3 Simple Steps to Keep Your Sanity With Food During the Holidays

I understand this is also a completely non-magical time for many that can be filled with painful memories, reminders of what is lost, financial stress, and complete overwhelm. However, the tips included in here will hopefully serve as a reframe of what this time can bring to you! Which can always be a time of giving to yourself, first and foremost.

79FA8D7C-7447-4326-ACFF-CCF8DCD00238.JPG

The winter holiday season has special air of magic.

Children are over the moon about the festive decorations and the thought of Santa arriving, the streets are filled with magical lights and decorations, parties are in full swing, people are putting on their holiday best, and there are more indoor social gatherings than any other time of the year.

As someone who just adores quality time with the people I care about, this time of the year is incredibly special to me! Plus, I’m a sucker for the festive decorations and seasonal foods & treats. 

While there are so many special things about this time of the year, it can also be a trigger for:

  • Emotional eating

  • Stress about losing control around food

  • Bingeing as we anticipate starting a new diet come January 1st

These completely remove us from the present moment and any potential magic.

What a shame, right?

Rather than spending all of our precious time and energy on tightly controlling our bodies and food consumption or stressing about how all hell is breaking loose, we can vow to commit to just a few practices throughout the holiday season.

These aren’t rules—they’re the building blocks to a relationship with food that is based on FREEDOM. A sense of freedom that transcends the holidays and empowers us to turn inward for the answers.

1.     Get Present

This is a non-negotiable, truly, and it’s the difference between success and struggle with my clients. This can be especially difficult during this hectic time of the year, which is why it’s even more important to give this gift to yourself!

Meditation is my preference (as you likely guessed if you follow me), but even a few minutes of deep breathing alone, journaling, or a walk outside can bring you back to yourself. Connect to your inner landscape, and you’ll instantly find yourself back in your power.

2. Ask yourself this simple question: Does this choice 1) empower me physically or 2) up-level my soul experience?

Don’t get caught up in the nuances of what “soul” means—it’s simply a term that defines the deep, meaningful desires of our mental and emotional selves.

If you’re clearly not hungry and/or don’t anticipate needing additional food energy (empowering yourself physically) and/or it’s not really lighting you up from the inside out (up-leveling your soul experience), then pause and sit with the desire for a moment.

If the desire to reach for food isn’t prompted by one of the two driving factors above, then it’s likely caused by an emotional trigger:  

  • Stress

  • To numb or distract

  • Boredom

  • Loneliness, etc.

While food is appealing in the moment, it’s a band-aid solution that will only lead to us feeling worse in most cases.

Our intentions behind our choices are the focus here.

3.     Mind Your Business

It can certainly be frustrating to find ourselves justifying our decisions to family and friends if we’re not going overboard on food, booze, and treats—or if we are. Oftentimes, we’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t, so it’s important to keep your focus on you!

While it’s important to draw boundaries from the judgment and opinions of others, we also need to ensure we’re not allowing the choices of others—especially if we deem them to be “healthier” or “better” than our own—to derail us from our own intuition and responses to Number 2 above. 

Someone will always be eating more vegetables, drinking less booze, eating less dessert, or eating smaller portion sizes. Those choices have absolutely nothing to do with your own, so keep your focus inward when making your food choices—mind & body.

These are similar to my recent thoughts on traveling, as the holidays are also fleeting with so much potential for magic.

However, this time of the year shouldn’t be used as an opportunity to harm ourselves with the guise of celebration.

Gorging ourselves with processed foods and booze in an effort to numb or circumvent discomfort isn’t serving us in any way.  

It’s certainly not up-leveling our physical or soul experiences—it’s detracting from both of them!

Get yourself grounded in the present moment, assess the motivations and intentions behind your impulses—physically and mentally—and maintain this inward focus in the face of external influences.

We only get to experience this amazing season once per year, so don’t let the opportunity to make the most of it while feeling your best pass you by!

