Forget the scale
Looking at the number on your scale is like checking your bank account, you dread the verdict each time. However, if it is completely normal to monitor one’s economic assets, it is much less healthy to scrutinize the slightest gram of gain or loss on one’s scales. Especially since these variations can have many causes such as the quantity of water and the type of food ingested, hormonal variations, stress, or outside temperature. So many factors on a single day, which have an impact on the weight displayed. And this, the next day. The latter is therefore not as reliable as it seems.
Also, remember that the scale only measures your weight. It absolutely does not take into account your bone, muscle and fat mass, nor your measurements. Take some distance from it, by avoiding weighing yourself every day. You will see how liberating it is.
On the same note, we also advise you to stop counting calories. This indicator says nothing about the quality of the ingredients, nor their nutritional value.
Stop demonizing food
“For many, there is this idea that some foods are good, and others are bad. », underlines Ophélie Reisler, psychologist specializing in eating disorders. We could also quote Paracelsus: “everything is poison, nothing is poison: it is the dose that makes the poison”. Translation: no food is harmful, it is the quantity consumed that matters. Certain categories, such as starchy foods, are particularly victims of prejudice. As a result, we want to avoid putting them on the plate at all costs, despite common nutritional sense and our tastes. Likewise “it doesn’t seem wise to me to eat cucumber if you hate it, simply because it has a good reputation. Better to turn to a food from the same family, but that you like. In my opinion, a good diet is certainly a balanced and varied diet, but also a diet that we like, with which we feel in tune. »
Put an end to injunctions
Ban sugars, do not eat starchy foods after 8 p.m., avoid dairy products or consume 2 per day… So many commandments to integrate to get closer to eating well. If we had to make a list, it would never end. Be careful, some are not necessarily bad, however, you must understand that it is impossible to apply them all. Firstly, because some are contradictory, because nutrition is a science in constant evolution. Not to mention that schools differ, you can find as many studies which will show you the benefits of a food, and others which will explain the opposite to you. In food too, reputations are made and unmade according to trends.
Then, most of these instructions do not take into account particular cases of intolerances, allergies or specific diets linked to an ethical choice or an illness.
Finally, certain expressions can be more devious than they seem. “Taking back control of your diet”, for example, particularly bothers the psychologist. “I don’t really like this formulation, which we hear a lot at the moment and which implies that we must control our diet. We must not forget that, fundamentally, eating is a natural and vital process. To imagine, we don’t try to control our breathing, we simply breathe, without thinking about it. Eating is the same thing, our body instinctively knows how to do it. But in our current society, we are exposed to too much information. As a result, we often eat more based on what we have learned than on our needs, when it would be so much more beneficial to trust ourselves. »
(Re)learn to listen to yourself
Intuitive, caring, or mindful eating… These are concepts that are becoming more and more attractive. Because if they are different in form, the substance remains the same: listening to your body and its signals.
To begin, we can practice distinguishing between needs and wants. The former are vital, while the latter respond more to an impulse and are often linked to emotions. Compulsive eaters are also the most inclined to give in.
So, needing to eat to make your body function and stay healthy is very different than wanting to, because it does not involve the same mechanisms. Trying to differentiate and understand them is already a start.
Moreover, this is also what will lead us to regain satiety. A feeling that we have time and again silenced, by skipping a meal, despite the hunger that gripped us to compensate for excesses; or conversely, by forcing yourself to finish your plate. However, one of the keys to nutrition is to eat as much as you are hungry, no more and no less. So if you’re wondering where the happy medium lies, question your satiety.
Finally, to reconnect with your feelings, you can create an environment conducive to eating, by turning off the TV for example, or by practicing exercises that promote mindfulness. Ophélie Reisler therefore offers her patients the opportunity to carry out the following work at home.
“Start by choosing a small portion of a food that makes you happy, no matter what it is. Sometimes it’s chocolate, or cheese, the main thing is that it’s a product that you really want.
First, take the time to look at it and feel it. Then, put it in your mouth, without chewing it. Always focusing on the sensations. You can then start chewing and swallowing. When swallowing, try to define what is happening inside you, what sensations or feelings the food provokes.
This exercise can be done every day, for a week, always with the same product. Repetition allows us to realize that it will always be available, that there is no risk of running out of it. And that’s very reassuring. Knowing that you can regularly eat things you like prevents you from consuming large portions at once, for fear of lack. Moreover, we can realize that after a few days, this food still brings you just as much pleasure, but you no longer want it every day.
At this point, you can try the exercise again with other foods you like, or why not, do the same thing with a full plate. Always with the aim of being mindful during the meal. »
Give yourself time and cultivate your kindness
Unfortunately, you don’t break years of habits in a few days. Relearning to listen to your body is a progressive work, which everyone does at their own pace. You don’t have to be perfect, including in letting go, and can therefore go there gradually. It’s okay to still want to weigh yourself from time to time, if you used to weigh yourself every day or continue to educate yourself about nutrition. It’s also okay to eat chips or industrial cakes from time to time and not have an impeccable diet every day. Well-being begins with kindness, including what we eat.
When letting go becomes necessary
In our quest for “the perfect plate”, we sometimes end up restricting ourselves and falling into food hypercontrol. There are certain cases where it can even lead to pathologies, such as anorexia nervosa or orthorexia.
If this affects you, or one of your loved ones, you should not hesitate to consult health professionals. Eating disorders should not be a taboo subject, let alone a source of shame. With good support and time, it is possible to heal and find a more peaceful relationship with food.
Thanks to Ophélie Reisler for her contribution. More information on https://www.psyenligneophelie.com