Anna Wootton

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How My Psychic Changed My Eating

Sometimes other people know us better than we know ourselves.

Maybe this is because we’re young and still learning about ourselves, maybe it’s the whole perspective thing – we can’t see the forest for the trees, because we’re too close to ourselves. Or, as is probably the case with most emotional eaters, we’re so good at burying our heads in the sand when it comes to our own lives that we are way more in tune to the people around us than we are to our own personalities, desires, dislikes and so on.

A while ago, I walked into see a new psychic and the first thing she said to me as I sat down was that I was “very all or nothing”. She went on to say that I would have a successful career in helping people, in something health-related, but that I wouldn’t be able to help people until I stopped being so all or nothing with myself. I needed to let myself experience those shades of grey, to let myself live in the average and the ‘okay’ and then I would be way better equipped to help others.

I hadn’t even said ‘hello’ to her yet, so my mind was slightly blown that she had seen me so clearly. It was something I knew about myself yet had never really known, if that makes sense – I had never acknowledged it as a truth, and never done anything about it. Now I knew I had to. So whether or not seeing a psychic is your thing, I thought this story might resonate with some of you. It’s actually quite likely you have heard advice about your own personality or flaws from someone that knows you very well, like a family member or a friend. I left her office and took a whole new approach, from that day, to my eating. I couldn’t let go of rules right away, so instead I made my rules a lot more relaxed. Then slowly I started to forget about the ‘rules’ as much as I could. From there, I ended up here, devoting myself to helping others overcome issues with emotional eating.

Most emotional eaters are all-or-nothing people – we’re perfectionists, and if we fail or fall ‘off the wagon’ we give up entirely until we can conjure up enough willpower and gusto to give it another go. Consider this: the couple of days before you were about to start a ‘new diet’ or a cleanse (isn’t it amazing how we always schedule them to start on Monday, so we can have a particularly indulgent weekend?), did you go nuts and have every food you loved in the world, that you wouldn’t be ‘allowed’ on this new diet? I call this the Last Supper mentality and it is classic all or nothing. Or, once you were on this diet, if you broke the diet once did you just throw in the towel and eat like crazy for the rest of the day and just tell yourself you’d start all over again tomorrow?

Yup, that’s all-or-nothing thinking right there.

We won’t accept ‘just enough’ or ‘okay’ or ‘average’. It has to be perfect, following the rules exactly, or not at all. But the problem with that? We have great periods and then all of a sudden we have stretches of time where we ‘fail’ at everything we set our mind to. If you actually calculated it out, with the good days being 10s and the bad being 0s, we probably do end up with an average of about 5 or 6 over the course of a month, and yet we’ve done it through yo-yoing all over the place and feeling either elation at being a ‘good girl’ or guilt over giving in.

Wouldn’t it be better to just aim for 5 or 6 to start with? Aim for a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then really enjoy and savour that dessert? Aim for moving our bodies every day just for 15 minutes, so that any chance to actually make that yoga class or go on a hike with friends is a bonus?

Taking away the ‘all-or-nothing’ approach gives us a saner, calmer and more sustainable lifestyle that is actually achievable. Share it!

1. Aim for 15-minute workouts 5 days a week rather than 30 minutes every single day.

2. Become a ‘sweet snob’ – that’s my mantra. Enjoy any treat you want when you crave it, but be selective! No more cheap chocolate, no more processed junk. Enjoy high-quality desserts and savour every bite. That’s a much easier goal than ‘no more desserts, ever!’

3. If you want to eat more veggies or fruits, focus on introducing one extra serving a day three or four days a week. Anything else will be a bonus, anything less is no big deal.

4. Consider reducing your number of goals. Focusing on two or three goals is less stressful and more achievable than going for seven or eight.

5. Take a look at your savings goal for the year and consider breaking it down into quarterly goals instead of monthly, to allow for wiggle room in case unexpected expenses hit you one month.

Fun Work For You to Consider:

  • Are you an ‘all-or-nothing’ person?
  • What are three ways you can introduce more grey into your black-and-white life? Where can you be easier on yourself or lower your expectations? Use my suggestions above or come up with your own and share in the comments below!