How to Not Lose Your Sh*t with Food While Traveling

584BFAB0-40F7-4FD6-B1EE-205A2586034D.JPG

I just returned from a two-week vacation in New Zealand for the wedding of two wonderful humans, and it was refreshing as all hell!

It was also exhausting, but I (mostly) accepted that as part of the journey. Only some complaining about it:)

As someone who loves to travel internationally and experience new cultures, cuisines, cities, and adventures, I was forced to face my fear of losing control and going off the deep-end years ago.

In fact, when I backpacked throughout SE Asia for three months in 2014, it was the beginning of a very healing journey for me—in all aspects of my life, but especially food. 

I succumbed to the lack of routine, the unusual (to me) foods, the lack of sleep (those overnight buses were ROUGH), and the absence of gyms. I decided that if there was ever a time to release the reigns and really double down on trusting myself, that was the time.

And so I did.

I committed to honoring my body and treating it with kindness and respect—a completely foreign concept to me at that point in time.

Listening to hunger signals and eating when I needed to, not when my three girlfriends were hungry. 

Listening to fullness cues most of the time. When I decided to eat beyond the point of satisfaction, it was a very conscious choice.

Not eating to numb or distract from feelings of discomfort.

Asking myself if and when I truly wanted to consume alcohol. On that particular trip, I had maaaybe one drink every couple of days, and that was the perfect amount for me.

Developing this trust in myself around alcohol was one of the most liberating tools I acquired during that time.

Exercising when I wanted to—not due to any feelings of guilt or unworthiness. This usually meant bodyweight workouts or runs after long, overnight bus rides or when I needed to process energy.

To be clear, this wasn’t comfortable right off the bat. It was VERY uncomfortable in the beginning, and I feared that I would blow up from the lack of rigidity. To my surprise—the opposite occurred.

I lost weight—seemingly effortlessly!

While this wasn’t my intention whatsoever, it was incredibly eye opening for me.

I realized that I had it wrong all along.

My body is actually on my side, and it will settle at the weight it feels most comfortable with given my lifestyle and priorities at the time.  

My job is to let it do its thing.

My journey with food and my body endured additional ebbs and flows once I returned to the states, but that extended period of travel taught me that travel is nothing to fear and has everything to teach us.

My Recent Trip

This most recent trip to New Zealand was a very different kind of trip from the one described above. I traveled with around 15 friends for a significant portion of it, had zero alone time, was constantly on the move, drank a significant (for me) amount of booze, and ate quite a bit of processed foods.

Yet, I didn’t doubt myself, my intentions, or my actions once.

Why?

Because I’m now able to see the bigger picture, and I trust myself and my body.

I don’t follow “rules” about filling up with protein and veggies, drinking a ton of water, not standing in particular parts of the room near food. NOPE.

I focus on ensuring my mind is right, that I’m actually living—not preparing for it—and that I’m being mindful of both my body and soul.

These are my top mindset tips and approaches to keep in mind while traveling, especially this holiday season!

  • Allow Room for Change – Our bodies are ever-changing on this journey, as are our lives. If you don’t want a stagnant and boring life (I don’t), then you can’t expect your body to exemplify those traits. Essentially, loosen up a bit!

  • Play the Long Game – Trips are temporary, and healthy foods and opportunities will be more readily available once you return home. What you do the majority of the time is what matters.

Interestingly, this isn’t even comforting to me anymore. I trust my ability to adapt to these situations so much now that I look forward to the change and excitement of the new!

  • Prioritize Your Mental Energy – Using mental energy on the unhealthy choices or the calories you’re consuming will instantly take you out of the present moment. What a tragedy it is to miss out on creating memories for such trivial matters!

I experienced this on a trip to Machu Picchu in 2015, and I vowed to never make that mistake again. 

  • Weigh the Balance of Body & Soul This is the big kicker, right here. Listen to what your body is telling you, and weigh that against what your soul is craving.  

Does your body want rest and a night off from alcohol, but your soul is calling for another night out on the town with friends and a couple drinks? Which is more important to you in the moment, and is the payoff the next day worth it?

