I started reading a book called The Weight Escape earlier this year. It’s based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which I found helpful working through depression so I wanted to see how it applies to food. I started working through the book enthusiastically, but haven’t been back to it for a couple of months – so much resistance!
ACT is based on taking actions that bring you closer to the things that you truly care about – the things that you value. I value my health – physical, psychological and emotional – so I considered how a healthier relationship with food would improve my health:
- It would free up time for other more satisfying things, like socialising, art, reading, exercise – it would generally make me more available. Even this weekend I’ve declined plans with friends in favour of going home to binge.
- It’s good for my mental health – if my relationship with food is under control, I feel more in control in other areas of my life and more motivated to do other things like looking after myself and my home, cooking, exercising. What I eat effects my mood.
- I feel better about myself – both how I feel in my body and how I look.
- I care about my physical health. I want nice skin, to feel energised, to sleep well and know I’m eating a healthy diet with all the nutrients my body needs.
- Eating the right foods and being lighter makes exercise feel easier. I enjoy running with a group.
- Freedom from the guilt – food never satisfies me, yet I binge again and again. I want to be free of that.
- It’s better for me financially – the money I waste on unhealthy food could be spent on food that is more nourishing.
- If I can get on top of my relationship with food, I’ll feel less dependent on external support.
- I’ve struggled with this for 15 years. I don’t want my whole life to be like this.
The book also encourages you to reflect on your values. Whilst we have lots of different values that are likely to change over time, I’ve focused on three that feel important right now and motivate me to improve my relationship with food:
- BEING FIT AND ACTIVE
- It feels good
- Looks after my body
- Sense of achievement
- Feeling part of something – running group and gym classes
- The willpower it takes to exercise has a positive impact on other areas of my life
- Connection to others
- It’s good for my mental health
- Taking care of myself
- Helps me sleep
- Makes me more likely to eat well, or at the very least off-sets it a little bit
- EATING FOOD THAT GIVES ME SUSTAINED ENERGY AND HEALTH
- So I don’t have to spend so much time feeling guilty, craving and desiring
- Feeling sustained and satisfied
- It’s good for my body – giving it what it needs
- Gives me the energy for other things that are important in my life
- LOOKING AFTER MY MENTAL HEALTH
- I read somewhere that there are some lessons that we can’t afford to learn again. That really resonated with me, as I worked so hard to get where I am, I don’t want to have to do it all again.
- I’ve had some of the best help and support available – don’t let that go to waste
- So I can enjoy life and achieve the things I long for
I’ll try to post some more as I work through the book and hopefully I can remember to look at what I’ve just written when I feel tempted.