When was the last time your mouth watered when you thought of a favorite meal? You haven’t even smelled or tasted it and the thought alone begins the digestion process in the mouth. When you eat a meal from this state the enzymes in the saliva begin the breakdown of the nutrients in the food and now this meal has a better chance of being properly digested. Now, what if you had a negative thought about yourself, someone else, or were having compulsive thoughts over food, then ate mindlessly? How does these thoughts effect the food entering your body? Prolly not as well as the first scenario.
I recently met a man who use to be a private chef for someone famous (not to name drop, but I am going to, Ted Danson) and a Clinical Psychologist. I had one question for him, “What do you think people need to enhance their mind and nutrition?”. Even though I really wanted to know Ted Danson’s favorite meal.
He first gave me some insights on how to help people purchase quality whole foods, and then decided he was going to shift gears and instead he referred me to a book on how to help people observe and change their mindset to want to choose quality for themselves.
According to “Feeling Good, the new mood therapy” by Dr. Burns, there are 10 Cognitive Distortions that determine your relationship between the way you think and the way you feel. I am going to relate these to our relationship with food and self care. If you have depression or other emotional trauma, please see a wonderful health care professional for more support.
- All or None Thinking: This is pretty much my whole reason for writing this blog and my life’s purpose is to debunk this type of black and white thinking with our relationship to food. If this is you you tend to have a distorted perception of perfection and if you do not attain this feel you are a total failure. I started out learning nutrition from this mind set and it had some positives such as the science and nutrition facts. Now, after discovering how we are complex emotional beings we need to learn how to relate to food and our body vs being perfect. A Positive Action Step: If this is you, try waking up focusing on how you feel, and add in two wins that will help you feel better about yourself vs. trying to climb Mt. Everest everyday and setting yourself up to feel like you can never accomplish enough. For example, add in one habit or snack that you are certain your body feels better having in your life.
- Overgeneralization: You see a single negative event as a never ending pattern of defeat. For example, if you react to an unfavorable event by saying, “This always happens to me”. This is linked to the pain of deep rejection. Positive Action Step: Ask yourself, is this really true? Then feel where this rejection is lingering in your body and journal. Also, if you go to the grocery store in auto pilot mode, try feeling into your body and adding a meal that would make you feel like you were on vacation.
- Mental Filter: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of reality becomes distorted. Positive Action Step: If you tend to worry and focus on the negative, write down 5 things you are grateful for every morning when you awake and every evening before you sleep.
- Disqualifying the Positive: You down play and reject when positive things happen, so you can discount them and not feel hopeful. You have a gorgeous meal with friends and instead of savoring it, you know that is going to make you gain weight and you should never go out to eat anymore. Positive Action Step: You eat a gorgeous meal with your friends, come home and feel great, and right before you go to bed, you decide that tomorrow is going to feel great and you see more hope coming into your life.
- Jumping to Conclusions: You jump to negative conclusions that are not justified by the facts of the situation. I know this one, when I want email or call someone and I don’t hear back from them I make up a story that they don’t have time for me. When they may have not got the message and my made up story only hurts me. Positive Action Step: When you feel yourself falling down the rabbit hole, grab one to anything. A walk outside, meditation, journal, or make yourself laugh.
- Magnification and Minimization: You magnify your imperfections and minimize your good points, you are guaranteed to feel inferior. But the problem isn’t you, it is the lens you are looking through. Positive Action Step: You eat something that is “bad” and obsess over it for a day, week or a month, even though you drank veggie juice, heaps of water, and exercised, it will never be enough to counteract that food. It is how you are thinking vs what is really true.
- Emotional Reasoning: You take your emotions as evidence for the truth. The big side effect of this is procrastination. Combine this one with #1 All or None Thinking and you got, well if I can never eat perfect, I might as well not start. Positive Action Step: Think of your favorite meal and research how you can make it a bit healthier, my secret is to add 2 cups of veggies to anything and you will be in a better place: Lasagna, Pizza, Steak, etc.
- Should Statements: I don’t even need to explain this one. The statements of should and must already cause us pressure and resentment before we even begin the task. Positive Action Step: This is the new cuss word, especially regarding food. Reality happens and learning to manage our expectations of ourselves and others is a process. Put $1 in a jar and try to release the pressure by owning the moment and setting up a time to do this should when it aligns.
- Labeling and Mislabeling: Describes yourself or events with words that are inaccurate and emotionally heavily loaded. The example he uses in the book is this: A woman on a diet ate a dish of ice cream, instantly she called herself disgusting and repulsive, which made her eat the whole quart. Positive Action Step: Most people are so kind to others and not so kind to themselves. Trying writing 10 qualities about yourself that you admire.
- Personalization: The mother of all guilt. You take it upon yourself that it is your fault even if you were not responsible for it. Positive Action Step: We have to trim our sense of responsibility down a bit. Try understanding what is a realistic, manageable goal for you when you cook at home. If you think you are going to cook 3 meals a day 7 days a week, most likely this is going to be challenging. Instead, notice what days are busier for you and try to grab some conscious take out or other prepared meals.
Basically, we are emotionally charged beings with a bit of distortions between our thoughts and feelings. I think many wars have been fought over this, relationships have ended and the boom of the self-help era is upon us.
Thank you for being an emotionally open human,
Heather Fleming, C.C.N.
P.S. I had two clients recently graduate and release their stress around food so we have 2 openings for anyone who wants to release compulsive thinking and replace it with your intuition. Please email me for us to chat and see if the process is supportive for you.
P.S.S. This video is for any of use who have any of these and need sugar to help us feel or not feel this confusion.