You won’t always get this answer right (you’ll know the next morning), but keep asking yourself these questions, and you’ll hone the skill of balancing these competing priorities.

The only “rule” I tend to follow is the last one, where I listen to both my body and soul, consider the action that will balance both of them (although they’re usually aligned), and act accordingly.

It’s tempting to cling to rigid rules that make us feel safe and in control, but the experience of travel should feel anything but. It’s the whole point!

If you’re fortunate enough to be able to travel to various parts of the state, country, or world, then don’t let the amazing opportunity to go waste by playing small.

You already have everything you need within you. 

How I Navigate My States of Anxiety & Take My Power Back

Disclaimer: I do not have clinical anxiety, nor am I formally educated in this realm, so please don’t take this advice in lieu of that of a medical professional.

4473A67B-80C6-43D4-B727-D88E1BF3A202.JPG

I was struck with intense sensations of anxiety a few weeks ago, and this was due to a multitude of factors. 

  • A few weeks of continuous travel with very little alone time (which is essential for my well-being)

  • Sleep deprivation

  • More alcohol than usual

  • Too little nutrient-dense food

  • Work stress

  • The energy of those around me

Several of these things are within my direct control.

I can make better food choices. 

I can consume less booze.

I can enforce stronger boundaries around my sleep habits and travel plans.

I can ensure my energetic boundaries are stronger when in the company of certain people.

However, work stress is an example of a type of stress that is seemingly unavoidable for many people.

For you, work might be a breeze, but the real stress comes from personal relationships, finances, or health concerns, just to name a few.

While we may not be able control situations like this (at least immediately), we can control our responses to our thoughts and physiological reactions.

The physical, anxiety-ridden reaction might be:

  • Knots in the stomach

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Sweating, everywhere

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Shakiness

  • Or any other manifestations specific to you

Our bodies believe we’re in a state of distress, so our “fight or flight” mode kicks in.

Logically, we may be able to tell ourselves that there is no reason to be fearful if we believe this to be true, but this doesn’t mean the physical sensations will subside. 

Therefore, our only option at this point is to witness these physical sensations. That’s it. Notice and observe them. The minute we try to fight them, they intensify and persist. 

Does this mean the feelings of discomfort immediately dissipate with this observation?

No, but it changes our relationship to them, and this is everything.

(**Does this sound similar to our relationships to our thoughts we aim to achieve during meditation? It should, because it’s the exact same concept!)

Our bodies and minds are strange entities, and they’re often doing their own things without any input from “us”. Yet, we identify with their ebbs and flows so deeply and without hesitation.

Feeling anxious usually involves both our minds and bodies—the incessant thoughts that send us down a spiral of fear and the physical sensations noted above.

All of this forms a seamless narrative that leads us to believe we’re not safe.

In reality, these physical sensations and the accompanying thoughts are transient. They’ll leave, and they’ll return again—as they do for all of us—and they’ll drift away once more.

Rather than jump on this bandwagon and allow these thoughts and physical sensations to control us, we can identify, witness, and accept them.

We can acknowledge that we are not them.

They’re simply part of the human experience.

Where to start

I have experienced great relief by implementing the concepts of my meditation practice regarding my thoughts and applying them to the physical sensations my body experiences during stressful situations. This includes:

1.     Identify the Sensations with Neutrality

Approach the thoughts and physical sensations with a sense of curiosity, and try to simply identify them without labeling them as good or bad.

They’re only negative because we perceive them through that lens, but many of the physical sensations experienced with nervousness or anxiety are the same as excitement. A neutral lens is best.

Whatever you do, do not to label yourself as “anxious”. This indicates a permanent state, which will lead you to believe you’ll never experience reprieve.

2.     Accept the Sensations

The phrase “what we resist, persists” can’t be truer in these situations. I find that the more I fight these feelings, the more they intensify and the longer they last. Rather, I have learned to simply notice and accept them.

3.     Get Curious – Are They Teaching You Something?

This one can be tricky, because our minds and bodies are often sending fearful signals simultaneously during these states. However, if we follow the first two steps, we can then approach them with a sense of curiosity.

