Food and your body are your best friends – not your enemy!
One of the most important mental shifts you can make in order to develop a healthier relationship with food, body and Life in general is to replace “enemy mindset” with “friend mindset”, in other words to transition from a relationship based on fear, hate and control to a relationship based on love, trust and compassion.
Friend or Foe?
This might sound simple and obvious, yet if we look at what concretely it means to live in friendship with food and body (and Life in general), you might be surprised to realize that you have been spending (most of) your life with your enemy -and literally ingesting it every time you eat… any wonder you are in constant stress mode? The good news is, it is in YOUR hands to change that relationship in an instant.
In order to assess where you are currently at, just think about how you treat a person who is your enemy as opposed to someone who is your best friend – and how this person treats you (or how you would expect them to treat you).
If someone is your enemy:
- You do not trust them
- You hate/dislike them
- You are afraid of them
- You avoid or ignore them
- Maybe you secretly envy them
- You feel stressed or uncomfortable around them
- You try to cause them harm and/or put obstacles in their way
- You lie to them
- You act behind their back
- You talk badly about and to them
- You judge them
- You do not see anything “good” in them
- You do not expect anything “good” from them – you are suspicious
- You expect them to treat you in the same way
If someone is your best friend:
- You trust them
- You love them
- You are at ease / relaxed with them
- You take good care of them and have only their best interest in mind
- You are honest and open with them
- You talk nicely to and about them
- You are compassionate and gentle and forgive mistakes easily
- You accept them for who they are
- You see the best in them and allow them the freedom to simply be themselves
- You enjoy being with them and have fun together
- You support them to be the best they can be
- You expect them to treat you in the same way
Now apply this to the relationship you have with food and your body. What does it FEEL like for you?
If food is your enemy:
- You are afraid of it or certain substances in it (like fat or toxins…)
- You do not trust it: Food to you (or certain foods) is intrinsically “bad”. You avoid “bad” foods or maybe even whole food groups, because they are just waiting to cause you harm (= make you fat or sick).
- Food makes you feel bad or guilty. Maybe you would like to get rid of it again after having eaten…
- It makes you angry when you are hungry (again), that as a human being you have to eat at all, or that you have to eat certain foods for health reasons (i.e. meat).
- It makes you sad that you cannot eat certain things.
- You often feel stressed or anxious around food, especially with other people around.
- You might avoid eating with others or want to know in advance what’s on the menu.
- You eat in secret or hide food.
- You lie about what you are doing with food.
- You eat very fast and mindless.
- You do not care about how your food is grown nor how it is prepared.
- „As much as necessary, as little as possible“
If food is your best friend:
- You are aware of and grateful for how food takes care of you: It gives your body all that it needs in order to function at its best, which allows you to give the best of you to the world in return. It nourishes you physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
- You take care of food: You make sure it is grown with love and respect, you treat it well, choose it carefully, prepare it with love, do not waste it, eat it consciously and are grateful for it
- Food is a source of pleasure and relaxation
- Food allows you to connect with others
- You trust that your food is good for you
If your body is your enemy:
- It scares you: You are afraid that you might not be able to control it or that it will let you down
- You don’t trust it:
- If you allowed yourself to eat without controlling, counting calories, or exercising, you would not be able to stop eating and become fat.
- Your body is weak and without taking your medicine / supplements it would not function well.
- Trusting your inner voice seems a dangerous thing to do
- You are disconnected from it: You cannot feel the signals coming from your body (i.e. hunger/satiation) or are not able to distinguish physical hunger from emotional hunger. As a consequence, you do not trust those signals.
- You take revenge: Yesterday you did not have enough willpower and ate too much, as a punishment you run a few extra miles today (or eat less)
- You are ashamed of your body and often feel bad in your skin. You try to hide your body as much as possible.
- You are angry or sad that your body looks/is the way it does and feel punished.
- You judge your body and talk badly about it (in front of others or in silence to yourself).
- You punish your body by withdrawing love from it, hurting it actively, overworking it, feeding it junk, or not providing it with what it needs.
- You expect your body to always work against you. If you are sick or in pain you are annoyed and try to silence the symptoms with medication.
If your body is your best friend:
- You trust that your body is perfectly able to self-regulate appetite and hunger, just like you trust it to regulate your blood pressure, heart beat, tissue repair, its ability to grow a baby… You do not try to control it or take over its “job”. You simply make sure it gets all it needs to do what it knows best to do: maintain you in optimal health and fertility.
- You actively listen to signals coming from your body, trust them, act upon them and verify results, thus training your “intuition muscle” to become better and better at distinguishing true intuition from cravings or wishful thinking
- You love your body and take good care of it. You give it all that it needs to function optimally: love, attention, high quality food, sensual pleasure, time, movement…
- You are realistic about your body, accept it for what it is now, even if you do not particularly like it yet. You talk kindly to it and show compassion, even if things are not ideal or “mistakes” happen
- You trust that your body is strong and can deal also with imperfect foods or situations
- You enjoy your body and are not afraid of pleasure
- You see the uniqueness and beauty in your body rather than comparing it to others.
- You expect your body to be on your side. You look at symptoms as your body’s language to communicate with you and listen to them instead of simply ignoring or suppressing them.
As you can see, a simple shift in mindset will have wide implications far beyond your body! This is because your thoughts determine your actions and changing your mindset will change your behaviors. Likewise, the way you do food is the way you do Life and changing your attitude towards food will affect your attitude towards Life as well (and vice versa).
If you do no longer want to spend your life with your enemy, but with your best friend (and honestly, who would not want that?), I invite you to simply try on this mindset and see what it does for you. Just pay attention to the way you feel around food and in your body. Whenever you catch yourself feeling tense, contracted, afraid, angry, etc., ask yourself the question: “What if food (or my body, or Life) was my best friend? In what way would I behave differently? In what way would I have different expectations?” This simple practice makes it possible to shift your perspective – and as a consequence your biochemistry, metabolism and whole experience of life – into a completely different dimension – effortlessly and instantly. You might have to remind yourself again and again and again in different situations, yet if you practice long enough, eventually it will become your new default mode – and by then EVERYTHING will have changed (for the better ;)).