same old that you never gave a hoot about or something that’s in sync with what most matters to you? Consider and follow what you value for the rest of this season and see how that impacts your eating and relationship with food and yourself.     


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