How to tell yourself a better story
I love how the universe has a way of reminding me I'm ever a work in progress.
This Thursday, I am again involved with Natural Ltd's Healthy Headspace seminar series. It's a series of workshops where we examine our often complex relationship with food, eating and exercise, and find healthy strategies that suit each individual.
It's work I am passionate about, knowing all too well how easy it can be to get trapped in crazy diet cycles, to lose hope and motivation, to use food in ways that don't serve us: as comfort, as reward, even as punishment. But, I also know there are ways to break free of those things with the right tools.
I was reminded this weekend, however, that it still takes vigilance to stop old, unhelpful habits from resurfacing.
A bit of background: I've eaten a mainly gluten-free, low-sugar diet for the past three years and feel so much better for it. Wheat and sugar make my head fuzzy and zap my energy levels. It was a bit of an adjustment at first, but has since become second nature.
So why then, did I eat a plate of sugary, shortbread cookies on Saturday night? Cookies I didn't want or even enjoy?
The context: We were out at dinner. I hadn't mentioned my gluten intolerance, just chosen accordingly. A lovely meal, I was quite full and waved off the possibility of dessert. The server brought over a plate of cookies instead. My thought process: “What a kind offer. It would be so impolite to rebuff that and what a waste of food if we don't eat them.”
My partner didn't want them, so I ate them. I ate something I didn't like, that would make me feel lousy, so that I wouldn't hurt anyone's feelings — and because there are children starving in Africa.
Reality check: will the restaurant staff really be offended if I leave the biscuits (or even notice)? Either way, is their happiness more important than my wellbeing? Will any hungry person benefit from my eating/not eating these biscuits?
When we're stuck in our “stories”, reality doesn't factor in.
We all tell ourselves stories. These paradigms we live by — usually things we heard or witnessed long ago: it's important to be polite, other people's feelings come first, good girls/boys eat everything on their plates, you should be so lucky to have food.
These stories become our beliefs and we follow them religiously. We eat things because it's part of our culture, that's how it's done, because that's breakfast food, because I deserve it and — one of my favourites: I've worked hard so I deserve (some saturated fat to clog my arteries, some carcinogenic food dyes and a dose of pancreas-exhausting white sugar) a processed baked good. It's a treat. What a story!
We don't just tell ourselves stories about food. Our stories prompt most of our behaviours across life. Some stories support us, others hold us back. How helpful it is to look at your stories, see how they are working for you and, where necessary, rewrite them. Yes, you can do that.
Sound familiar? If you have food-related stories to rewrite, come join me for Healthy Headspace — sign up on natural.bm.
Otherwise, perhaps some coaching can help you identify and adjust the unhelpful stories you are telling yourself.
Take charge and author your own happy endings!
Julia Pitt is a trained success coach and certified NLP practitioner on the team at Benedict Associates. For further information contact Julia on 705-7488, www.juliapittcoach ing.com.