Self Compassion and My Food Freedom Win!
Hi friend, I have a story to tell you about a huge Food Freedom win that I had last week. I woke up on Tuesday and realized I had a business lunch. My first thought in bed was “I should skip breakfast.” Self compassion? Food freedom? Not exactly.
I often overeat out of social anxiety when I go out to lunch for business or otherwise, so my conditioned and disordered, yet all-too-common thinking went to “skip breakfast to save up for lunch.”
Does this sound familiar to you?
I sat there for a few minutes and felt a nag at this thinking… feeling uncomfortable with the thought instead of just letting it sit there naturally.
Then began the internal dialogue…
“Hmm… are you sure you want to skip breakfast? You’re on Day 12 of Whole30 and doing so great! Part of the program is eating 3 meals a day and learning to eat mindfully—to pay attention to your body, listen, and stop eating when you’re full.
Skipping breakfast to accommodate your anxious eating is really just fueling the fire, isn’t it?
What if you ate breakfast, and then also ate lunch—and when you go, you eat mindfully and with intention, while being present with the conversation, instead of trying to escape?”
I don’t know if I could have said this to myself a year ago.
I might have been able to say it to someone else, but it would have been very challenging for me to have this kind of productive self-talk… with a tone of kindness and curiosity.
I did, in fact, eat breakfast. And then I went to lunch, and ate that mindfully, too!
I set an intention before going in to be there to connect—be present with the conversation first.
While I ate lunch, I did so with consideration and patience (I tend to eat quickly in general, but especially around other people).
There were a few moments when I found myself eating without paying attention, trying to fill the space, but I didn’t leave stuffed and came back to my intention throughout the lunch overall. I was really proud of myself!
Now, I’m not telling you about this moment of appreciation to make anyone else feel bad about where they’re at.
Wherever you are right now is perfect, whether it’s where you want to be one day or not.
But I do want to share my excitement about believing change is possible.
We may have conditioned ourselves to turn to food to escape feelings, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
It’s possible we’ve spent our whole lives feeling guilt and shame around food, but it doesn’t have to own us forever.
We may continue to have those disordered thoughts that don’t serve us, but we have the power to overcome them and live more mindfully and authentically.
I think many changes over the last few years have contributed to shedding this conditioning. My meditation practice and my appreciation practice are certainly playing a role, but I think self-compassion is perhaps the most important and foundational.
Learning to talk to myself honestly, and with compassion—as a friend.
We are so much meaner to ourselves than we ever would be to another human.
Would you ever say some of the terrible things you say to yourself to someone else? Likely not.
Retraining my brain to not default to judgment, and instead to practice kindness is what I really believe made this experience possible for me last week.
I’ve embraced many of my own exercises to practice this along my journey—writing myself letters as someone else, visualizing talking to another human, self-compassion meditations, etc.
Self-Compassion expert Dr. Kristen Neff has many exercises on her site that tune into this practice—here’s the first one I’d recommend trying if you are trying to foster more self-compassion.
I know that to some, being nice to yourself might seem like a stretch or a waste of time when the goal is to get healthy, lose weight, or not feel owned by food.
But I don’t think true freedom can arrive without self-compassion.
Self-compassion fosters resilience, which we ALL need on this daunting journey to a healthy relationship with food.
It also reduces judgments we place on ourselves and others. Self-compassion enhances our own self-worth and improves our body image—all of which I think are essential to find balance with food and health.
I encourage you to just pay attention this week—what does your self-talk sound like?
What’s the tone you take when you talk to yourself? What about when you talk to others? Is it different? Why is that? Let me know what you find by replying to this email!
I appreciate you. Without your support and encouragement to pursue my own journey to authenticity, I don’t think I’d be finding my own Food Freedom.
Sending light and love your way,