• Andréa Lussing

We are half way through January, and many, many people in the world have been trying to lose weight.

Good food. Bad food.

Low points. Low cal. Low carb.

Food, food, food.

But what about how food feels

Your urges to eat 'off limit' foods are simply your brain's way of getting 'high reward' food into your body- foods that are high in sugar, fat, or salt. 

Maybe it's because you've gotten used to those foods, and neutral, whole foods don't feel as pleasurable.

Or maybe it's your body's way of protecting you from losing too much weight (survival instincts, for real). 

But either way, it is natural and normal to be drawn to modern, stimulating foods. The problem is that often those foods don't serve you.

They don't feel good. 

They confuse your body. They make you constipated. They make you tired. They leave you puffy. They leave your mouth sore. You wake up with a headache. Your stomach hurts. Your stomach feels raw.

So what if you noticed that?

What if, instead of feeling ashamed or frustrated for eating what you told yourself you wouldn't, you stayed present with yourself and used those body-feelings as a personal guide for what foods serve you and what foods don't? 

And what if, instead of feeling out of control from those negative feelings in your body, you thought about what would feel good, regardless of how many carbs/calories or points it has, and made that for your next meal?

A donut can feel good. A salad can feel bad. Hummus can feel good. Roasted veggies can feel good. Candy can feel good. Or candy can feel bad.

Some foods may leave you energized or tired, neutral or grumpy, in pain or feeling good, too full or still hungry, sore or at ease, nourished or distressed. Some foods feel good for a little, then feel bad.

Only you will know.

There is no 'good' food and 'bad' food. There is only 'feel' good food, and 'feel' bad food. 

Instead of controlling what you eat by mental and rational choices, why not choose this to be the year you empower your body to decide.

Because your body knows.

Maybe the key to peace is in letting your body lead you toward what feels good, regardless of any other labels that you've put on those foods.

This is the work or making peace with food. And I'd love to help you do it. Let's connect for a call.

  • Andréa Lussing

The idea of trusting your body can come across as absurd if you're in the midst of struggling with food. How can you trust your body when you're sure that if you let go of the reins you'd be led straight into a bag of chips and a half-dozen cookies?

The very nature of struggling with food is that you don't trust yourself around food, you are prone to feeling out of control, and you feel that you have to follow dieting rules to avoid gaining weight. When you're struggling with food, you don't believe that your body and its cues could ever lead the way.

It's hard to hear then, that it's in trusting and honouring your body where peace with food can be found. When you put down your clenched fists, your calculators and trackers, and your diet rules of the moment, you'll be paving the way to mend a broken relationship.

To start along the path of trusting your body, you must make space to believe that your intuitive cues can work for you, not against you. It means believing that your body can guide you to the right foods, at the right times, in the right amount, in a natural and intuitive way, without a need to ever compensate or make up for anything.

The issue that commonly arises with this notion is that it takes a leap of faith to believe it's possible, and that once you start down this road, it takes time.

Re-building trust after it is broken does not happen overnight.

To trust your body you have to begin to re-calibrate yourself to the cues of your body. And in order to do this, you must let go of any habits of restriction or daily calorie allotments. You cannot build trust with your body while simultaneously denying its basic energy requirements for the needs of your 'now' body.

Once you start eating adequately, you can learn the intricacies of your own hunger and appetite sensations, and answer to them with food. It's a communication- a nudging, an asking, or a needing that is honoured instead of silenced, manipulated, deprived or controlled.

As you re-develop this communication, something interesting happens. Those inner cues of hunger become more accurate of what you'd like to eat. Sometimes that's corralled by what's available, what you've already packed, or what you have time for. But sometimes, when given free reign, you'll be able to notice that you want something savoury and salty, or warm and soft, something sweeter, or something fresh and crunchy. Sometimes you'll feel the need for a lot of food and go back for seconds, and sometimes you'll be having a day when you don't feel like eating much.

This is the inner wisdom of your body. And believing that this wisdom is possible for you is the pre-cursor to moving along this path.

Intuitive eating and trusting your body means moving from a rational, control-centred approach, toward a deep innate wisdom that comes from a part of your body that doesn't know what a calorie or carb is.

This kind of eating is possible for everyone. This kind of relationship with food is possible for you too. Reach out if you'd like support.

To learn the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating here.

  • Andréa Lussing

When I talk about Peace with Food, I'm really looking at the whole picture- all the ways that our relationship with food is incongruent with how we want to be with food. But the reality is that our relationship with food is like any other long term project: we have to do the first things, first.

So when it comes to ending binge eating, it's important to separate our eating habits into two distinct groups:

One group is our binge eating- those intense urges, the anxiety that is present until the food is found and/or finished, the out-of-mind state that comes directly from the survival and habit area of the brain signalling over and over that you have to consume that food.

The other group is the not-so-awesome eating, the I-wish-I-didn't-eat-that feeling, the knowing that you could be eating healthier. However, eating mindlessly, grabbing snacks, looking through cupboards, eating too much at a party- that is all very different from a binge. Discerning between these two eating experiences in your life is very important. When we toss the two together in one bucket, we have an overwhelming job of healing everything all at once. But that's never the way progress is made. No one accomplishes all of their New Year's Resolutions. No one has a life make-over all at once. Sustainable change happens one step at a time.

When you're able to distinguish between binge urges/binge eating, and other food habits that may not be so desirable to you, you can prioritize your goals and stay focused on just one thing. In this case that would be ending binge eating and binge urges.

Ending binge eating entails become familiar with binge urges, become curious and aware of how they arrive, what they feel like, the manipulation of their promises for the pleasure you'll get, and so on. Then, with a little support and training, you can recognize that binge urges are not a rational choice, they're not 'you'- they're an unconscious emergency signal and habit pathway coming from your lower brain, which is pretty convinced that getting and eating the food is life or death. When you become comfortable with the fact that your brain is tricking you, you can start doing the real work- laying the foundations to support yourself to ride out the urges and learning tools to help you peacefully manage those urges.

In time, and without being rewarded (by a binge), the signals and pathways in the brain will quiet down and eventually stop all together. It's just like a child- once you are firm in your choice and say no to them over and over, they finally get the message that no means no and they stop asking. So this is goal #1. Becoming the parent of your brain, and saying no again and again until the message is loud and clear. And the best thing about goal #1 is that throughout this process, you'll actually have built up new 'muscle' in your higher brain which will help you with other pesky eating habits you may wish to deal with at a later point. Or maybe you'll realize that you actually love eating chips while watching TV or grabbing a pint of ice-cream with a friend. Once your binge urges are gone, you may realize that eating is not all or nothing, good or bad, black or white. Normal eaters navigate the grey area of imperfect eating daily, and one day, you can too.

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Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA