5 Signs You’re Afraid to Eat Mindfully

5 Signs You’re Afraid to Eat Mindfully

The journey towards mindful eating mastery is fairly simple.

It’s based on the idea that you learn to eat as nature intended.

By forming an in-tune relationship with your mind and body so you can eat healthfully, while still enjoying indulgences from time to time.

In other words, it’s when eating feels really, really easy. 

You’re able to genuinely enjoy foods while also obtaining the results you want with your body.

Doesn’t sound too shabby, right?

The good news is that this process is fairly simple.

I take my clients through a no-frills methodology to get them this result for themselves.

So, why can’t everyone do this effortlessly?

What goes wrong?

It’s because many women (including those I work with) have massive amounts of food fear.

They’re afraid to eat mindfully.

Where Food Fear Comes From

Almost every dieter who seeks my help has an underlying fear of food freedom.

Meaning, they have their walls up when it comes to eating whatever they want.

For them, to allow themselves to eat mindfully sparks up feelings of distrust. 

They think they’ll fall off the deep end if they aren’t forced to eat healthy under restrictive rules.

And who can blame them?

Diet culture has taught us that we need to follow restrictive eating patterns to get the body we want.

We’re not conditioned to believe as a society that eating can be easy!

And the truth is, to truly master mindful eating, where eating healthy becomes effortless…

…you’ll need to release any food fear and give yourself permission to eat whatever you like. 

Now, this isn’t to say that you lose all inhibitions and start eating everything in sight unconsciously.

It means, you legalize food in its entirety. 

By giving up the power that food has over you.

You kick the black and white thinking to the curb.

Where you no longer identify foods as good or bad.

Healthy or unhealthy. 

Right or wrong.

Food just is. 

5 Signs of Food Fear

There are clear indicators as to whether a person is afraid to eat mindfully.

And to trust their bodies to tell them what to eat.

This is when they’re afraid to let go of the reins and “lose control” with food.

Here are common fears that are reflective of food fear.

1) “I Don’t Trust Myself”

This is a common fear that gets to the core of the issue at hand.

The person with this fear doesn’t have faith that the process of eating mindfully will work for them.

They think if they lose control that they’ll end up in a worse place than before.

And this fear paralyzes them.

The truth is, when you lack trust in your body to tell you what she needs to eat, you lack the ability to eat mindfully.

Once again, this isn’t the fault of the women I work with.

They’ve been raised with the diet mentality their whole lives!

They have the mindset that food or their bodies can’t be trusted when it comes to making healthy choices.

And having a trusting relationship with one’s body is the most pivotal step to eating mindfully and forming effortless healthy eating habits.

2) “I’ll Never Stop Eating”

Another common fear that rears its ugly head when beginning the mindful eating process.

When we’re under a diet mentality, we are trained to believe that certain foods are “good” or “bad”.

Which turns the act of eating into a moral dilemma.

If we eat healthy foods we give ourselves a pat on the back.

If we indulge in something unhealthy, we feel a shame and a lack of trust in ourselves.

Which gives us the impression that certain foods are forbidden.

And when anything is forbidden, we crave it more. 

Which is why, if you’ve ever restricted food, you might find yourself having a binge episode with the forbidden food item.

This gives you the impression that when you allow yourself to have the “forbidden foods” that you’ll never stop eating them.

It’s not your body that you need to distrust.

It’s the restrictive dieting process that gives you feelings of deprivation that cause you to overeat.

3) “I’m Addicted to [Blank]”

As humans we want to believe what we think about ourselves.

It’s the way our brains are designed.

This is called a “self-fulfilling prophecy”. 

No matter how negative our assumptions are about ourselves, our brains desire to be proven right about them.

Which means, when you continue to believe fear-based thoughts such as, “I’m addicted to sweets”, “I eat too many carbs”, or “sugar causes me to overeat”, you will prove these thoughts true through your actions.

When you let your thoughts run on autopilot, your eating actions will as well.

It’s crucial that we’re intentional about the thoughts we’re thinking about food.

4) “I’ll Only Eat Unhealthy Foods”

As mentioned, the diet mentality will cause you to believe that when you eat “forbidden foods”, you’ll never be able to stop.

And no wonder we think this!

When you’ve placed restrictive food rules on yourself for so long, of course you think you’ll want to eat those forbidden foods for the rest of your life.

Because you’ve been depriving yourself of them.

