Taking a curious stance can help move you away from using food in a disordered way. It can also bring you out of shame that you might feel about your behaviors because it helps you see the bigger picture.
How to foster curiosity:
- Observe the thought/behavior as interesting, e.g. "Oh, that's so interesting that I'm having the thought that my thighs are too big." or "That's interesting that I overate just now."
- Once you've cultivated the awareness, ask yourself why it happened, e.g. "I wonder why I am wanting to restrict my eating today." or "Why might I be feeling this way?"
- Check in with your emotions outside of food/weight/shape, e.g. "What am I feeling right now outside of food?" or "How's my stress level today?"
Beating yourself up for your eating or body image takes you down a rabbit hole of thoughts and behaviors that actually perpetuate the eating issue. For example, if I feel "fat" and thus decide to restrict my food but then end up feeling deprived and bingeing and beating myself up for bingeing, I then end up back at the starting point of feeling "fat" and the cycle starts all over. Not very productive.
But by noticing that I'm feeling fat and observing it as interesting I can then be curious about why I'm feeling that way and what else I'm feeling. Chances are outside of food I'm experiencing emotions about something else. It might be that I'm feeling inadequate (which our society equates with fatness), or lonely, or tired, or angry, or some other emotion.
Realizing what you're feeling underneath the thoughts about food/weight/shape also allows you to have compassion for yourself. Being curious and compassionate is a much more effective and productive approach than shaming yourself.
Whenever any kind of suffering arises, even if it's subtle or minor, recognize that it is there and send it compassion.
— Thich Nhat Hanh
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