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Befriending Your Desire To Overeat

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If you're thinking 'what on earth is she on about now' -- you're probably not alone! In fact, you can definitely be forgiven for thinking I'm bonkers, because most people who battle with their weight, their body and food, are so used to the fight, they can't conceptualise 'befriending' their desire to overeat.

What does 'befriending' mean?

  • becoming curious about your desire to overeat
  • being kind to yourself when you're overeating
  • welcoming your desire to overeat

'Befriending' does not mean:

  • hating your desire for more food than you need
  • hating yourself for desiring or eating more food than you need
  • being closed off to your desire to overeat

So why is 'befriending' important?

  • Because curiosity can lead you somewhere! When you're curious about something, you want to find out about it: where it is from; what language it speaks; why it wants to visit you; and what it is doing here.
  • Because being kind to yourself enables you to learn something useful. If you're hating yourself, you're so busy expending your mental energy on that unhelpful pursuit, that you're not open to finding out anything that might actually be useful. Don't you find when you're hating yourself you're closed off to all sorts of experiences and opportunities? Apart from anything else, it's pretty miserable to live with self-loathing.
  • Because hating your eating behaviour and hating yourself for it, hasn't got you very far in the past, so why not try a kinder, more gentle approach instead -- one that may actually lead you to where you want to go?

How to 'befriend' your desire to overeat

1. Take a breath

Next time you notice the desire to overeat, instead of the habitual ugh-not-again-white-knuckling-head-down posture, take a breath. Actually, take 3 long, slow ones. Did you know that long, slow breaths signal to the brain that you're safe and there's nothing to worry about? If you do this, you will stimulate the relaxation response, which is always helpful (unless of course you're fleeing from a predator). If you think about it, when you're befriending someone, there's an absence of fear:

[Tweet "relaxation and fear can't co-exist in the same moment."]

So breathing to relax, cultivates an atmosphere of befriending.

2. Welcome your desire

This is probably going to sound crazy -- I mean why on earth would you welcome it in? Because pushing it away doesn't teach you anything. It just keeps you in a fearful state. And that's just unpleasant, to say the least! When you welcome your desire, you're giving yourself the message that there's nothing to fear. Welcoming in sets the tone for curiosity.

3. Become curious

Ask your desire questions (in the friendliest tone!). This is very interesting when done with your non-dominant hand:

  • Hi, my name's [insert your name], what's yours?
  • I'd love to know more about you. How old are you?
  • How long are you planning on staying, this visit?
  • Can I ask why you're here?
  • Is there something you want me to know?
  • Is there anything I can do to help you?
  • Allow yourself to have a conversation with your desire to overeat -- responding to its answers with deepening questions, if they reveal themselves to you.

4. Be kind

Kindness is an underrated quality when it comes to learning and I have a few first hand examples of seeing this in action:

  • Watching my daughters go through school, the teachers they've worked hardest for, and felt the most inspired by, are the kind ones.

  • When we first took Queenie for obedience training, our trainer's approach was based on kindness: the behaviour we wanted Queenie to repeat was praised and rewarded, and her unwanted behaviours were ignored as much as possible, unless they were dangerous (which was impossible for a Toy Poodle!).

  • I've seen how kindness has helped me and my clients on the journey towards Peaceful Eating. When we're being kind to ourselves, we're just so much more open to learning and understanding; so much more accepting of where we are; and so much more willing to gently take the next step.
  • So, are you convinced? Will you give this a go? I'd absolutely LOVE to know what you discover about your desire to overeat -- what does it have to teach you about yourself? Let me know - in the comments.