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I was talking with a friend over dinner one night about how she and I were proof that enduring change around food really does happen. She and I were serious binge-eaters earlier in our lives, decades ago. She even wrote about her food excesses in a national women’s magazine! Now in our 50s and 60s, we’re radically different people than we were in our food-hazed days. We eat mindfully and enjoyably, with attention and care. Our wild and crazy eating life is long gone—we have changed our brains permanently!
I blog about permanent change for those of you who are just now thinking about improving your relationship with food to let you know that this huge transformation is definitely doable over time. When you’re in the initial stages of trying to quit bingeing, purging, or overeating, the endeavor seems enormous and impossible. You start out with a teensy sliver of hope (else you wouldn’t even try), but you really have no idea how arduous the journey of recover is. It is arduous, but it does have an end
I also blog for those of you who are frustrated with the process, in the thick of it, at it for years or decades and uncertain you’ll ever come out the other end. You make progress, then backslide. You “get” it for a while, then feel as if you’ve never heard of the process of “normal” eating. You’re tired of putting constant energy into thinking about food, experiencing emotions, making conscious, sound food choices, and wonder if you should give up and simply go back to dieting or food abuse. Trust me, it’s worth it to keep trying. The only way you’ll fail to reach your destination is to give up.
I blog, too, for those of you who have made many changes in your eating and your life, but still have one or two areas which don’t seem to budge. You do fine most of the time with food, but awful when you visit your family, or you eat intuitively for months on end then get super-stressed at work and go on a week-long carb bender. You need to figure out exactly what needs to be different and problem-solve in challenging areas, recall how far you’ve come and how you did it, identify your hurdles, then leap over them.
The goal isn’t to be a perfect eater (my friend and I aren’t), but we don’t struggle with food any more. We occasionally over- or undereat, but the desire to binge just isn’t there. Our brains have changed from doing new behaviors far more often than old ones. Destructive impulses have died out. New neural pathways have grown in their stead to help us make healthy decisions for ourselves around food and areas that impact eating. We’ve acquired new live skills. And we got where we are because we wouldn’t give up.
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