Guest post by Heather K. Jones, registered dietitian.
If you’ve been struggling with weight and food for a long while, be that years, decades or well, forever, most likely you’ve forgotten just how powerful you truly are. You probably don’t remember that …
You have the power to change your relationship with food and with your body.
You have the power to forgive yourself for whatever happened in the past and to just focus on making healthy changes today.
You have the power to create a nourishing and peaceful relationship with food.
You have the power to take better care of yourself, to stop emotional eating and to lose weight with ease.
In fact, you’re the ONLY person who has control over your body, your eating habits and your life.
But it’s easy to forget just how capable (and worthy and awesome) you really are when you’re trapped in a cycle of struggle, negativity and fear. Trust me, I KNOW.
As a dietitian working in the weight and wellness field for the last 20 years, I’ve seen it all. And as a woman who used to struggle with food and diets (and life in general!), I’ve done it all.
There’s this insane idea in the world of weight loss that if we hate ourselves enough, torture ourselves enough, and shame and guilt ourselves enough, that somehow, we’ll end up happy, thin and confident. It’s crazy… and it’s (obviously!) not the path to happiness.
Please let go of the idea that there is a perfect diet or cleanse that will finally solve your weight problems. Realize that the answer lies within you. You have the power to transform your relationship with food, your hunger, and yourself.
Here Are 7 (Non-Diet!) Steps for Lasting Weight Loss & Wellness…
1. Create an internal support system and refocus your energy
Step number 1 is all about shifting your mindset and building a solid foundation of self-care—which makes a HUGE difference in creating and supporting lasting change. Pay attention to what you think and say about food, weight and your body, and to start consistently choosing supportive thoughts. Nourishing your mind with compassionate and supportive thoughts is just as important as nourishing your body with nutrient-rich whole foods, truly. Also know that by accepting yourself exactly as you are right now, you’re not giving up. You’re empowering yourself to feel good now, so that you can take positive actions towards your goals with confidence.
2. Get your beliefs into alignment with your desires
This step is all about identifying and releasing the underlying issues that sabotage your ability to make a healthy change. This is a game-changer, truly. As you understand and resolve your emotional eating and food issues you’ll gain a real sense of hope and possibility. I share an exercise in my free Feel Better Eat Better Workshop that will help you do exactly this!
3. Understand your hunger and your emotions
Raising your own awareness around your hunger, your eating habits and your emotions—cultivating what I call eating consciousness—makes it so much easier to form a healthy relationship with food and your body. Hunger is the need for food. It’s a physical reaction triggered by low-blood sugar and hormones that is designed to keep the body properly fueled. Appetite, on the other hand, is the desire for food. It’s a conditioned response to food triggered by senses (usually after seeing, smelling, or thinking about something yummy), social situations, or emotions. And it’s super easy to confuse wanting to eat with needing to eat. Try this: The next time you feel the urge to eat, pause and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” It’s not about deciding if you are in fact allowed to eat, it’s about raising your awareness around WHY you want to. By answering this one simple question you’ll empower yourself to make a conscious eating choice. And that is a very big deal! You’ll not only drastically cut back on mindless and superfluous eating, you’ll also start to unravel your emotional connections to food. And that leads me to step 4…
4. Get your emotional needs met without food
Eating is a seductive distraction that immediately soothes negative feelings, and certain foods (sugar and carbs in particular) trigger a release of feel-good chemicals in the brain. But as you know, the relief found in food is only temporary. Get curious about your emotional connections to food—because if your food craving doesn’t come from physical hunger, then you can be sure that eating is not going to satisfy it. Honor and allow your emotions (sign up for my free workshop here to find out how) instead of ignoring them or burying them with food.
5. Connect with your intuition and trust your body
This step is all about building a healthy and a trusting relationship with your body and connecting to your own inner wisdom. There’s BIG difference between eating to shrink your body and eating to nourish your body. A part of nourishing yourself from a place of love is listening to your body and noticing how it feels and reacts to your food choices. Start to make connections by tuning in to how different foods affect your mood, energy levels, and cravings, and pay attention to how your body feels when you eat (or don’t eat) certain foods. And from this more intuitive place, make food choices that honor your health, your hunger, and your taste buds.
6. Take inspired and consistent action
This step is all about creating positive and feel-good momentum in your life so that you are inspired and you want to take actions that align with your desires. And this is VERY different than trying to use willpower to push yourself to take actions that you think you “should” take. For example, stop torturing yourself with exercises you despise. Find ways to move that feel good to you… make movement fun and enjoyable!
7. Stop trying to fix yourself
Most of us have a complicated relationship with food and our bodies. And what happens is that years of struggling can leave us feeling helpless, hopeless and broken. Please remember: You are not broken and you do not need fixing! Stop trying to fix yourself and start trying to love yourself. Ending the battle with weight is all about starting a healing relationship with yourself, and my free Feel Better Eat Better Workshop will help you do exactly that.
About Heather K. Jones
Heather K. Jones, R.D. is a registered dietitian, a health journalist and a wellness coach. Specializing in nutrition communication and behavior change therapy, Heather has spent the last 20 years empowering people who struggle with body and food issues.
She is the creator of Feel Better Eat Better, an online program for women who struggle with emotional eating, binge eating, overeating or body image issues, the Skinnytaste dietitian, and the co-author of the New York Times best-selling books, The Skinnytaste Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2014), Skinnytaste Fast & Slow (Clarkson Potter, 2016), and Skinnytaste One & Done (Clarkson Potter 2018).
Heather has had hundreds of articles published in healthy-living magazines, including SELF, Fitness, Redbook and more, and she has written and contributed to numerous health books including The Salt Solution (Rodale, 2011), Drop 5 lbs (Hearst, 2010), The Life You Want (Simon & Schuster, 2010), What’s Your Diet Type? (Hatherleigh Press, 2009), The Best Life Cookbook (Simon & Schuster, 2008), and Restaurant Confidential (Workman, 2002).
She also spent seven years working for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and its award-winning newsletter, Nutrition Action Healthletter, and five years working as a nutrition consultant for The Best Life, a program by Bob Greene, Oprah’s personal trainer.