Our internalized messages about food, weight, bodies, and dieting can seep into our mindful eating practices. I refer to these messages as my Restrictive Voice or as “my old friend, RV.”
I personify RV because externalizing this voice gives me enough distance to explore it more objectively. When I have that distance, I can mindfully explore what’s happening, what’s working, and what I want to change.
Since RV often lurks in the background of my mind, I look for him whenever I notice that something is getting in the way of my mindful eating practice.
Mindfulness can help you become aware of your Restrictive Voice too. Clues that RV is present:
- You notice restrictive thoughts. Examples: “You can’t have…,” “I shouldn’t have…,” “You have to…”
- You notice extreme black and white thinking. Examples: “I’ll never…,” or “This always…”
- You notice that you are feeling “bad.” You may feel emotions like fear, hopelessness, shame, frustration, annoyance, or anger. (Be aware that you may not feel anything at all if you’ve moved straight into some form of avoidance to get away from an uncomfortable emotion.)
- You can look at your behavior for clues as well. Examples: Shopping, reading, watching T.V., surfing the Internet, etc.
I find that tension builds when RV is present, like a rope tightening or a rubber band stretching tighter and tighter. The antidote to RV is acknowledging his presence and sending him on his way. When I notice the tension and RV’s presence, I acknowledge he’s there and offer him an all expense paid vacation to sunny Florida! He still calls in once in a while, but now I can thank him for the call and hang up.
Once he’s gone, I can choose a more supportive, Self-Care voice to mentor me. This is a kind, compassionate voice that has my best interest in mind and helps me find balance in my life.
When you find yourself in an Overeating, Binge Eating or Restrictive Eating Cycle, become aware of the thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and tension. For example, you might notice, “Ah, I’m feeling old shame. I know where this is coming from. I know how to help myself.”
You can then choose to cut the confining rope that RV has wrapped around you. Allow your compassionate, loving voice to guide you back to mindful eating. This voice lives deep within you-and it’s been there the whole time. Listen closely and you’ll hear gentle, encouraging messages guiding you back to peace.