Most dysregulated eaters have difficulty switching from the diet/weight-loss mentality to a “normal” eating mindset. If you find this shift a challenge, you’re not alone. It will take time and an understanding of the process to reach your goals. If you don’t give up and, instead, keep at refining your thinking, you’ll get there—most likely not in the time frame you wish, but gradually and eventually. This is how change works for all of us.
Take my client who was “struggling” with not thinking about calories and the scale, and who was unsure of how to frame her thoughts when making food decisions. She said several times in a session that although she wished to be a “normal” eater, she also still wanted to lose weight—as if we both didn’t know this after years of working together (on eating and family issues). I finally asked why she kept repeating that she wanted to lose weight when both of us were well aware of that fact. I asked about other things she wants or has wanted and she agreed that she didn’t need to keep repeating those desires, but simply knew she had them. Seriously, aren’t there things you want, but you don’t mention them every other sentence or think about them every other thought?
You keep thinking and talking about losing weight because you erroneously believe that doing so will make it happen. Instead, it becomes an obsession. And, rather than help, it makes you more anxious that you haven’t shed pounds which depresses and disappoints you. Ergo, stop thinking and talking about wanting to lose weight, as it only puts pressure on you and bums you out (and makes you want to eat for comfort). It’s okay and understandable that you have this goal, but stop using it to motivate yourself and let go of it as a preoccupation. If you must become preoccupied with something, let it be becoming healthier and improving self-care. These are both excellent goals to think and talk about, with yourself and to others, as well as terrific motivators to help you become a “normal” eater.
Aim to replace weight-think with health- and self-care-think.
My client was uncertain how to approach making eating choices if not in terms of calories or fat grams. By focusing on them, she felt (resentfully) as if she were on a diet. She wasn’t sure if thinking about eating healthfully and feeling proud of herself was any different. It is. By switching to a health and pride focus, she reframes her decision-making in a more positive light. You’re not using a diet mindset when you say that you wish to nourish yourself well with food. A diet mentality is about feeling deprived, whereas a nourish mentality is about giving to yourself. Forget scales and calorie/fat counts and make food choices out of how well they nourish you and how proud you are of making healthy choices for yourself.