Keeping weight off permanently involves more than just plugging yourself into the latest diet or weight-loss trend. Successful and lasting change requires creating a new relationship with food itself. As you know, there are no good foods or bad foods. There are however, certain behaviors and eating habits that can throw you off balance - especially if you use food to cope with anxiety, stress, boredom, or other emotions. If you are trying to overcome emotional or stress eating, binge eating, or end perpetual cycles of dieting, you know that there is more to health than calories, fat grams, or carbohydrate content.

While dieting might get you the thinner body you were looking for, creating a new relationship with food is essential to your long-term weight loss success. When you eat, you owe it to yourself to enjoy your experience. The following eight-step process includes some of the most basic and powerful eating habits you can practice to change your relationship with food. The purpose of this exercise is to help you get back in touch with your body. Instead of struggling with food, you can find new ways to enjoy your eating experiences. Do this exercise five times over a period of two to three weeks. Your relationship with food will change for the better.

Step 1: Set aside about 10-20 minutes during which you won't be interrupted. Turn off the television and your phones. Make sure to start the experience at a point in your day when you are hungry, but not famished. Utilize this exercise at different meals.

Step 2: Choose food that appeals to you on all levels. This means that your food is visually appealing, it smells good as you inhale, it feels good in your mouth, and it feels good in both in your mouth and in your body. This food might be something from your forbidden food list, such as bread or pasta, a bacon cheeseburger, an ice cream sundae, or cake. Then again, you might decide to choose a wonderfully appetizing casserole just like your mom you to make, or even spinach. What matters is that the food you use for this exercise is a food that you already like. The purpose of this exercise is not torture your self, but to allow yourself an opportunity to enjoy eating again.

Step 3: Prepare your food and sit down with it in front of you. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Let your body relax, if possible. Notice your thoughts and feelings. Notice if you can tune in to your stomach and lower belly where digestion occurs. Just breathe into your body and allow whatever thoughts and feelings you have to be acceptable. Things are what they are.

Step 4: Pay attention to your breathe and your body, noticing where you might be holding tension. Notice if you have shallow breathing, a tight belly, a tense back, tight jaws, or elevated shoulders. Breathe into these areas, tune into what you might be feeling there, and gradually allow yourself to relax just a little bit more, knowing you are safe and supported. Place both of your feet on the ground as you prepare to eat.

Step 5: If you can, give yourself a moment to experience gratitude for the energy (life) you are about to receive. You deserve all of the good things life has to offer. Whatever food is sitting in front of you came from the earth and will become a part of your body. Remember you are part of the cycle of life. When you eat, you transfer life into your body. You have a right to be alive, to be a part of the cycle of life, to be supported in your life, and to be connected to life. You have a right to receive life into you, and to enjoy yourself as you receive. Connect with the life in the food you are about to eat and sense yourself as being connected to the earth, and being strong, vibrant, and stable.

Step 6: Utilize your senses. Before eating, use your sense of vision and smell to "connect" with the food. Take another moment to feel the life in the food.

Step 7: Allow yourself to accept the food. Take this life energy into your own body so that it can be strong and healthy and help you fulfill your destiny. Chew and swallow and notice if you can feel your stomach receiving the food? Notice if you want to rush and eat the next bite before you have even finished with this one. Breathe, and tell yourself there is enough food, enough pleasure, and that you do not need to grab onto this food. There is enough. You are worthy of having enough. You can let go and relax. Eat your food in freedom. For those of you eating in secret, allow yourself to be seen while eating. You might even put up a mirror in front of you so that you can watch yourself enjoying food.

Step 8: As you eat pay attention to your body. Are you hungry? Does the food taste good in your mouth? How would you rate the food on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being an incredible experience)? Keep checking with your body and keep in touch with your taste. Can you tell when you feel satisfied and when you are done eating?

If you are tired of compulsive eating, emotional eating, or rigid diet rules, use the exercise above as a way to form a new relationship with food. When you start connecting with food, without making any special effort to change your eating, a process naturally starts to take place. You'll start to desire foods that are abundant and alive, foods that give you what you really need on the deepest level. You begin to notice that food is more than just mouth pleasure . . . there is also physical body pleasure. You may recognize foods that drain you and better understand what nourishes, satisfies, and supports you. You learn to honor yourself and support your growth by choosing food, food experiences, thoughts, and behaviors that nourish and heal your body.

Practice this type of sensory aware eating five times over a period of two or three weeks, and your relationship with food will transform. Enjoy and bon appetit!

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Annette Colby, RD can help you take the pain out of life, turn difficult emotions into joy, release stress, end emotional eating, and move beyond depression into an extraordinary life! Annette is the author of Your Highest Potential and has the unique ability to show you how to spark an amazing relationship with your life! Visit www.LovingMiracles.com
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