Obsessive Thinking About Food and Your Body
Play • 38 min

Do you find yourself stuck in a loop of overthinking thoughts about what you should be eating or what you shouldn’t be eating or what you want to be eating later in the day? Do you also get stuck ruminating on thoughts about your body? 

Our mind sends us innocent little thoughts over and over - scientists guess that we might think 80,000 thoughts in a day. But when these thoughts connect to our self worth or to our buried beliefs that we are not enough, we get hooked. 

We ruminate, we try to fix, we panic, we plan, we come up with excuses, and now one innocent little thought has become a hundred or even a thousand thoughts all along the same theme. The mind also loves to think in terms of worst-case scenarios, because then it thinks it is keeping you safe. The mind often believes that if you can just obsess a bit more you will think your way out of the life and death situation of the moment.  

Ha! It’s sort of hilarious actually.  If this sounds like you, well how’s that working for you?

The overthinking mind creates a cycle of obsession driven by guilt, fear, and shame and can quickly turn you inside of yourself. You stay in your head, in your thoughts, you barely notice the world around you, and you might become irritable, self-absorbed, or dissociated. when this happens you will have less (not more!) control over your eating habits. 

In this episode, I talk about some of the obsessive thoughts that can derail us. I discuss specific ways to stop this obsessive cycle and control the thought machine that is your brain. I also address effective ways to set goals and intentions to give you the results you want. Before I recap the show notes I want to alert listeners that I have a class starting March 9, 2021 and that you can sign up now to begin receiving class materials and get a head start. 

Yes, my 10-week CLASS starts March 9!

This transformative class will include 5 zoom sessions from 7:30 to 9 pm eastern time as well as numerous pre-recorded videos, audio recordings, handouts, and membership in a Facebook community. It is packed with content and comes with a money-back guarantee! You can't take this class and not begin to understand the roots of your eating habits that you might be frustrated with.

To sign up for the class or to get private help, visit my website.  You can also send me an email at betsy@betsythurstonrd.com.

  Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Learn how fear drives your obsessive thinking about food and your body.
  2. Find out about the basic laws of inner physics that happen inside our body when we think about food.
  3. Discover how you can acknowledge but not give in to cravings.
Episode Highlights How to Change Your Fear About Your Eating and Your Body

When you're feeling out of control with your eating habits, you're perceiving an internal state of emergency. The truth is though, this emergency only exists in your mind. Being in this internal state can make you zone out, mindless, and then stop caring. It’s so overwhelming that you might just get more out of control in an effort to calm your inner world down. 

Everyone’s got a list of regular excuses when it comes to eating. Often, you aren't conscious of these — you shut your obsessive mind off so you can enjoy the food in front of you. Parts of you will be very upset with your eating though, and the internal polarized energy will begin growing. Most likely obsessive thinking will take over. 

The only way to stop this obsessive thinking is to stop fearing the body you currently have. If you could find a way to make peace with your body in that moment, even just for 5 minutes, everything can calm down. One of the very best tools for understanding and working with the inner world is through Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy. IFS helps us understand that past experiences of shame often create this cycle of needing to focus on eating and your body. The feeling of being unsafe in your body now is often based largely on a memory of past experiences. 

Your Brain Is Only a Thinking Machine

You are not totally helpless, even though parts of you will feel this way. Parts of you feel helpless while other parts of you will feel and experience other things. Your brain is just a thinking machine that has a habit of repeating the same thoughts over and over again. There will be parts inside of you desperate not to repeat difficult experiences from the past, and these parts can run our lives. When they completely take us over we can get trapped in all sorts of overthinking. These overthinking, dieting, planning, perfectionistic parts always are trying to help you — even if it doesn’t appear that way.

You might think of these thoughts as well-worn pathways in the brain. Every time you think of the fear of how you look or how you eat, you’re reinforcing the strength of this pathway and this part will grow stronger. You might end up reverting back to this well traveled pathway with more and more ease. It is very familiar and easy to think what you keep thinking. Remember: energy flows where attention goes. 

There is good news! You can change your thinking patterns because the brain can rewire itself. This ability is called neuroplasticity. While it's helpful to acknowledge the fear and the discomfort from these thoughts, learning how to engage with them in a different way or not at all is the trick. There is a process that you can learn, and yes, it takes time. 

Establishing Your Goal

Losing weight is not a helpful goal. Paradoxically, the most effective objective is, "I want to not care about my body weight." It's more likely to give you the results that you want. To do this, you have to stop participating in the thoughts about your body, diet, food, weight in the same way. Often it’s most helpful to stop participating with them at all. 

Meanwhile, some people have the opposite problem—they don't care enough. But generally deep down inside, they care too much. They care so much that they become in denial. It makes them go numb and eating takes them over.

The bottom line is: you need to listen to your body and your thoughts and acknowledge that they're there. You don't have to act on what they're telling you to do. Calm them down, and perhaps tell them that you're not going to talk to them right now. 

Often the first step is in just noticing your patterns of eating, obsessing, and reacting. Acknowledging these is where healing starts. To be curious and welcome them is a great option. When you see obsessive thoughts, you can say, “Oh, hello! There’s that thought.” Often it’s very effective when for a moment you just notice it without caring about it or taking the bait to go into the world of obsessing. 

Stopping the Obsessive Thinking Over Food

It’s very helpful to get into a practice of eating nutritious, nourishing foods on a mostly regular basis. Don't skip meals. Most people need to eat a minimum of three meals a day. If you want to lose weight, you can reduce the amount of food you eat by focusing on portion size but don't go overboard.

Here are some notes on food and eating:

  • A balanced meal includes sources of protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Otherwise it’s easy to feel deprived and be starving an hour later. 
  • Fruits and vegetables are very healing the brain and body and keep you satisfied.
  • Eating “diet food” that you don’t like is a setup to fail. Instead, just eat a smaller portion of what you want.
  • Seek balance and moderation, and slow down your eating.
  • It can be helpful to reduce your sugar intake, but you don't need to be extreme.
  • Highly restrictive diets are not going to work in the long run.
How to Deal with Cravings

Most people go to sugar when they find themselves in that “go off the rails” moment. Having a goal of “no sugar” can be very helpful for some, but it doesn’t work for everyone. What might be more helpful is to make the goal not to care about the craving. It takes us back to the basics of not engaging with the fear thoughts. Just notice the craving from a separate place.

You might feel deprived. But feeling deprived boils down to feeling uncomfortable. It's just a sensation driven by a thought. When you learn to stay with this discomfort, recognizing it’s merely a thought, you will feel unbelievably empowered. When you get out of the thought stream, a part of you with more wisdom will take over.

5 Powerful Quotes from this Episode

“If you want to lose weight, and you want to stop obsessing over your food choices or your body, you must understand that the problem lies in the paradox: you want it too much.”

“It's this physics of life that we have got to understand and work with: we attract to us the very situations that we need to learn to overcome.”

“The thing is, the mind knows exactly what it's doing. The mind is always trying to help you. It just doesn't appear that way.”

“Whatever you're believing about your body, or the foods, or your obsessions, you're really basing them off of the past. And you know what? We're not in the past. We're in the now; we're in the moment. Every second is an opportunity to change things.”

“We can control our lives. We can control our mind when we learn and we realize it's just a machine of thinking.”

If you listened to the podcast and enjoyed it, please share and post a review!

Have any questions or want to schedule an appointment or enroll in my class? You can email me at betsy@betsythurstonrd.com or visit my website.

To making peace with eating,

Betsy

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