And, sure, you will likely crave some of those indulgences when you first give yourself permission to eat.

But, over time you will cultivate a trusting relationship with your mind and body by releasing food fear.

And you will begin to crave more nutritious, healthy food options over time.

5) “That Won’t Work For Me”

It’s not uncommon for women to believe that the mindful eating process “just won’t work for them”.

They believe they’re too far gone with their unhealthy eating patterns.

That when they gave themselves permission to eat anything,  they only ended up in a worse place than before. 

The reason why these women failed to eat mindfully long-term isn’t because they gave themselves permission to eat.

It’s because they didn’t really give themselves permission.

They gave themselves permission to eat, without first fixing their eating mindset.

The restrictive dieting mentality still controlled the situation.

Which means they still had feelings of guilt and remorse when they ate foods that they deemed as unhealthy.

If the diet mentality isn’t handled first, you will always continue to pick up healthy eating habits and put them right back down.

Reaching Food Freedom Mastery

You know you’ve mastered the mindful eating process when food no longer has power over you.

In fact, the women I work with barely think about food by the end of our time together.

They’ve developed such a trusting relationship with their bodies that they don’t feel the need to obsess over their next meal.

Or rely on a diet program to tell them what to eat.

They gain the results they want with their bodies by giving themselves permission to eat whatever they want at any given moment.

And not in an unconscious manner, but with pure intention and love for their bodies.

They’ve achieved real food freedom.

Sounds pretty sweet, right? 

Well, it’s possible for you.

If you’re deep in the food fear trenches, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.

Almost every woman has experienced this at one time or another.

The good news?

No matter how much food fear you’ve packed on over the years, you’re always capable of healing your relationship with food and body.

So, you can eat healthy effortlessly and gain the results you want.

How to Tell If You’re Dieting in Disguise

How to Tell If You’re Dieting in Disguise

If you’re like most women, you’ve attempted at least one diet in your lifetime.

Meaning, you’ve placed restrictive food rules on yourself in hopes of losing weight.

Only to realize that those food rules weren’t sustainable in the long-term.

As a result,  you may have decided to give up dieting once and for all.

So, you embark on your eating journey ready to finally eat in a way that provides lasting results with your body.

Months later, you come to realize that nothing has changed.

You still see yourself picking up healthy eating habits and putting them back down.

Does this sound familiar?

If so, it’s possible you may be dieting in disguise.

Unconscious Dieting

Unconscious dieting or “dieting in disguise” is when a woman isn’t following a set diet, but still operates under a diet mentality.

And operating under a diet mentality will lead to the same negative results.

Which is poor body image, distrust with food, and restrictive eating habits.

The reason for this?

Because dieting thoughts produce dieting results.

We live in a culture that glorifies diet-like tendencies.

In terms of eating healthy, our society lives in an all-or-nothing mindset.

Where we glorify willpower, staying “on track”, and sticking to set food rules.

We eat healthy as a means of losing weight and gaining external results.

Not as a way to genuinely care for and nourish our bodies.

A toxic diet mentality is all around us. 

It’s being perpetuated in ways we can’t even begin to realize.

Because of this, many women who “ditch the diet” actually don’t make progress.

They fall into other unconscious dieting behaviors over time.

Because they still operate under this diet mentality.

Examples of Unconscious Dieting

There are a million examples of dieting in disguise that you’re possibly partaking in.

Which means you’re still operating in the same judgemental, restrictive mindset with food that dieting put you in.

Let’s explore a few examples here so you can better understand what this looks like:

Eating Based Off What You “Deserve”

You decide to eat (or not eat) something based off of what you’ve eaten earlier in the day.

Or by how much you’ve exercised.

You pay no attention to your bodies’ internal signals that are telling you what food it needs to feel healthiest.

You base your eating decisions on guilt, low self-worth, and judgement instead.

Assigning Diet Labels to Lose Weight

This is when you place a dieting label on yourself as a means to an end (vegetarian, keto, vegan, gluten-free, etc).

You don’t assign yourself food rules because of intentions to be healthy.

You do it in hopes that it will accelerate the pounds lost.

Which, in turn, only places more food rules onto your lifestyle that aren’t sustainable long-term.

You Punish Yourself for Eating “Unhealthy”

When you indulge in food items you deem as unhealthy, so you sacrifice something in your next meal.

This can look like eating less than you desire or skipping a meal in the future.