Ask yourself—what are these feelings trying to tell me? Have I been burning the candle at both ends? Am I in a job I hate? Am I surrounding myself with negative or dramatic people? Have I been neglecting my nutrition and movement? Journal your ass off and see what comes up!

4.     Control What You Can

Based on the answers you obtain from your curiosity, start implementing measures that will help you course correct onto a path of increased well-being. Personal relationships and financial woes may seem too daunting to change immediately, so start by making a plan if all else fails.

Some ideas include:

  • Time in nature or outdoors

  • Quality time with uplifting and growth-minded individuals

  • Solitude and self-reflection

  • Removing negative or “toxic” people/energy

  • Meditation

  • Journaling for introspection

  • Creative pursuits

  • The quality of your diet

  • Sleep patterns

  • Movement – dialing it back or increasing as needed

Remaining stagnant will only serve to make you feel more powerless.

As I continue to learn and grow, the more I’m accepting that nothing in this life will remain the same.

Our lives will ebb and flow as we move through seasons in life, and the same is true with our states of well-being—physical, emotional, mental.

Meditation continues to reinforce the notion that there is so much power in simply paying attention, observing, and accepting that we have a choice in how we perceive these experiences.

Our feelings and emotions—especially the seemingly unpleasant ones—may just be our best teachers yet if we’re willing to perceive them this way.

How Ditching the Dogma and Embracing the Evidence Helped Me Overcome My Food Obsession

My initial exposure to the world of dieting came in 2004 at the age of 16. After receiving a few comments about my weight and my ability to eat as much as my brothers, I asked a personal trainer about diet and nutrition.

27385832-7E97-4F99-90D7-7F9FCEEECD8A.JPG

As you may recall, Atkins was all the rage throughout the first decade of this century, and my trainer had eagerly jumped on board.

“Eat 4-5 times per day, and don’t have more than 15g of carbs per meal.”

These were his explicit instructions to me.

As was expected, I dropped 10-15 pounds fairly quickly, and I instantly assumed the decrease in carbohydrates was the cause of my weight loss. To be fair, this decrease did cause the weight loss indirectly, but it wasn’t the true cause—it was simply correlation.

What was the cause of the change in body composition and scale weight?

1.     Overall decrease in calories

Fast food after school and before volleyball practice was a consistent part of my routine, so removing the extra bread, tater tots, and soda removed a large chunk of calories right off the bat.

The quality of my food choices increased dramatically as a result of restricting carbs, as most processed foods were now off the table, and I didn’t consciously increase my fat or protein intake either.

Overall, I was consuming less food and calories across the board, which was the true cause of the fat loss.

2.     Water Loss

For every 1g of carbohydrate consumed, our bodies hold 3-4g of water. When we decrease our carb intake, it’s very common to experience fast weight loss within the first two weeks. This is largely a loss of water, not fat.

Do you think I had any clue that these two factors were the true causes of my weight and fat loss? That would be a resounding NOPE.

I relied on the opinions of “experts” at the time, and I didn’t have any clue that the information being touted wasn’t based on sound evidence. Embarrassingly, I was regurgitating this information to others left and right.

I truly thought carbohydrates were the source of all illness and fat gain, so the removal of them from one’s diet was the holy grail.

I was flat out wrong, yet I believed this vehemently for almost a decade.

The Carb Mind F*CK

As a result of believing inaccurate information, in addition to being unwilling to having my opinion changed, I wasn’t open to the notion that my overall food intake was the cause of my weight fluctuations.

Rather than take a high-level, holistic view of my diet, I narrowly focused on the number of carbs I consumed.

I believed it was impossible to gain weight without carbs and that the only way to lose fat was to decrease them, so I doubled down. It fewer carbs was good, none must be better, right?

At this point, my view of food was so distorted that I was obsessively eating avocado, eggs, bacon, and any form of additional fat while keeping my carbs extremely low. The new narrative at the time was (and still is with keto), “you have to eat fat to lose fat”, so I didn’t mess around.

