“The bond between food and me is like other relationships in my life: complicated, evolving, demanding, and in need of constant work. But together we’ve come so far, moving from my childhood obligation to clean my plate, to a mindless need to fill up, to a truly nourishing and pleasurable exchange. That’s the real reward.”
― Ashley Graham
Many of my clients tell me that they are experiencing obsessive thoughts about food, their weight and their body. Worries around weight loss and what foods they can/shouldn't eat... sometimes completely dominates their lives and stops them from enjoying what they are doing and planning for the future. So what exactly causes these obsessive thoughts about food? There are a few common triggers that I see very often for recurring thoughts around food:
- Severe restriction: obsessive thoughts around food go hand-in-hand with restrictive diets and meal-plans. As humans we want what we can't have and the more you restrict your diet and cut out food groups, the more you will obsess about food (particularly those foods that you have banned). It is a clever evolutionary mechanism to ensure that we don't starve - if our body and brain think that we aren't getting the food that we need, they will make sure that we obsess over food until we get that food.
- Food-tracking: whilst tracking macros and calories works for some people - for many people, it can also cause an obsessive mindset around food. Having to meticulously weigh out and stay conscious of exactly how much you are eating at every meal, can leave you craving more... not necessarily because you actually want more food, but because you know you are not allowed more food. Again it comes down to the fact that we as humans want what we can't have!
- Being physically hungry - now this one might seem like an obvious one but many of my clients will often report that they starve themselves throughout the day, only to over-eat at night. They are physically hungry during the day and by suppressing that hunger, their brain goes into over-drive with thoughts around food.
- Feeling guilty for eating certain foods - often obsessive thoughts around food stem from the relationship that an individual has with food. If they feel guilty when eating "bread" or "carbs" or "sweets" or "dairy" ... or other foods, it can lead to obsessive thoughts around these foods and sometimes even binge-eating on these foods.
Whilst I can completely understand (and would encourage) the desire to be healthy (both mind and body) - many of the people I work with tell me that their days are dominated by thoughts of food, their body and their weight. Thoughts around these things take up most of their mental space - severely affecting their ability to enjoy their day-to-day lives. Even if someone does want to get healthy and lose some weight - obsessive thoughts about food/their body tend to be unhelpful - as they can lead an individual to feel bad about themselves and often drive them to turn to food for comfort. Strangely enough, you are actually much more likely to lose weight once you stop obsessing over food.
A very important part of my treatment plan when working with clients is to free them from obsessive thoughts about food and their body. Think about it - in 30/40 years’ time - will you wish you had spent more time obsessing over those last 2kgs you want to lose and how you can make your thighs/stomach a little smaller? ... or will you wish you had spent more time living life, cherishing moments with loved ones and having fun? Life is too short to waste it obsessing about food, your body and your weight - it is time to set yourself free!
If you would like some help to re-build your relationship with food and to set yourself free from obsessive thoughts around food - you should check out my online course "Free Yourself From The Diet Cage" - www.thefoodtherapyclinic.com/onlinecourse
In this course, you will learn that you do not need to starve yourself or obsess over food in order to lose weight!
“When we give up dieting, we take back something we were often too young to know we had given away: our own voice. Our ability to make decisions about what to eat and when. Our belief in ourselves. Our right to decide what goes into our mouths. Unlike the diets that appear monthly in magazines or the thermal pants that sweat off pounds, unlike a lover or a friend or a car, your body is reliable. It doesn't go away, get lost, stolen. If you will listen, it will speak.” ― Geneen Roth