This can also look like adding more exercise so you can “burn off” what you just ate.

Classifying Food Items as “Unsafe”

You ban certain food items out of your life since you think you can’t be trusted to eat them in healthy amounts.

This can look like not eating foods with a certain number of calories, amount of carbs, etc. due to the fear that you’ll overeat them.

This further perpetuates the diet mentality of not having trust in your body and actions with food.

It also rids you of the opportunity to get in tune with your natural hunger signals. 

Tracking Food Metrics

Unless you’re in a place where you’re eating healthy effortlessly and have a loving relationship with your body, you have zero business tracking food or body metrics.

This only further creates judgement and distrust with food.

It also shifts your focus to weight loss as an end-goal.

Which can’t be the case if you want to truly create a loving relationship with food and your body.

Restricting Food

While this may seem obvious, it’s oftentimes not.

If you’re cutting back on food because of an upcoming event or because you “feel fat”, you’re operating in a diet mentality.

This not only gets you out of touch with your natural hunger signals, but also promotes overeating in your future.

How to End Dieting Behavior

The key to ending a diet for good isn’t to just stop the diet…

…it’s to end the dieting thoughts that have likely played on repeat for years.

While this can take some time, it’s actually quite simple. 

The first step is awareness.

Understanding the harm that dieting behavior causes you is crucial.

Think for yourself as to what areas in your life that dieting thoughts have caused you to miss out on. 

This will give you perspective.

The second step is understanding that forcing yourself to stick to strict food rules doesn’t work.

Your brain hates being put into a healthy eating box.

And when you fight against your brain, you will lose every single time.

Don’t do this.

Accept that as much as willpower and obedience around food is glorified…

…it just doesn’t work.

There is another way.

The third step is to get rid of the dieting items in your life.

This includes anything you’re using to track your diet.

Such as the scale, tracking apps, meal plans – all of it. 

This one can be a bit uncomfortable for those deep in the dieting trenches, but trust.

You need to get to a place where you can cultivate a close, nurturing relationship with your body and food.

This can’t be done if you’re trying to micro-manage it with weight loss tools.

The fourth step is to show understanding and compassion for yourself.

Forgive yourself for being in a restrictive, self-sabotaging pattern with food and your body.

Know that the reasons for it happening were understandable, especially given the circumstances of the culture we live in.

If you can learn to call out dieting tendencies and take the steps to branch outside of them, you’ll be well on your way to creating healthy, sustainable eating habits that feel effortless.

Why You Can’t Stick to Strict Food Rules

Why You Can’t Stick to Strict Food Rules

The first question I normally get asked from women I coach is, “how do I eat healthy?”.

This usually leads to me explaining how to cultivate a fine-tuned, loving relationship with food.

Some of these women stop me and say, “Oh, no. I mean, what do I need to eat?”.

I then proceed to tell them that this method of thinking is what’s been preventing them from eating healthy in the first place.

And there’s a clear reason why.

No matter how hard you try, you cannot force yourself to stick to strict food rules.

No meal plan, diet protocol, or weight loss program can tell you exactly what to eat.

Your body and brain are far too complex for that.

And strict food rules aren’t necessary to have the results you want with your body.

Let’s discuss how we got here in the first place.

The Definition of a Diet

First, it’s necessary that we define what a diet actually is.

A diet is any method of eating that has strict food rules written by someone other than yourself.

In other words, it’s trying to fit yourself into a healthy eating box.

That’s it, friends.

Which means, diets are running rampant in our culture.

We have a number of boxes to choose from in order to “eat healthy” and lose weight.

Some of these boxes include keto, vegan, paleo, etc.

Even more boxes are created from weight loss programs telling you to follow strict meal plans to achieve results.

Where it goes wrong, is that these healthy eating boxes require you to depend on willpower.

And willpower is useless for seeing sustainable results.

It’s like holding a beach ball underwater.

You can keep it underwater for quite some time until you let go and it comes bursting through the surface.

It’s impossible to hold on forever.

This is exactly what it’s like when you rely on willpower to stick to strict food rules.

The worst part?

When you fail to stick to these rules, you make it mean something negative about yourself.

Which is when you’ll experience frustration, doubt, anger – all of the emotions that likely caused you to eat unhealthy in the first place.

So, you continously indulge in unhealthy food and gain the weight back.

Leaving you to chase the next fad diet you can get your hands on.

Sound familiar?

