Do you want to change your relationship to food but can’t even imagine what that would be like?
Do you have a hard time thinking you could ever get to a point where you don’t automatically reach for food when you’re looking for comfort?
Does it feel impossible to think about food not taking up a lot of your thoughts?
If so, you’re not alone. These are all things I used to struggle with, too. I wanted things to be different, but how could I achieve something that seemed so far away, something I couldn’t even imagine?
Here are 3 tips from my own experience that might help you reframe how you think about approaching those changes.
Choose One Thing You Want to be Different
Back when I consistently overate and turned to food for just about every reason, I wanted so many things in my life to be different.
I wanted to lose weight… get to the top of Mt. Katahdin… feel better about my body… have better self-esteem… be happy… stop thinking about food so much… eat in a healthier way… climb stairs without getting out of breath… buy clothes without having to go to the plus-size section… stop craving sugar… and more.
It all felt overwhelming, and I also had no real idea of what it would take to get all of those things. I couldn’t focus on all of them at once.
If you’re in a similar situation, I suggest choosing one thing as your main priority, at least to start with. In my case, that was climbing Mt. Katahdin.
But for you, it might be feeling happier, or thinking less about food, or something else.
Whatever it is, you can use that as a guiding point when you’re making decisions.
If your goal is to think less about food, you could start noticing how often food comes to mind during the day. When it does, is there something you could think about instead? Can you make a conscious effort to shift your thoughts to something else, even for a few seconds?
Having just one thing to focus on and use as a sort of compass will make it much easier to take action and start moving toward that goal.
Focus on Today
Once you have your primary goal in mind, it might be tempting to think far ahead about how your life will be different in a month or six months or a year. That’s fun to do for a little while, but the reality is, you won’t know how your life will be different,
For example, when I focused on getting to the top of Mt. Katahdin, I certainly hoped that I’d lose weight and be able to buy smaller sized clothes and not get out of breath by taking stairs. And I did get those things.
But I had no idea that this would change my relationships with family and friends. I didn’t predict how much more comfortable I would be with traveling to other countries. I never imagined that I’d start speaking up more and taking on leadership roles at my church.
Plus, I worried about looking far out into the future. I’d tried that so many times with diets, only to be disappointed. I didn’t want to set myself up for more disappointment.
Instead of dreaming about a distant future that I couldn’t really imagine, I paid attention to the choices I was making each day. I might not know how things would turn out in the long run, but at least in the moment, I could be in charge of how I acted.
This isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy imagining how things might be, but don’t get stuck there. You’ll have a better chance of making a change if you focus on it today, and then each day as it comes.
Finally, it helps to stay curious about changes you notice day by day.
For example, if your goal is to stop using food anytime you’re looking for comfort and you focus on that each day, after a week or so you’ll likely see some changes. You could discover that food isn’t as satisfying as you thought it was when you aren’t hungry. Perhaps you’ll notice that when you do something other than eat – maybe listen to your favorite song or dance around the living room – you have more energy.
And if you stay curious about the changes, you’ll start spotting other things. Maybe you’ll find that you’re willing to experiment with different kinds of food. You could dust off a cookbook that’s been sitting on the shelf and try some new recipes. You might find that you like getting in some physical activity.
Once you start noticing these things, you’ll get even more curious to see what else is changing for you, and that can help keep you motivated in moving towards your goal.
You Can Reach Even Unimaginable Goals
Big goals can feel far away, and you might not even be able to imagine what things will be like when you get there. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make progress.
If you focus your attention on one main goal and keep that in mind when you’re going about your day, you may find that it acts as a sort of “north star” to give you direction. You can check to see if your decisions are helping you head towards that goal or taking you off on a different path.
And if you stay curious about what’s going on, you’ll start noticing small changes – and those changes can add up. Paying attention to your progress, no matter how small it is, will help keep you motivated.
Even better, once you get to a certain point, you’ll probably find that you like how things have changed, and you won’t be able to imagine going back to the way things were. You’ll want to just keep moving forward, eager to discover what the future will bring.