Butter in my coffee? Sure!

The fattiest steak on the menu? I need it.

Extra avocado on my already fat dense meal? It’s not a meal without it.

Note that there isn’t anything wrong with these choices, but rather the false information I believed that was governing them. It had nothing to do with what made my body feel good, so I couldn’t even tell you how my body responded.

The large quantity of fat in my diet led to an overall increase in calories that far exceeded the decrease in carbs, so I started to gain weight. WTF?

I must not be low enough on carbs.

Maybe I need to eat more fat to burn the fat. 

Everyone is saying that undereating can lead to weight gain, so maybe I need to eat more.

And so I took it even further by decreasing my carb intake, increasing my fat intake, and eat more in general. Not surprisingly, my weight continued to climb.

I felt like an utter failure, and my neurosis around food was at an all-time high.

Luckily, IIFYM (if it fits your macros) began to make its way onto the dieting scene at this time, and the premise essentially states that we can eat whatever we want, as long as we hit a specific number of carbs, protein, and fat every day.

This was also gaining popularity amongst the Crossfit community due to the higher carbohydrate content of most of the plans, which led to improved performance outcomes.

This illustrated a few things:

  • The three macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat), in addition to alcohol, comprise our overall calorie intake.

  • We can adjust our macros up and down and transfer between the three-four, as long as the calorie target remains the same.

  • There is room for processed foods in a diet, so long as the overall calorie and macro targets are met.

  • Carbs often aid in athletic performance, especially of the anaerobic variety.

  • Carbs are not the enemy, more fat doesn’t lead to fat loss, and calories are king.

  • I WAS SO WRONG. Like, dead wrong.

  • I anticipated that tracking and counting my food wasn’t a good idea for me mentally, but I was so curious about this concept of eating that I decided to partake. 

I quickly realized that my fat consumption was through the roof, my protein was decent, and my carb intake was far too low for the amount of Crossfit I was doing. Additionally, my calorie intake was certainly over maintenance (the amount needed to maintain my weight).

My dogmatic nutrition world was shattered!

I started enjoying rice, tons of potatoes, and processed foods, and I reduced my intake of added fats, like the butter in my coffee, avocado on everything, and fatty cuts of meat.

To be clear, I didn’t go crazy with decreasing my fat intake, but it was now within a moderate range.

I began to realize that I don’t need the additional fat to feel satisfied as I once thought I did.

My plates started to look balanced—my version of balance—with a serving of protein, carbs, and vegetables at most meals, and the fat came from cooking oils and whatever was in the leaner meats. 

Damn—I started to feel great! My performance in the gym improved, I slept better, my hormones started to level out, and I started dropping some fat.

Do I advocate for counting macros?

No, I don’t. At least not long-term.

I quickly realized that counting and tracking my food wasn’t healthy for me mentally (nor worth it), and it isn’t for many. However, I am grateful for some of the lessons I learned:

  • Science and evidence-based approaches reign supreme when it comes nutrition and changes to body composition. I.e. calories absolutely do matter.

  • People on the internet will often claim that the method that worked for them (n=1) will work for everyone. This can greatly harm their followers.

  • Having blinders on about the basics of calories in vs. calories out spun me in circles for years and only furthered my food obsession.

  • Carbs are beautiful creates, and I love them.

  • Most of us eat a lot more fat than we think we do, which is not a bad thing in isolation, but it is often hindering fat loss. And may not be great for our health, either.

  • By knowing what actually works via science, we’re empowered to make changes accordingly if we wish.

  • If a nutrition plan or diet makes claims that sound too good to be true—i.e. “eat as much fat and protein as you want and lose weight!”—it is.

  • Tracking and counting food can be useful for short periods of time to bring awareness to our skewed perceptions of our intake.

  • Tracking and counting food can further neurosis if we attach moral value to the outcome and we can’t eat comfortably without it.

After years of trying almost every diet under the sun, I’m finally content with a moderate approach that is tailored to me based on my lifestyle, preferences, and activity levels.

