Your secret weapon against eating (when you really shouldn’t)

Shame culture does our eating no favours. If you agree, ‘like’ my Youtube animation to help me win a scholarship

Icecream vicecream

Icecream vicecream. Laura Eades 2014

I’ve gone all out and drawn an animation to try to win a scholarship to train as an eating psychology coach.

Far from diets and eating plans, this training is about changing how we eat to revitalise our metabolism.

Coaching, of course, plus how the brain’s chemistry is affected by stress, lack of pleasure, lack of oxygen, limiting thinking, and more.

Let me give you an example of how complex eating is.

Which flavour vice?

Berlin has amazing icecream shops on every street corner. Heaven. But I’m ashamed to say I know which flavour’s best at every shop.

If I put my crying baby in a sling and walk, she’ll fall asleep (that’s the excuse) and I can eat icecream as I walk. If I walk here, blackcurrant and yoghurt; there, lime and fresh mint; far for wasabi and beetroot; yonder for dark chocolate or chunky stracciatella.

Why is it a problem?

“A little of what you fancy does you good”, you say. And I agree. About the pleasure part. BUT SINCE WHEN HAVE I EVER FOUND MODERATION STRAIGHTFORWARD?

As if my daily one-scoop wasn’t enough, I now ask for two scoops as standard. Sometimes I have one then go back for a second. And I do it in secret, like slipping out for a cigarette. Typical of me to ruin something I love with excess.

Now the shame is getting to me. Repeated guilt, that turns into a negative opinion of myself.

Now my waistline tells the tale of my pregnancy, so icecream is not the remedy.

Shame on me

I’m thinking about what you’ll think of me. You’ll think I’m stupid because I should know it’s bad for me. We are taught that some food is ‘bad’; that eating ‘bad’ food comes from ignorance, weakness and greed. We think it’s simple to solve.

Perversity is not simple

I tell myself that I’m a not-strong-enough person, and then I eat more icecream to take the painful edge off the feeling of being not-good-enough. So not only is that shame actually perpetuating my destructive behaviour, but it’s also based on the overly simplistic idea that all we need to do is know what’s good for us and then follow the rules. Ha! Well, psychology doesn’t work like that.

nb to ‘like’ the above video, visit the animation’s YouTube page here

What makes us eat when we know we shouldn’t?

Here are the causes I see of my icecreaming:

  1. Habits – There’s a strongly repetitious element to my icecreaming. I’d better be more flexible, vary my walk to some non-icecream-shop routes, order flavours I’m not mad about, forego the cone, break it up a bit. Underlying cause: Habits make us feel comfortable and in control
  2. Emotions – We might use food for what Brene Brown calls ‘numbing’ and ‘taking the edge off’ emotions that make us feel vulnerable. All those difficult emotions like lonliness and sadness and anger and shame, sure. But the illuminating thing about her research is that we also numb the highs. So also including, unfortunately, emotions where we are wide open and authentic – essentially, joy, spontaneity, achievement… Underlying cause: Vulnerability is a challenge to experience in its raw form
  3. Attitude – Rushing, haste, impatience, focus on doing to the exclusion of being (which comes from an underlying belief of being not-good-enough-yet). Getting our only pluses in the day from ticking our to-do list . And its horrible twin, procrastination, which stems from the same pressure. Underlying cause: The thought ‘I’m not good enough’ makes us devote all our energy to preoccupations and distractions of ‘work’

Then there are various issues & justifications: reasons which hold a half-truth that I’ve shored up into full-blown excuses.

  • My attitude to pleasure (thinking of it as ‘forbidden’ and yet needing some).
  • Investing icecream with concepts of ‘reward’ and ‘treat’ and ‘deserving’.
  • The need to numb out the anguish of experiencing the crying baby.
  • Tiredness, which allows me to get carried away by passing (icecream) thoughts.
  • Lack of ‘something for myself’ in my day with children.
  • Denial about the calorific count. I don’t live by calories, but I have a nebulous idea of how ‘bad’ an icecream might be, and I’ve avoided finding out.

What can we do when we’re being perverse?

I’m a believer that if we devote a little attention to even one of these aspects, we can start a powerful ripple of rebalancing.

I tell myself that this is the process for me with food: veering off course and rebalancing. Just like with meditation, when your mind drifts off, then you bring it back (and your meditation isn’t a failure because it’s drifted, that’s just what the mind does). Well, that’s what my relationship with eating does. Only now I know where to look to rebalance it.

The secret weapon

As I describe in my YouTube video, I thought my eating habits were a monster that could be slain if I only found the secret weapon. Turns out the weapons are already at hand. Check out:

  • Kindness to ourselves (and others) for very human way that emotions, and habits, and our beliefs about ourselves and our self-narratives about our tiny behaviours mount up, and trip us up.
  • Courage to dispel shame about veering off course.
  • Paying attention to the way we are with ourselves and tweaking the tiny things we do.
  • Tackling stress. Never underestimating the formidable impact of even self-generated stress. Particularly the idea that we ‘aren’t good enough’ and must ‘try harder’.

So much more to learn

And there are other places Marc David (author of the Slow Down Diet) and the Institute for the Psychology of Eating inspire us to look too: giving ourselves permission for pleasure; cultivating the ability to savour; breathing deeply and slowing down during mealtimes; taking in food with all your senses; understanding the science so you can visualise how your body is loving what you’re doing differently; becoming skilled at relaxation; eating at optimum points in the day for good digestion; taking care of the quality of the food we eat; engaging with the miracle of the body, and nature’s, intelligence…

I’d like to help other people unravel their complex relationship with food

This animation is an entry for a competition to win a $4,000 scholarship to train as a food psychology coach. You can help me by ‘liking’ it on YouTube. To ‘like’ something on YouTube you just need to sign in with your Google+ or Gmail account, or YouTube account. (While you’re there, ‘subscribe’ to my channel to see all my future animations).

I hope you’ll really like it, as well as ‘like’ it, because I drew it myself, from the heart.

If you wanna give me a HUGE boost, share it too

If you do this extra bit, I thank thee. As a favour to me. Post it on Facebook. Shout it out on Twitter. Share it on your blog. Email it to your friends who would find it pertinent.

And SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel to see all my past and future animations.

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Laura Eades Like my animation
Like my animation please by clicking ‘like’ on YouTube. Laura Eades 2014

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