I’m here today answering three of your questions around self-care and intuitive/mindful eating. Enjoy! If you have a question, be sure to post it in the comments so I can answer it in a future post.
Q: “How do you dive into self-care when your identity is rocked? Where do you begin rebuilding your self-esteem?”
A: The reader who sent this question in is going through a tough time. She shared with me that she’s going through a breakup with someone who was quite critical of her. Now that they have broken up, she is struggling to not believe all of the hurtful things her ex-boyfriend would comment on.
She’s wondering how she can take care of herself moving forward and where to start.
Here’s what I would say. Love yourself up like crazy. Right now, you’re in a delicate place. You’re grieving, so you’re going to feel more vulnerable than you normally would.
When negative thoughts come up or you start to question “man, did I really not wear enough makeup?” or other things he used to be critical about, remember that you’re in this delicate space and that it’s normal to question things right now (that happens with grief).
That doesn’t make any of the things he said true.
When you do not feel like you can be yourself around someone, that is a very real feeling. Reassure yourself that you’ve made the right choice and that you do not need to apologize for who you are. Remember that all you are resonspilbe for is taking care of yourself.
So what needs to be taken care of? What parts of you need your attention? What things did you feel limited on when you were in the relationship? How can you experience more of those things that you love now? Really tune-IN and let your self-care be *doing more of the things that you love.*
For example, when I got out of a relationship that made me feel less than, what helped me heal was to do all of the things that I loved again. All of the things that made me feel good. I started taking great care of myself because I was motivated to do so (not in a restrictive or punishing way – but from love).
Also, go pick up the book Self-Compassion and learn how to be incredibly kind and gentle with yourself.
Q: “When you first started your intuitive eating journey, what are some of the things you did to help you overcome your anxiety around eating different foods?”
A: I can literally feel back to what that anxiety felt like, so I hear you, dear reader!
I’m going to use ice cream for example. I used to have SO much anxiety around eating ice cream because my only experiences with it were eating five bowls over piles of homework, which left me feeling sick, out of control, and unsatisfied.
Here’s what I would say… BEFORE you eat do two things 1) visualize how you want to feel when you’re done and how you want this eating experience to go and 2) get CALM before you start eating. Wait to eat those fear foods until a time where you feel a bit more relaxed and present.
When you go through that visualization of how you want the experience to go, really notice your environment. Is your ice cream (for example) in a bowl? Is it quiet? Are friends there? Are you alone? What do you notice? Where are you sitting?
With the foods that are a bit scarier for you to eat, be extra gentle with yourself. The ironic thing is, the foods you are going to be present with are also probably the foods that you usually DON’T like to pay attention to when you eat them. It feels WEIRD to give yourself full permission to have these foods.
Using ice cream as an example… When I first started eating it with permission it DID feel weird. Sitting at the table reminded me that I was ALLOWING myself to eat this ice cream as a normal part of my life. THAT was strange! But, it had to be okay. I had to work through that if I was going to learn it was okay.
So I’d make a small bowl of ice cream, I’d make it really pretty and appealing to look at. Then I’d take it over to the table, grab a place mat, and sit down. I’d eat the ice cream, one bite at a time, totally soaking up the flavors and tasting it, remembering the whole time that I was safe to eat it.
I want you to imagine yourself as a kiddo who was afraid of dogs. You’re at the dog park. To get through your fear, what would you rather? That your mom throw you into the doggy park? Or that she take you over to the pups and gently show you that they were nice and safe to be around?
If you’re like me, it’s the second option.
Same thing with food. The food ISN’T going to hurt you. But you need to trust that you can build a positive relationship with it. That’s okay. Recognize that there are some foods that you’re totally comfortable with and others that you want to be more gentle with at first. Until you’re comfortable.
Q: “How can I eat mindfully with a one year old? I find myself eating whatever my daughter doesn’t finish and I pick the whole time I’m cooking or putting her plate together. I never actually make myself a plate and sit to eat.”
A: What a great question! I used to experience this ALL THE TIME when I babysat. I had to realize how UNSATISFIED I was every single time after I nibbled off of the kids plate, or every time I DIDN’T make myself a plate and sit down. That was the first step.
Once I noticed that, I had to practice what I like to call healthy discipline and wait to eat. Wait until I had my own plate of what I wanted to eat. In the moment, I had to really coach myself through: “this will not be enjoyable to eat this leftover grilled cheese. If you want a grilled cheese, make yourself a good one.”
It took a LOT of reminding and attention in the moment, but once I got good at this discipline it felt so good to recognize that I could choose to do what was satisfying in the moment vs. automatically doing what I knew wouldn’t make me feel good.
Recognize that there is no such thing as perfection here. Sometimes you’ll take a bite (or several) before you realize “Oh yeah, this doesn’t make me feel good.” If that happens, you’ve got to call a truce and write it off. It’s OKAY.
As you read this, it’ll probably make sense. An unrealistic expectation would be to think that you will from now forward get this 100% right just because it makes sense. That’s not how this works. You will succeed and fail (for lack of a better word; really, there is no such thing as failure, only feedback) at this, and from there, you’ll be motivated to choose what feels good more often.
When you’re in a moment of recognizing “this isn’t going to satisfy me at all,” stop what is unsatisfying and ask yourself what you want. Do you need to make something good to eat to satisfy you? Do you need a break? Do you need to go to bed? What do you actually want?
For me, there were many times where I’d be mid half-eaten grilled cheese and I’d have to stop, pause, and recognize how unsatisfying it was going to be if I allowed this to be my dinner. So I’d stop, toss the leftovers and make a satisfying grilled cheese (or something else that I wanted) and sit down with it.
It really only takes a few extra minutes and saves you all of the energy in the world when you don’t have to deal with the endless thoughts of “you always do this and can’t stop and when will this end and why do I do this when I don’t even like it?” You know what I mean, right? You can relate?
Grace grace grace. Grace, not perfection.
If you’d like to leave a question for me to answer in my next VIP Q+A please do so in the comments! Share with me your takeaways and what you can relate to most in this post. I’d love to hear! Love you all so much!