Childhood Memories of Food and Deprivation

Does thinking about eating healthy bring back memories of your mother not allowing you to eat your favorite dessert, even for your birthday? My mom insisted I have Angel Food Cake with berries because it had less fat and calories than my preferred Devil’s Food Cake. Amazingly, I still love berries but Angel Food Cake I can totally live without! The upshot of this deprivation was that I sought out favorite chocolate treats whenever and wherever I could and I learned how to hide my eating from even my closest family and friends…and even to some degree from myself! Certainly Mom didn’t intend for this result…she wanted me to be healthy and happy, but by putting a food in the “bad” category it became even more attractive…must like how the girls all seemed to gravitate towards a specific boy if he was labeled “bad”…there’s a little rebellion in all of us!

What are YOUR childhood memories about food? And how does that continue to affect you today?

Does the thought of losing weight bring thoughts of deprivation, giving up favorite foods, lack of variety, eating things you don’t like, or time-consuming meal preparation?

These are CRUCIAL thoughts to ferret out…these are YOUR challenges and they will be different from mine, your sister’s or your best friends…oh we may have some of the same issues, but the complete package will be uniquely yours. This is the real reason that diets don’t work and that no single program that dictates behavior will work for every person. It isn’t the fault of the person attempting to follow the rules…it is an inherent flaw in the system!

So how can you have a system that will work for you? Well, for permanent weight loss success, there has to be some work, but fortunately you are not in it alone! In keeping with the Back To School theme, I’m giving you some homework!

Exercise: take another clean sheet of paper and fold it in half, so it is long and slender (like you will be!) On the left side write down every negative thought you have about food, including what you believe it takes to eat in a way that will allow you to drop unwanted fat from your body. Unfold the paper and on the right side of the fold write down how you can make that thought a positive. Don’t dwell on the negative thought, just flip it around or counter it as quickly and simply as possible. It is good to write what comes from your heart rather than any rules you may have learned. If you can’t come up with something within 30 seconds, skip that one and move to the next. Once you are done, refold the paper so you only see the positive statements. DO NOT LOOK AT THE NEGATIVE LIST AGAIN. Focus on the positive, on what you can do and you will be amazed at how easily this comes to you!

For example, if one of the negative thoughts you have about healthy eating is that it takes a lot of time to make healthy meals, write down at least 1 way you can have healthy food quickly. It might be that you cook a lot of meals ahead and freeze them, or maybe you make 2 salads at a time—one for evening and one for the next day’s lunch, or maybe you have a fast food restaurant that offers a healthy meal that you can enjoy…like the Subway sandwich with part of the bread scooped out (thanks to The Biggest Loser for that tip) or a salad with dressing on the side so you can control the amount.

A common thought that keeps people from losing weight (and one that affected and infected me for years) is the false notion that you have to give up your favorite foods. Now I LOVE chocolate and ice cream, and therefore it should be no surprise that my favorite food is chocolate ice cream. The mere idea that I would NEVER be able to have chocolate ice cream again was enough to send me to the store to buy and eat a half gallon on the spot. Instead, I decided that there are no forbidden foods in my world…I can eat anything that I truly want. The key is that I have to really want it, not just have it be an emotional kneejerk reaction! That was such a liberating concept for me, and absolutely critical to my successfully dropping 125 pounds. I didn’t say I couldn’t have it, or I could only have it once a week…(that might work for you, I’m not saying don’t try that)…for me I had to have the absolute freedom and control to be able to have it whenever I want…that freedom immediately took away the little kid in me wanting to get back at my mom for not letting me have chocolate cake for my birthday…it took me from the little kid rebelling to the adult in control of her own life. The way I see it, saying “can’t” and “never” leads to binges…so if by saying “can” I eat something that is high in sugar, fat or other “bad” things, even if I eat it more frequently, I know I will eat smaller quantities overall…and I will be building on healthy habits that will serve me the rest of my life and allow me to reach and maintain a healthy weight for my body!

You can add to the positive side of this list as much as you want—in fact, I encourage you to do that. This can be your own special “recipe” for success!

Be sure to let me know any insights that you have during this exercise. And share any tips that you learn during the process. Consider this your opportunity for “Show and Tell.”

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