When you pig out, try this

by Dr. Ellen Cullman, FLT Columnist

We’ve all experienced this: You are two weeks into your new diet and feel good about yourself. You stuck to it and even lost a few pounds. However, what you really like is that your jeans are more comfortable and fit better. Scratch off your list the misery of shopping for a bigger pair. Then several hours later all that has changed. You frittered away your confidence and willpower at dinner with friends. You have ruined your wonderful turn-my-life-around diet—again! Berating yourself, you and your shattered self-esteem go to bed feeling guilty, ashamed, and hopeless—fill in your own emotions.     

Sound familiar? Perhaps some practice in mindful self-compassion will help. Recent research has shown that mindful self-compassion may tap into your self-esteem and help you to move forward (www.self-compassion.org). Furthermore, it can be helpful for guilty eaters who tend to struggle after episodes of overeating. 

Research has identified three self-compassion skills (www.self-compassion.org) you can practice. Begin with mindful awareness by noticing your feelings in the present moment (angry, livid, hating yourself, etc.). Next, ask, “How would I treat a good friend who felt this way?” I imagine you would treat your friends with compassionate kindness and support when they struggle. What would happen if you turned some of that on yourself? This can be difficult when you are so mad at yourself for overeating. It means you learn to love, understand and be kind to yourself while experiencing difficult feelings. Begin noting your positive qualities and accomplishments. No one is all good or all bad. Finally, even if it is in small steps, accept yourself as a human being just like everyone else. Everyone suffers in some way and no one is alone when it comes to overindulging.    

Next, calm your self-incriminating feelings, objectively reflecting on your eating episode. With this detached evaluative view, make a plan for eating out the next time. As The Mindful Eating Coach, I recommend dropping your diet, at least for that meal, and come up with one behavior when eating out you will practice. You could ask the waiter to pack up half of your meal to go before you start eating. Alternatively, take breaks from eating by setting your fork down and focusing on your friends. Finally, you could plan to call me because I can help and would love to do it!

 See more of Dr. Cullman’s columns at http://www.firstlocaltoledo.com/columnists/dr-ellen-cullman. Email mindfuleatingcoach@gmail.com or call 419-494-7699 for information about how you can begin mindfully eating. Dr. Cullman is available for presentations, seminars, personalized retreats as well as individual sessions.