Opening my mind to scientific evidence was tremendously helpful in getting me here.

Dietary dogma served me in the opposite way.

Science and evidence-based nutrition is only a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to developing a healthy relationship with food, but it’s an important one.

And it’s a great way to start embracing the concept that food is just: food!

Stop Acting Like This Is a Dress Rehearsal & Heal Your Relationship with Food Now!

Do you find yourself saying you want to change something in your life, but when push comes to shove, you find that you don’t really want it badly enough?

IMG_0647.JPG

This is true of everyone, and it benefits us to be completely honest with ourselves about our priorities and what we’re willing to sacrifice. Self-awareness is key, here.

Many of us have also experienced being more invested in someone else making a change for themselves than they are!  It has been through these experiences—rather than my own bullshit (which is still alive and well)—that I’ve come to accept:

None of us are going to make a change until we really want to.

We’re averse to change, as our misery often becomes our standard mode of operation—our comfort zone.

We’d rather dance with the devil we know than the one we don’t.

These are all normal human responses to making changes—all born out of our monkey minds/egos, I’d argue.

Said another way, our brains will default to the “easy” road automatically, so we have to make a concerted effort to act from a higher place. To act from a place of consciousness, not fear.

When we make this shift from living in our monkey minds—where our brains are swirling with excuses and projecting fear onto the future—to a more conscious state of awareness, we’re able to understand that our fear-based thinking is keeping us small and comfortable.  

We begin to make choices based on deeply rooted values, growth, and the possibility of our future selves, and we become keenly aware that this isn’t a dress rehearsal. And we can’t afford to live our lives as such.

If you’re deep in the cycle of yo-yo dieting, neurotic food behaviors, lacking self-trust around food, or excessive exercise, you may or may not realize that life is passing you by.

While it’s tempting to stay rooted in these behaviors due to fear of the unknown, I recommend asking yourself if the costs outweigh the benefits (if there still are any).

Is it worth it to continue playing out the same patterns and miss out on experiencing everything life has to offer in this limited time we’ve been given?

Obsession with food and our bodies isn’t something to take lightly, as it can consume our entire being and fill every crevice of our brains.

The stakes are HIGH here.

The patterns you’ve become accustomed to will always be waiting for you if you decide that a new way isn’t worth it.

If you decide that the discomfort of growth and expansion outweighs the misery of your comfort zone.

I know the feeling of wanting to stay wrapped up in my comfort zone all too well, and the reality is that we can’t prioritize everything. We aren’t going to change the things we don’t really want to change.

My only ask is that you consider the gravity of the situation when it comes to giving up so much of your life to controlling food and your body.

This isn’t a matter of learning a new hobby or saving for new pair of boots—priorities that can understandably fall to the wayside for more pressing matters, I’d argue.

Our relationship with food is a major part of the foundation on which we live our lives, so we really can’t afford to wait.

We can’t afford to say “one day” and hope for things to magically feel comfortable enough to finally make a change.

Today is all we have, and I hope this serves as a reminder that we need to act like it (myself included).

Binge Eating - What's Really Causing Yours?

Binge eating is a common struggle for many, but the root cause isn’t always the same.

It can be caused by physiological or emotional factors, but it’s often a combination of both.

F46F86CC-D40B-43C9-883A-2060554EF9F3.JPG

Physiological Drivers

Excessive dieting and restriction, via overall caloric density or a specific macronutrient, can lead to the body’s physiological response to counter this deprivation—bingeing.

As we know, our bodies are smart, and they’re going to find a way to get what they need to survive. We tend to resent this quality and perceive our bodies as the enemy, but this is a gift! We literally wouldn’t be here today without this.

Furthermore, restriction elicits a mental battle.

This often comes back to the discussion about Moderators vs. Abstainers—those who can enjoy all foods without going off the rails, and those who believe they have to follow strict rules or they’ll go off the deep end (i.e. binge).

I have witnessed many self-proclaimed Abstainers—even those with very addictive personalities—become Moderators by simply easing up on their rules and restrictive behaviors.

