Sunday, May 20 , 2018, 6:52 am | Fair 52º


Collin McShirley: A New Year, a New Relationship With Food

Shame and secrecy. These are two feelings that my clients often use to describe their relationship with food when we are working to uncover their past struggles with binging, compulsive eating, emotional eating or food addiction. 

Their relationship with food causes them to feel shame and secrecy after they eat, only prompting them to eat further. The vicious cycle continues.

If you read my article, "Learning how to Eat Mindfully as Simple as Paying Attention, Asking Questions," you will know that I am also someone who experienced this relationship with food.

When I say relationship, I mean a life-long relationship that you can't run from, divorce, break up with or neglect.

If you're someone who has a challenging relationship with food, it is likely you often choose to numb out the negative feelings associated with binging, compulsive eating or emotional eating and food addiction.

Casting these feelings aside may provide some temporary relief; however, it is important to realize that our relationship with food is a life-long relationship.

Now, this might either provide a sigh of relief, or it may make you fearful. First off, its important to understand that you can't fix everything over night — way too much pressure for anyone to handle.

What you can do, though, is start to make small positive changes that, over time, will help you have a more balanced, loving relationship with food and your body.

I love how when New Years comes along everyone is incredibly motivated to begin their diets, drop those pounds and start fresh. 

I am not criticizing the motivation that comes with the start of a new year, rather I am asking you to be mindful of the fact that you might want to look at it as a life-long lifestyle change rather than a rapid makeover.

Trade in the intensive month or two of food restriction and gym visits for an authentic change that will gradually pay off over time.

I listed some tips below to help you jump start these positive lifestyle changes and improve your life-long relationship with food.

1. There is a huge connection between our relationship with food and how we feel inside. How we eat is a reflection of how we feel.Take time to feel your emotions before you over eat or eat due to reasons other than hunger. Ask yourself "what am I truly hungry for?"  

2. Eat real food that gives you life and energy and comes from a natural source. Try to eliminate artificial and processed foods from your diet or reduce the amount you consume. Your appetite for real food will start to become easy and natural.

3. Don't look to the future for happiness. Live now! A lot of people get into the mindset that they will start to make positive changes when they have the perfect body, weight or clothes. Let go of these false promises about what may or may not happen and start living now. 

4. Take time to see friends and family and move your body. When I started this journey, one of the first things I added was a weekly walk with my friends by the beach. It not only filled my soul with love and happiness but it also helped me lose weight in a healthy way. Find an exercise that is realistic for where you're at now. Don't force yourself into something that you will want to quit right away. Instead, start small and just go for a walk. Be present and enjoy yourself.

5. Take time to love you! We need to love ourselves into change and transformation. This is the only way. I suggest that you start every morning with writing a list of things that you love about yourself. If you have a hard time finding something you love about yourself, you can always write about something you love about your life. Maybe its a pet or a family member or a favorite song. This expression of love will start to make you notice the love you have for yourself. Let it blossom. 

No matter where you are in life with your relationship to food and yourself, it is never too late to start a new journey on the right path. Start small and give yourself the proper love and nutrients to start the new year off right with the mindset.

If you're looking to take the next step toward changing your relationship to food and body and lose weight in a healthy way, sign up for my one month individual New Years Special.

After four individual sessions, you will learn healthy weight loss habits and new positive thought patterns that you will use the rest of your life. 

Don't just lose a couple pounds after the New Year and gain it back right after the motivation has worn off. Stay motivated for life.

For more information about my individual program, please contact Collin Christine at 805.452.4489. Space is limited to 10 people, so call now. 

Collin McShirley, MA, IMF, is certified and specializes in mindful eating, emotional eating, body image and self esteem; she provides coaching services in Santa Barbara, Montecito and Goleta; and she developed the program, “Break Free From Emotional Eating and Learn to Love Your Body.” She grew up in Santa Barbara​, graduated from UC Santa Barbara and received her masters in clinical psychology from Antioch University Santa Barbara. Click here for more information, contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter: @CollinMFTI. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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