Jacqueline Hurst is an experienced therapist and ground-breaking life coach who specialises in treating those struggling with body image. Here she shares her top tips about solving the difficult relationship with food.
Ultimately if we have a healthy body image, we will eat normally, feel good and take extra care of our health. If we don’t have a healthy body image we are likely to be eating emotionally or in some form of diet disaster.
Struggling with body image is not uncommon and I teach people that this can be changed by the way you think, instead of trying to change your body! If you can’t change your thoughts you are pretty stuck. Change the way you think and the results will follow.
So, if you are struggling with your relationship with food or body image in any way here are some top tips of how to calm it down and begin to be kind to yourself.
Allow yourself anything and everything. Allow yourself to let go, to eat and to stop any sort of diet mentality that has ruled your life and not given you the results you want. This can be scary and liberating. The first few weeks might be a little crazy, you might well be eating a few croissants for breakfast but trust me, after a few weeks of full allowance something strange will happen. You will find that you don’t actually want ice cream after dinner every single night anymore. Or even that amount of it. Once your brain understands food is allowed, you will find yourself actually craving food to feed and nourish you, food that could maybe even love you back, food that doesn’t hurt you. You will find you are going for food that feels good to you because that’s what you want, not what you think you ‘should’ have. You will start to look at food differently and find a peace you only wished you could have before. Dinners out don’t freak you out anymore and breakfast meetings become a non-issue. Peace comes from allowance.
The next thing to do, whilst going through allowance is to totally remove the judgement you might be placing so harshly on yourself. That no matter what happens, judging yourself will take you away from your goal of freedom. Being kind to yourself will help you understand yourself and learn lessons to help you grow. Nothing bad will happen if you eat a little crazy at the start and I promise you it will be OK. You won’t go up 15 dress sizes and your friends wont suddenly stop talking to you. Treating yourself with the love and respect in the way you would do a best friend is the kindest way to learn how to change your relationship with yourself as you go through allowance. It’s fascinating. When you judge yourself you are missing vital lessons. As James says, be kind to yourself. Always.
Your body actually speaks to you throughout the day. Usually we do not care to listen or are so wrapped up in diet mentality that we are totally disconnected from ourselves and can’t hear it. A diet sheet does not know more about your hunger and fullness than you do. Trust me you are not a one size fits all. Because diets ultimately disconnect you from you, they never work. Just as James says, the best expert on your body is you. Diets are based on restriction and are created so you fail….to go back on them again, it an industry so it is there to make money. When you start listening, like really, really listening, your body speaks. Your body is telling you when you are hungry and it will tell you when you are full. In the beginning you may just know when you are starving or stuffed and that’s ok too. Give it time and learn to re-connect. You heard your body when you were a child and trust me, it’s still all there – all you have to do is listen.
Ask yourself ‘why’ A LOT. If you have a moment of being full but really, really, really want to eat the whole bag of chips ask yourself “why?”. Why do you want it, what is really going on? If it isn’t about hunger something else has to be going on. Dig deep. It might end up with something like ‘my mum is really annoying me’ or ‘I feel stressed in my job’ or other understandable difficult situations. When you can learn to work out what is actually going on emotionally, the chips don’t look so exciting anymore. Realising that the only thing food can really solve, is hunger, is one of the most liberating things to understand. It can’t solve fear, anxiety or sadness. There are many other ways to handle feelings and you always have a choice.
You can see my article live here