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One of the biggest problems in becoming a “normal” eater is working at it for a while, then giving up and going back to mindless eating or dieting. If you stop and start, no wonder you feel as if you aren’t getting very far. No innate defect is preventing your success, however. Rather, you’re underestimating what you need to do to change.
You’ve been to school and know that gaining proficiency in a subject takes focused attention for months or years, but generally this isn’t the mindset you use for learning to eat “normally.” Instead, you dabble at acquiring skills, become overwhelmed at what you don’t know and can’t do, feel disappointed, believe the process won’t work for you, and give up. Better to tell yourself, It will take time to become highly skilled, so I guess I’ll have to hunker down, put “normal” eating in the forefront and make it my #1 priority.
The process does work and it could work for you if you changed your expectations and stayed with it long enough. You have to think of learning to eat “normally” just as you do about getting an education. When you enter college, a training program, or any kind of class, you don’t expect to know at the start what you’ll know at the end of it. You recognize that you have lots to learn and will manage to do so by the time you’re done. You don’t get bent out of shape that you’re not as skilled as those with more practice. This is the mindset you need to teach yourself “normal” eating attitudes and behaviors
You also have to work intensely hard, as you would in school. Homework, studying, spending hours practicing, and devising methods to remember what you’re supposed to know. You will not succeed unless you view the process exactly this way. You can’t eat mindfully for one meal or one week, then forget about learning eating skills, and expect to succeed. This will only get you frustrated. You have to put in the effort and give the process the attention you would give to learning other skills or bodies of information.
People who succeed push themselves to eat “normally” every single day. They spend quality time focused exclusively on changing their irrational thinking. They recognize that change will take months or years. Of course, if you’re depressed, it’s harder to stay hopeful and sustain motivation; if you have ADD/ADHD, it’s tougher to keep focused on building skills; if you’re anxious, it’s more difficult to manage emotions without food. But most of you have finished some type of formal learning in spite of these difficulties because you busted your butts to do so. Give yourself over completely to the process with every fiber of your being, and you will see the changes you want in your eating.
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