With a newly developed self-trust and relaxation around food, the urge to binge on “bad” foods lessens significantly.

As someone who formerly subscribed to the label of Abstainer, I can attest to this personally as well.

If you’re struggling with binge eating, and you believe it’s due to excessive restriction, slowly add more foods into your diet. This might be overall food quantity (i.e. calories), a specific macronutrient (i.e. carbs), or allowing yourself to enjoy more processed or “bad” foods.

I completely understand the fear this process invokes if you’re in this situation.  

Leveraging a coach can be extremely helpful, and commitment is essential. You may find yourself continuing to binge throughout the healing process, so it will be tempting to throw in the towel and accept that you’re destined to live a life of deprivation and bingeing.

I promise this urge will dissipate as you get more wins under your belt and your confidence grows. It’s a practice, just like anything else.

Emotional Drivers

The emotional component can be more complex, as there are often several factors at play, but it’s often driven by the need to fill a void or to serve as a distraction for something deeper.

  • Loneliness and lack of deep connection in relationships.

  • Feeling trapped in a relationship that’s no longer serving us.

  • Lacking inspiration in our careers and/or being on a career path that stifles our souls.

  • Pretending to be someone we’re not in front of others due to a lack of acceptance of ourselves or fear of the outcome.

  • Not speaking our minds or setting boundaries with others, so we’re left feeling like shells of our true selves.

  • Making choices in life rooted in fear.

  • Not trusting our intuition.

  • And the list goes on.

There is no shortage of reasons why we use food to circumvent addressing a deeper concern.  

We’ve become so accustomed to deflecting our emotions and believing that anything that resembles discomfort or pain doesn’t have a seat at the table.

That happiness and exhilaration are the only acceptable ways to show up in the world.

As a result, we use food to numb these feelings rather than address them—similarly to using drugs, alcohol, attention, or shopping.

Furthermore, many of us may find ourselves living our lives from a place of fear. 

  • Fear of being unlovable if we show our true selves.

  • Fear of failure if we decide to quit the jobs we hate and try something new.

  • Fear of saying something that may upset someone else.

  • Fear of rejection if we make the first move.

This fear leads to playing small, becoming condensed versions of our true selves, and living lives that are completely unfulfilling.

Eventually, discontentment becomes our standard mode of operation.

This discontentment leads us to self-medication via food, as we believe this to be our only “escape” from our misery. For some, it’s the only source of happiness experienced throughout the day.

As I noted previously, you can apply this concept to some of society’s more widely accepted forms of distraction and superficial medication—booze, drugs, sex, attention from others, gambling, shopping—as they provide a quick hit of exhilaration that distracts us from everything else.

The same level of understanding and acceptance is not usually applied to food.

There are additional layers of complexity with food, too.

We HAVE to eat to survive—there’s no getting around this fact. We can go “cold turkey” with the others, but we have to engage with food on a regular basis.

Additionally, in most Western cultures and societies, food is widely available, making it incredibly difficult to avoid. If food is a person’s “drug of choice”, they’re fighting an uphill battle right out of the gate.

These challenges don’t mean it’s impossible to overcome them, but I do believe they (hopefully) foster additional understanding for those using food as a coping mechanism.  It’s complicated.

What To Do

As we can see, the emotional layers associated with food run deep for many, so the healing or unraveling process is equally as nuanced. There’s no “one size fits all” approach.

However, every single person benefits from introspection, honesty with themselves, and a willingness to address the root cause. 

1.     Introspection—meditation and journaling are widely available to almost everyone, so this is a great place to start. Dedicate yourself to becoming familiar with your internal landscape to better confront and understand what’s going on beneath the hood.

2.     Honesty—when following Step 1 above, you may find yourself wanting to justify or neglect whatever bubbles to the surface. This is common! And very understandable. However, it doesn’t serve any of us in the long-run. Commit to being radically honest with yourself, but ensure you’re being equally as compassionate with yourself too.

