I’m here to share some compassion and comfort today if you are grieving the elimination of foods you love from your every day food protocol.
If you find yourself thinking longingly about the sight, smell, taste or texture of certain foods, I’m so with you.
I selected this specific photo for today’s blog post on purpose.
Vanilla ice cream drizzled with hot fudge sauce and topped with chopped nuts is my delight. And I still eat it. On occasion. When I’m dining out. But I don’t keep the ingredients in my house. That would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
I plan my favorite “exceptions” at least 24 hours in advance and I enjoy them with gusto. Without recrimination or a barrage of negative self-talk.
I have rewired my brain to shift my thinking about “deserving” sweets and treats.
I used to think that meals ended with dessert. That certain foods, desserts especially, were forms of pleasure, comfort or entertainment. That I “deserved” them because they made me happy or were a reward for toughing out a particularly hard day. That they were essential to my well-being.
Over time, I have revamped my most common, every day thoughts about food, especially sweets and treats, to better serve my weight loss goals. Now it is so much easier for me to focus on food as nourishment. Even as fuel.
I believe that the food I eat impacts the functioning of every cell in my body. All those micro-nutrients are hormonal messengers. I take real comfort in the thought that I choose foods to optimize my body’s ability to function at the top of her game, the intended purpose of food in the first place.
Thoughts like these provide maximum freedom around food for me.
I have largely overwritten the old thought that I need a sweet treat to cap off a delicious meal on a daily basis.
Don’t get me wrong, I still choose to believe that eating is a pleasurable activity. Nothing wrong with that. But it no longer reigns supreme as a primary go-to source to create pleasure in my life. As a matter of fact, it’s way down near the bottom of my list of thoughts I choose to think about food.
Letting go of favorite foods in favor of peace and freedom around them takes brain training.
We all know that in order to lose weight and keep it off for good, we need to make adjustments to our daily food choices and eating schedules. We’ve spent years eating foods we craved whenever we wanted them.
Isn’t that how we ended up with a weight issue in the first place?
We know that, at some pretty fundamental level, we will have to change
But, we don’t have to take a slash and burn approach to our current thoughts about our favorite foods.
We can take a more gentle approach. One that acknowledges our cravings and desires. One that helps us better manage our food grief as we let go of our attachment to these old favorites that aren’t the best for our health.
It’s exhausting to fight the yearnings, the desires, the wishing, the ruminations, the spiraling into cravings. But, it is possible to overcome the food grief we feel when we decide that foods we’ve always loved will no longer be part of our food protocol.
Use this helpful tool to ease the grief you experience when you let go of your favorite foods from your daily diet.
Let it R.A.I.N!
Here’s how Teah Strozer explains it in this publication.
One tool that I’ve found to be extremely helpful for this practice is the acronym RAIN, originally created by the Insight Meditation Society teacher Michele McDonald and more thoroughly discussed by Diana Winston in Wide Awake and Tara Brach in True Refuge.
RAIN is extremely helpful in dealing with the difficult emotions, sensations, and thoughts that bring us suffering as we grieve. Whenever we’re working to rewire our brains with new thoughts, it can feel like we’re caught in the grips of a storm. But just remember, the sun shines brighter after the R.A.I.N.
R = recognize
R stands for recognizing what is happening in this moment. Become the watcher.
Notice what is happening.
Many people are immediately reactive—and worse, they blame a person or a situation outside of themselves for causing their reaction.
Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings around whatever is happening.
Acknowledge that your experience is what it is, even if it’s unpleasant.
Be with it without attempting to change it. Try to have self-compassion instead of self-criticism. Don’t add to the difficulty by being hard on yourself.
A = accept/allow
A stands for accepting.
This does not mean that you wanted the grief you felt in reaction to not eating a food you’ve loved. It doesn’t mean you wanted to feel deprived or think this whole weight loss process is unfair and too hard. It simply means that you acknowledge that these thoughts and feelings are happening.
Name it to recognize it’s presence. For example, “Grief is here.”
Try not to indulge the emotion or thought with further thinking.
Just keep allowing that grief is here without further complicating it with compounding thoughts or emotions like righteousness indignation.
You do not resist or avert or distract yourself from what’s happening.
You simply acknowledge and name what is happening. You are open to whatever is there for you.
I = investigate
I stands for investigating the sensations you’re feeling in your body.
Try to find an attitude of interest, curiosity, and openness. Not detached intellectual analysis but a gently engaged exploration, often with a sense of tenderness or friendliness toward what it finds.
This step is primarily a physical noticing.
What does grief feel like? Does your heart race, do you feel a heaviness in your belly, a tightening in your chest, a headache, heat rising? Label whatever physical sensations you notice as “grief.”
This energetic emotional component has to be willingly and thoroughly felt until the body returns to open relaxation.
You breathe and wait and breathe and feel the body, at first tight and then slowly changing, relaxing and opening, letting go.
Openness to the physical event is what integrates the energy, dissipates it, and—if it is practiced over and over— eventually dissolves it. Realize that the feeling will eventually dissolve if we don’t add more thought or energy to it.
N = not identifying
You are the watcher of your thoughts. You are not your thoughts.
You are merely observing fleeting aspects of your consciousness. The contents of your mind. Allow them to flow by as if you’re watching a scene from a movie.
Eventually identification as “the observer” can drop away as well. But to simply make the shift is a good place to start.
Manage your thoughts and feelings of food grief once and for all.
My It’s Never Too Late Weight Loss Coaching program is structured to help you find peace and freedom around food. Learning how to better manage your thoughts and feelings when you’re hurting will give you the peace and freedom around food you seek.
Isn’t it time that you made use of the free Strategy Call I offer to find out more? Get started today learning how to allow food grief without having to respond to it. This skill set will make weight loss easier than you ever imagined.
Let me know you’re ready to get started right here.
I’m looking forward to meeting you soon.