This vicious cycle was a part of my life for years.

And there’s a good chance you know how it feels.

But, I promise you.

The reason you’re failing to stick to strict food rules has nothing to do with your self-worth or how capable you are of being healthy.

It has to do with your brain.

Why We Can’t Stick to Strict Food Rules

The truth is, our bodies and brains were never meant to follow strict food rules.

We’re simply not adapted to that nonsense. 

Our bodies were designed to give us hunger signals when it needed to eat.

And fullness signals when it was time to stop eating.

The problem?

Diet culture has perpetuated restrictive eating patterns that have skewed our ability to maintain a close relationship with our body signals.

We’ve lost the ability to clearly communicate with our bodies as it relates to food.

As a result, we think we need diets to tell us how to eat properly.

Since we’ve forgotten how to listen to our bodies so she can tell us what she needs.

The reason that our bodies fail to follow strict food rules?

When you limit the amount of food you’re allowed to eat, your body will enter starvation mode.

Your body doesn’t know the difference between an actual starving person and a dieter.

To your body, they’re one and the same.

Which means, your biological mechanisms will adapt as if it’s trying to save you from starvation.

Your metabolic rates will rapidly decrease, food cravings will increase, your eating will become more ravenous, and you’ll likely experience mood swings.

To most of you, these symptoms will make you feel like your body is “out to get you”. 

When really, your body is trying to save you from starving yourself.

In case you weren’t aware, your body is always operating out of the best intentions.

Additionally, strict rules rules will also cause a psychological response from your brain.

In the same way that your body response from a place of starvation…

…you brain responds from a place of deprivation.

When you deprive yourself of anything, it trains your brain to crave larger amounts of that thing.

Our brain wants more of what it’s not allowed to have.

For instance, if I tell you right now to not think about an elephant…

…what’s the first thing you think of?

When we make an object forbidden, we increase it’s value to our brains.

It becomes special and we heighten our desire for that item.

Which is another huge reason why strict food rules don’t work for us in the long-term.

The allure of eating what we’re not “allowed” to have is too tempting for our primitive brains to handle.

What to Do Instead

If you’re anything like I was, having these realizations can be a bit overwhelming.

Since you now realize that you’ve been working against your brain and body.

The good news?

Your body has been waiting for you to have this realization for yourself!

So you can start working with her to give her what she needs.

In order to cultivate a loving relationship with food and your body, you need to learn to listen.

Start paying attention to what your body is trying to tell you on a daily basis.

At what points in the day does she feel genuinely hungry?

When does she feel satisfied and full during a meal?

Are there moments when you feel called to eat but aren’t actually hungry?

What foods make her feel amazing?

What foods make her feel weighed down that you could do without?

Basically, you want to start asking your body questions.

Cultivate a real relationship with her.

You don’t need strict food rules to tell you how to eat healthy or love your body.

Because the truth is, your body has known the answers all along.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Do You Have a Black and White Eating Mindset?

Do You Have a Black and White Eating Mindset?

Most of the ladies I’ve had the pleasure of working with are ambitious women who are accomplished professionals, mothers, and businesswomen.

Their hard work, drive, and Type-A personalities make them extremely capable of getting the results they want professionally.

These women also tend to be self-proclaimed perfectionists.

They either do a task all the way or not at all.

There is no in-between.

They accept nothing less from themselves than the best.

Which unfortunately, when it comes to eating healthy, can be the difference between eating healthy effortlessly and yo-yo dieting for life.

Most of the time, these women have no idea why they’re failing to eat healthy.

They have no trouble following through with actions in the workplace.

So, what gives?

Why do they have so much trouble eating the “right” way?

It’s because of their inability to accept less than perfection that leaves them picking up healthy eating habits and putting them back down.

Which is caused by black and white thinking.

Let me explain.

What is Black and White Thinking?

This method of thinking, otherwise known as dichotomous thinking, is when you strictly distinguish things as “good” or “bad”.

Which, in turn, leads to black and white behaviors when it comes to food.

You’ll either eat perfectly or “fall off track”.

You’ll consider losing a pound a win, but consider gaining a pound a failure.

You’ll have one bite of unhealthy food, and consider it a loss. So you eat more since you failed anyways.

You restrict yourself at a restaurant or eat everything on the menu.

Basically, you are only given two options when it comes to food: pass or fail.

Sound familiar?

If so, have some compassion for yourself.