3.     Address the Root Cause—it might take several iterations of the first two steps to arrive at the root cause, or there may be several (which is common). The awareness itself is a huge help, but action also needs to be taken to address it (them). Don’t let yourself off the hook by telling yourself, “I don’t know how or what to change though”, or some other fear-based narrative. The faster you begin to take action, the faster you’ll uncover what does or doesn’t work for you!

Binge eating isn’t a surface level issue, and it certainly isn’t one derived from a lack of willpower.

The causes are layered and nuanced, so the remedy is equally so.

The introspective path may not sound as sexy as a cookie-cutter program that promises to teach you how to finally stick to its diet rules, but it’s the only way to experience lasting change that will actually improve—not only your relationship with food—but the way you interact with life, too. 

How Would Life Be Different With The Dream Body?

6A8B699F-3FC5-48F4-97D0-58047DC1B0E2.JPG

I used to spend all of my time and energy thinking about food, exercise, and how amazing I would feel when I finally achieved my ideal, dream body.

I imagined that:

  • I’d finally wear the clothes I believed were only reserved for those with abs.

  • I’d confidently walk around in a bikini and shorts.

  • I would develop a slew of hobbies, like rock climbing, wakeboarding, backpacking, painting, or photography.

  • I would spend my weekends fully enjoying social activities, where I wasn’t constantly fearful of the tempting food and drinks that would be present.

  • I would feel confident with the guys I liked. In fact, I would feel confident all the time.

  • I would be able to eat foods that weren’t on my “good” list without stress and without going off the deep end—making myself sick.

  • I would spend my time learning about something other than nutrition and fitness.

  • I would finally be free to start living.

As the years ticked by, and I eventually became sick of my own internal dialogue and lifestyle, I saw a glimmer of what my life could look like if I didn’t spend all of my time and energy on food and my body.

I asked myself if I could really become the woman I envisioned—with the life I dreamt about for myself—despite not having the body I had been hustling for.

Was it possible?

Of course! Logically, we know this to be true. 

My list above may look differently than yours, but we can look at each one of those items and understand that none of them are dependent on the appearance of my body.

Not one.

And the same is true for your list.

Rather, each one is fully dependent on our mindsets and the actions we employ in tandem.

Upon reflection, it dawned on me that I had been playing the victim for almost a decade. I had convinced myself that I needed permission by way of my appearance to live the life I envisioned for myself.  

A clever way of playing small and keeping myself safe, no? 

I see this ALL the time with clients and friends alike, too. Waiting until everything about ourselves is “perfect” before we make the leap. Before we step outside of our comfort zones and go after the things we want in life.

This all comes back to a lack of belief in ourselves.

Rather than focusing on developing our own self-worth, we outsource this to others.

We believe that we need the permission of others (friends, family, society at large) to go after what we truly want and that our bodies hold the ticket to what we’re really seeking.

I call bullshit.

Everything we want is available to us RIGHT NOW. But we have to be bold enough to prove this to be true. 

  • By wearing the clothes we don’t believe we’re worthy of wearing yet.

  • By putting on the bikini and shorts and realizing that—we’re still alive and well.

  • By signing up for the hobbies and saying “yes” to the next opportunity.

  • By attending the social events and giving ourselves permission to simply be present without overanalyzing our food and beverage choices.

  • By developing confidence in ourselves on a deep, internal level, which is the only form of true confidence anyways.

  • By slowly adding in foods we’ve been avoiding and fearful of and developing trust in ourselves around them.

  • By reading the books, watching the movies, and reading the articles that have nothing to do with nutrition and fitness.

These things take time, to be sure, and you’ll likely feel like an imposter at first. We don’t reframe our narratives and belief systems overnight. 

However, all we need is one win—just one—that proves our stories to be false. To prove that everything we long for can be ours, regardless of our appearance.

If this sounds like a lot of work—it is. There’s no way around it.

But time is going to pass regardless, and if you’ve been caught up in the same patterns for years with no change in outcome, then I’d argue that the work is absolutely worth it.

Your dream life actually depends on it (not your body).