There have been days when that’s how I’ve felt with clients: like they’re gasping for breath, and I’m forcefully trying to revive them. A woman comes for advice about how to eat better, lose weight, reduce her symptoms, yet I would feel like I was shoving a spoon down her throat with each suggestion I made.
Why the resistance? Didn’t she ask for my help?
When I stepped back from these sessions, it was clear that my approach was more to blame than the actual prescriptions.
Having come from an analytically-minded family, I tended to look at the steps towards healing as having an order of operation (you know, like in math?). It’s logical (in my mind) to remove the offending foods from someone’s diet – by offending here, I mean food that likely contributes to their condition – before adding the healing ones. “Cut out the sugar…the dairy…the 3 cups of coffee” – like “no big deal!”. Logical as it is, I’d be messing with people’s ingrained habits and sense of comfort.
As a result of my “just do it” attitude, I’d be faced with the same resistance as if I’d asked the client to solve an elaborate equation. I’ve left her feeling like a stunned 8th grader, helpless & pissed off at the blackboard.
Turns out I had the order wrong.
In reality, the body doesn’t always work from logic…For that matter, neither does the mind. Fact is, the strongest motivators in life stem from the reward & punishment centres in the brain. We’ll bend over backwards for something that’ll get us a pat on the head, or to avoid feeling bad.
Meaning, we’re not going to jump willingly into anything that makes us feel like we’ve done something wrong. “It’s good for you!” isn’t motivation enough to change our desire to taste something that brings back memories of sitting at the table until our plates were clean.
Look at it another way:
Nature abhors a vacuum. Rip out the weed, and chances are you’ll get 3 weeds to replace it. You can avoid that by planting a tiger lily in its place. If, instead, you plant the lily first and let it take hold before you pull the dandelion, the pretty flower’s all set to spread.
Louise Hay has the right idea when she asks that we instigate any sort of change in our lives with affirmations, positive statements that tune our brains to the desired result. Same with the Law of Attraction: train your organism to feel the positive emotions & sensations you’ll experience once you’ve reached your goal.
This is the case with food. Gradually fill your plate with the “good” and before you know it, you’ll have displaced the “bad”. (I put those terms in quotes only because the value of a food is relative to a given situation. Like the weather, most food just is, it’s the choices we make and responses we have to it that changes its value.)
What does this look like in your life?
1. Gradual alterations, made one at a time, become new habits.
Pick one thing to change, and stick with it until it’s part of your landscape. In the brain world, it takes about 25 days to create new neural pathways (some say up to 3 months). Like untrodden wilderness, you need to conscientiously keep putting one foot in front of the other until the way is smooth.
2. “Good health” isn’t synonymous with “perfection”.
Unlike math, life isn’t linear. Allow your journey to better eating meander and alter like the flow of a stream. Even when diverted by a stone, or temporarily blocked by a stick, the water’s always headed in the same direction.
What does this look like in your kitchen?
|Rather than focus on…||Put your mind toward…|
|Eating less sugar||Eating more vegetables: Get excited about how many colours, varieties and preparation methods you can fit into one day.|
|Cutting out dairy||Snacking on nuts & seeds.Trying a bit of coconut milk or avocado in your smoothie.Fitting leafy greens into every meal – fresh herbs count!|
|Cutting out red (or all) meat||Playing around with Meatless Monday.|
These are the biggies, but really just a sampling of possible variations based on your needs & situation.
The more you say yes to wiser choices for your health, the more your body gets to know how it feels, the more you’ll start to crave the good and let go of the bad.
As at the end of that Pink Panther scene, Dreyfus quotes the famous French mantra: “Every day and in every way, I’m getting better & better.”
Commit to your own Self-Love: Book a Free 30-Minute Initial Consult.
Photo credit: Masahiro Ihara