Posts filed under Intuitive Eating

What Travel Looks Like After You Heal Your Binge Eating (My Experience)

IMG_4780.JPG

Last week, I returned home from a trip to Las Vegas with some college friends I had not seen for almost 5 years.  It was a blast reconnecting and exploring the strip together.

If you’ve ever been to Vegas, you know that it’s a city of extremes (What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right?).  In terms of food, Vegas also goes big...  People come far and wide to partake in the buffets, eat at celebrity food restaurants, and enjoy drinking while walking down the street.  My friends and I did just that and had a blast.  As someone who really enjoys travel, its incredibly freeing to be able to enjoy food and the experience of eating while traveling.

 

But it was not always that way for me.  If you’ve followed my story with food, in the past being at a buffet or being surrounded by “trigger foods” while traveling would have caused me incredible anxiety.  Years ago, I struggled with binge eating, finding myself feeling eating until I was sick.  During those years, I was obsessed with food and my weight… spending so many of my days planning out meals, counting calories, exercising intensely, and feeling defeated when I would succumb to a binge. I hid my struggle with food well because the friends I reconnected with this weekend had no idea about the battles with food I had every day.


I am incredibly lucky and grateful to have made peace with food these days.  So what does eating look like after you heal your binge eating & relationship with food?  Here’s what I can share from my own experience:

 

  1. You prepare your snacks/meals to an extent but also allow room to try new things

These days, whenever I travel, I make sure I pack some healthy, enjoyable snacks for the plane (my current favorites are Rx bars, dried edamame, or some fruit).  I prefer not to get caught in a situation where I’m ravenous and have to eat something I neither enjoy nor will my body enjoy.  Having some enjoyable, healthy snacks on hand makes me feel secure, especially if I’m going somewhere new.

Of course, the degree of preparation someone makes to feel safe and secure will vary from person to person!  This is what I find works for me!

 

2. I no longer count calories or think about food in terms of numbers. Instead, I eat based on what my hunger levels and satiety.

When I’m traveling, food is a big part of the experience for me.  My friends went to check out “Wicked Spoon Buffet” - something that would trip me up in the past. It was an enjoyable experience to try different things!

When you learn to tune into your body, you no longer have to count or measure your food, but wherever you go your body’s natural hunger and satiety signals are available to you.

 

3. If you overeat or eat “something bad,” instead of beating yourself up, you just learn from the experience & wait until you’re hungry again.

Often having strict rules with food would lead me (and many of my clients) to feel guilty and beat ourselves up if we broke our rules.  In my previous post about perfectionism, (Read “A Message to All my Current and Recovering Perfectionists”) I shared how the perfectionist mentality is addictive and dangerous, especially for those of us who have struggled with food.

Instead of an overeating situation leading to a shame and guilt spiral that then can lead to more binging, I may feel uncomfortable and “guilty” for a little while but I know if I just wait and take care of my body, I’ll soon reset and feel well again.


4. There are no longer foods that are “off-limits.” There are just foods I like, foods I don’t like, foods that make my body feel good after eating them, and foods that make my body feel like crap after eating them. I get to make the rules about what I eat.

Again, this is super freeing while you travel!  The more you pay attention to your body and how it speaks to you, the more aligned you can be in making choices that honor your body & not have to rely so much on external tools.

IMG_4836.JPG

(Also side note…Speaking of things that make you “feel shitty,” it was funny seeing how everyone was approaching alcohol differently since college.  As we all approach 30, our body’s are definitely telling us it’s time to pay attention more! (ha!))

 

For me personally, traveling and time with friends is all about the experience.  Whereas obsessing about food in the past would have detracted from that in the past, I’m so blessed to look back and see that I can have the best of both worlds these days and can focus on makingamazing memories and times with people I care about :).

 These are just some of the perks I find happen when you heal your relationship with food.  Do any of these perks really call out to you?  What would the ideal relationship with food look like for you during travel?  Feel free to comment below!

 

Stay well, eat well, and savor all that life has to give to you because life is simply too short not to

 

Above all, love,

Keia

 

 

How to Love your Body Even if You Still Struggle with Food or Haven't "Lost the Weight" Yet

One common misconception is that if you love yourself now, you’ll stop going for what you want and become a lifeless vegetable. I find this is far from the case. At certain times, choosing to love your body now might mean to stop the striving and fighting especially if you realize it’s not working for you and isn’t getting you closer to what you truly want in life. At other times, choosing to love yourself and your body might mean challenging yourself to work harder to move towards what you truly want.

