The hardest aspect of this transition for me is coming to terms with the fact that it needs to be forever. I can’t just make all these changes until I lose some weight and then go merrily back to the way I used to eat. My mind is working overtime trying to wrap my head around the concept of “lifestyle change.” Not a diet or a quick fix, but a total shift in thinking, believing, and behaving. Honestly, the “doing” is not the most challenging aspect. It’s the process of slowly modifying the way you think about food, health, and emotions.
I will be the first to admit that I’m an emotional eater. I find comfort in eating foods that are attached to lovely memories or that just taste so “good” they make me happy while they’re going in my mouth. I am struggling desperately to transform the thought processes underneath these eating habits.
I struggle despite having had a fairly convicting experience a week ago. I found a vegan brownie mug cake recipe. I was so excited and made it that evening, topped with some almond milk ice cream. Eating that brownie and ice cream felt SO GOOD! But afterwards I had the most horrible stomach ache. It’s like my body was rejecting the treat. The point here is that my body knew that it didn’t want all those empty calories and sugar. It naturally said, “NO!” in a pretty forceful way. But the mind is so powerful. It had me trying another brownie recipe the next night. Same result – tasted AMAZING going down and then my body revolted. Why was my mind trying so hard to continue finding comfort and joy in this brownie?
I believe that it (my mind) has been conditioned to view foods incorrectly my entire life. As babies, we find comfort and security in a bottle or our mother’s breast milk. We associate holidays, seasons, and traditions with food. We gather and create relationships around the table. We find pleasure and solace in familiar foods. We crave it, restrict it, schedule it, and even mindlessly consume it. Go to the movies without a soda and buttered popcorn – blasphemy! Visit the State Fair without consuming a battered, dipped in oil concoction – no way!
Chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, hamburgers, ice cream, chocolate. To me they are cocoons that surround me in safety, love, contentment, and joy. Take them away and my mind is reeling with loss. The body adjusts quickly. But the mind. The mind takes a lot more time embracing change. I realize, deep in my soul, that I need to view food as nourishment for my body. Eat to live and not live to eat. The mind does not transition without a little kicking and screaming though. So I will give it some time to mourn, to have its temper tantrum. I know that, over time, the mind will accept this new perspective and begin to thrive again. It will follow my body and soul and begin perceiving healthy and nourishing foods as fuel for life.
Perhaps that’s why so many attempts at transformation end up failing. We allow the mind to convince us to give up rather than giving it time to adapt to what is being introduced. Just maybe the key to success is in surviving the discomfort of the mind while it rearranges itself to accommodate what is new!