About 12 months ago I discovered the 3 Principles of Sydney Banks, which I have mentioned briefly in previous posts. I engaged with them primarily because they helped me to understand that my feelings and thoughts come from the inside-out rather than the outside-in as I had been led to believe. So, when I was feeling anxious, which was most of the time, those feelings were coming from inside me. Whilst I might want to blame the person or the event for causing my anxiety, it was, in actual fact, all being triggered from within me. I was thrilled that I had found something that helped me with my anxiety and that’s where I really expected it to end. But it hasn’t.
I wouldn’t say I’ve struggled with my weight. I’m probably not as slim as I’d like, but equally I could be a lot bigger.
I know I have an issue with cake. In fact, I think the world knows I have an issue with cake, but in the past, I know I have also had an issue with sweet treats in general.
I have been that person who eats packets (yes, more than one) of Haribo on the commute home from work. Because, obviously, that was going to fix my stressful day!
I’ve been that person that goes to fill up with petrol and sneaks a chocolate bar.
The person that sneaks an ice-cream when I’ve ‘popped’ to buy a pint of milk.
The person who eats a chocolate bar in the middle of the night then stuffs the evidence as far down the bin as it’s possible to go.
So, I’ve not always had a great relationship with food, especially sweet snacks. I’ve tried slimming world and weight watchers. I did once go to a nutritionist. And I have to say, that was when I was at my slimmest and my healthiest, but slowly the bad habits crept back in. Not because I was eating unhealthily at home, not in the slightest. But because of the Haribo on the commute, the daily Twix at break-time. Slowly, over time, coping mechanisms became habits. Habits that I struggled to do without.
However, this increasingly seems to be becoming a thing of the past. And it is quite the tragedy!
Recently I was visiting my parents, which I do struggle with. Square peg, round hole and all that. Anyway, after leaving my parents I found myself in a hotel room with a few hours to kill, a bit peckish with a Lidl supermarket across the road. So, what did I do? I popped to Lidl to buy some nuts and a banana. Some nuts and a banana. You see, although I’d got myself in a dither over my parents, somewhere, I made the connection between, dither, feelings and thoughts. I realised that the haribo was not going to fix that and that actually I was just a bit peckish.
So I took my banana and nuts for a bit of a stroll to get some fresh air.
I know that I felt a million times better for this healthy choice than I would if I’d eaten the haribo. I’d have felt dreadful physically, and I’d also have been in the guilt spiral because I’d given in to the haribo. What saddens me most is I cannot think of one reason why I would ever need to eat another haribo – except on special occasions – like Halloween!
Apparently, this can be a thing after connecting with the 3 Principles. It becomes easier to spot haywire thoughts and feelings in the moment, including those related to habits. And rather than blindly reaching for the biscuit tin to gloss over the feelings and thoughts, I stop and notice and think, well I never. There’s a haywire thought there. The moment passes, along with the need to eat the thing I thought would help.
This has also started to filter over into other areas of my diet. I’ve never been a massive chip eater, but it has become more and more infrequent. I’ve started to question why I might be eating something. Is that the best food for me in the moment. What really seems to have clicked is that my body is fueled by what I put in it, and if I put foods into it that aren’t good for me or largely chemical based, I start to feel a bit rubbish. Obviously, the big contenders for me are alcohol and chemicals found in low fat alternatives, but I’ve also started to engage with my body a little more and notice foods that make me feel uncomfortable, or even the sizes of the portions I’m eating. I’m noticing if I’m full, or if I’m about to eat for the sake of it. Just this past week I declined a trip to one of my favourite restaurants because I just wanted to eat a simple meal at home. My body had just had enough of eating out for the moment. Within 24 hours it felt a million times better. But how often in the past had I ignored these signals and put my body through the stress of digesting yet another large meal.
Rather than finding this restrictive I’m actually starting to enjoy eating, possibly as much as I have in my life. I’m enjoying trying new things, finding and trying new recipes. Some are great, some are dreadful. I’ve even tried cooking a few things myself.
I am really enjoying going to restaurants and picking new things off the menu that previously I might have ignored. By way of an example, we went to a popular chain of French restaurants in Bristol. They had a bean stew with roasted duck. I’d never have considered that before. I’d have stuck to my usual choice – but I thought, why not? Why not try something new? What’s the worst that could happen, I don’t like it and don’t order it again. It was quite possibly one of the nicest things I have ever eaten and was devastated when it was taken off the menu.
Another big change is stopping eating starters and desserts when we go out to eat. Usually, a main course is just fine and two courses leave me nicely full. Three is a bit of a stretch. In the past I would have eaten the three. With little or no thought, just blindly put the food into my body and repented at leisure. There is no more of that. Instead, I notice the thoughts that are saying I ‘should’ have 3 courses because we’re out a restaurant. Or the thought that says I’m a pudding person and so I must have a pudding. I’m not a pudding person, I’m just a person that in the past has thought that she should eat a pudding. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t
It’s been nice for me to appreciate that my diet and food doesn’t have to be that difficult, that I don’t have to be restrictive, that I can eat a bit of what I want, when I fancy. The key thing is that I am noticing more often when urges to eat are coming from thoughts or feelings, or whether I am actually hungry, or whether or not my body feels yummy or not after eating something. It’s actually quite a nice change. I still love cake. I will always love cake. But now I eat cake as a treat and I love it all the more.