So how do you practice loving yourself and your body even if you aren’t yet where you want to be with food? Here are 3 ways to start practicing today:

Mindfulness and Brain Science - Why Mindfulness helps people overcome binge eating, emotional eating, and more

For a long time, I told myself I wasn’t a meditator.  I had countless attempts at meditating only to find quieting my mind to be so difficult. Sure, I had heard why it was useful for you but it wasn’t until I worked with my first meditation teachers that it became a habit for me.  I realized it was a mix of technique & accountability that helped me to finally make it a habit.

One of the interesting “side effects” of meditating more for me was improving my eating habits, actually.  I found that meditation helped me to feel more calm and centered, making wiser more centered choices rather than to be compulsive and emotional with choices (hello emotional eating).  It took some time and practice to become a habit but each time I practiced it became easier and easier.

I often use mindfulness as a tool these days to help my clients overcome binge eating, overeating, emotional eating, and more.  As shared in my last post, mindfulness has a vast array of benefits including but not limited to: a greater sense of peace and calm, the ability to weather strong emotions, and the ability to make wiser, more rational choices.

When I first started, I could feel a visceral difference when I got centered and meditated in simply how I felt.  Later on, I learned more about the neuroscience which helped me to buy even more into the habit of meditation.

As discussed in a previous blog post, we can think of two separate brains when it comes to retraining binge eating and compulsive overeating. First, we have our animal brains (i.e. limbic system) which is our emotional brain, the seat of our habits loops. Second, we have our sane brains (i.e. prefrontal cortex) where we make wiser choices, plan for the future, and so on.  When we meditate and focus our attention, we actually are strengthening the pre-frontal cortex, associated with these wiser decisions.  Like a muscle, what we use, we strength and what we don’t use, we lose.  Over time, we can strengthen our ability to stay centered and calm even in stressful events and times where we normally would act compulsively and emotionally from the animal brain, which might look like stuffing our face with fries.

One of the main tools I use with my clients is mindfulness because it actually strengthens our ability to make wiser choices. Research has shown that mindfulness has been proven to dramatically decrease instances of binge eating and compulsive eating.


So how do you start developing a practice of mindfulness? In my work, I usually start my clients with developing a basic meditation practice. There are plenty of free resources out there or you can consider looking for a meditation teacher or group. In my work, combining mindfulness with coaching, nutrition, etc. have been the keys to help my clients stop binge eating for good.

Why I’m Thankful for my Cravings

It’s 5 pm Costa Rica time, and I have finally arrived back from work.  Right on queue, I sense a craving for sweets, specifically chocolate.  “Come on, one piece won’t hurt. …” the voice of craving says.  “It’s been a long day at work – I DESERVE a treat.”  In fact, I’ve noticed that the voice has been saying this same message all week.

I'll admit I’m not perfect – even as a coach, sometimes I give into my cravings while other times I walk away (which feels great when I do!).  When my emotional eating was at it’s worst, I found myself at the mercy of my cravings – unable to say no.  What I recognize now is that when I’m not physically hungry, cravings for food often represent another need – perhaps something that my body, mind, or soul is hungry for at the time.

I have learned to be thankful for my cravings.  They are clear messengers that something is off-balance in my body or in my life.

“I wish I could stop eating, but I just love food too much!”

A few years ago, I was at Vegetarian Fest in Seattle where a vegan chef and author, Alan Roettinger shared what he believed it meant to truly love someone or something.  He shared that when he fell in love with his wife, he found himself paying attention so intently on how she moved, what she said, and what she did.  To him, to love meant to give complete focus and intention.  He brought that same focus to the food he made with love.

“I wish I could stop eating, but I just love food too much!”  I am guilty of uttering these words and have heard them countless times from friends and clients, who deep down are frustrated with the weight loss process.  Chances are though if you identify as an emotional eater or someone who is overweight, you probably don’t pay much attention to your food or at all.  In fact, you may find that you eat distracted perhaps in front of your phone or the TV.  Perhaps you may find that you are using food to go unconscious and to soothe, as is common in emotional eating.

So what if you agreed with Alan Roettinger’s definition of what it means “to love.”  What would it look like to truly love food?  Perhaps you would make your meal times special.  Perhaps you would place the food nicely on the plate, focus fully on how the food tastes, and be grateful for what it provides you.