This method of thinking is stimulated by the diet culture we were raised in.

We’re led to believe we either follow strict rules perfectly or aren’t worthy of having healthy eating habits.

Following strict food rules is obviously not sustainable or maintainable. 

Which will lead you to hitting rock bottom and punishing yourself with unhealthy foods.

Eventually, you’ll be chasing the next diet you can get your hands on.

Thus, continuing the cycle over and over again.

This is the main reason why black and white thinking is so dangerous.

It keeps us chasing the result of eating healthy.

And leaving us exactly in the same place year after year.

Find the Gray Area

If you’re a woman who struggles with black and white thinking, acknowledge this.

Recognize the patterns and brainstorm how it negatively affects your relationship with food.

Then, make the effort to figure out your “gray area”.

Meaning, let go of the desire to eat perfectly, all of the time.

Give yourself permission to not restrict any foods from your diet.

While also setting the intention that everytime you eat something, it will be an empowered decision.

Give yourself the freedom to eat whatever you want, as long as you like your reason.

Check in with your thought-patterns and make sure they align with your eating choices.

While there’s more excitement and drama to being on the black or white sides of the spectrum, you’ll find that the gray area is where the magic lives.

This is where true trust in your food choices and your body lies.

Which is how you create healthy eating patterns that don’t feel so difficult.

Finding this middle ground is everything.

The Truth About Food Addiction

The Truth About Food Addiction

The concept of food addiction is one that sparks up a lot of debate. 

As a coach, it’s not uncommon for me to hear a woman immediately proclaim that she’s addicted to unhealthy foods.

“I’m just addicted to sugar!”

“I’m just addicted to overeating!”

“I’m just addicted to carbs!”

These are all phrases I hear often.

And while there has been evidence of certain food items activating brain chemicals associated with addiction, the reality behind food addiction isn’t so cut and dry.

The truth is, many people stuck in unhealthy eating patterns love to resort to food addiction.

Since most don’t want to be responsible for their unhealthy eating patterns.

Which is totally natural.

It can be incredibly painful admitting that you have the ability to change, but haven’t yet done so.

However, real food addiction is rarely the case.

What you’re actually experiencing is far less severe. 

The truth is, eating in itself can simply be a rewarding experience for our brains. 

Rather than resorting to “food addiction”, let’s discuss the more common reasons why you likely eat the way you do.

The Reward System of Eating

There are numerous reasons why food is inherently rewarding to our brains.

It’s important we understand what these are, so we can better understand why we eat the way we do.

Rather than constantly resorting to food addiction as the answer.

The main, huge reason why food is so rewarding to our brains? 

Survival.

Our brains are designed to be a reward system.

Meaning to ensure our survival, our brains are designed to increase dopamine levels when we do things to keep us alive – including eating.

When dopamine levels increase, we experience pleasure and motivation.

To add to this, the feeling of hunger actually stimulates higher dopamine levels as well.

Thereby further contributing towards the reward system.

Pretty sweet, right? 

So, now that we know why our brains find reward in eating, where does it go wrong?

Because there’s nothing wrong with our reward system of eating.

It’s that we use the system improperly.

We screw up the system when we lead an unbalanced life.

This is when we rely on food to increase our pleasure in life.

In other words, we depend on eating for our increase in dopamine levels.

And the truth is, there are tons of activities that can increase dopamine levels.

This could be dancing, socializing, exercising, etc.

Chances are, if you’re relying on food for pleasure, you’re skimping on the other aspects of life that could bring you pleasure.

Why Food Addiction Isn’t the Answer

Now that we know how the reward system of eating works, we can now realize that food addiction has little to do with the way we eat.

The truth is, studies on food research are limited.

There’s not much conclusive evidence that yet proves we can so easily be addicted to unhealthy foods.

I mean, I get it.

The concept of foods being addicting sounds more exciting.

There’s more drama associated with this.

However, the reality is, it really comes down to simple brain chemistry.

And how we’re messing up our brain’s natural ability to eat properly.

This might sound complicated, but it’s very simple.

Doing this for yourself requires you to slow down and listen to what your body is telling you.

What food is she telling you makes her feel nourished?

What foods could she do without?

What foods make her happy?

These are all valid questions that will allow you to cultivate a fine-tuned relationship with your brain and body over time.

So, don’t feel the need to stamp a “food addiction” label onto your unhealthy eating habits.

Start listening to your body and take it from there.