Recognizing I have freedom of choice NOT to eat

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    • #10090

      Hi all!

      I’ve just had an insight! I’ve been working hard to remind myself that I am free to eat whatever, whenever and in any style (mindlessly etc) that I want. But today a combination of things made me realize that I am also free not to eat – I hadn’t been feeling this before.

      When I was doing the exploring mindset questions I had some classic beliefs/rationalizations that Gillian mentions

      I am a compulsive eater
      i’ve always had an eating disorder
      I have no control
      I just can’t stop eating
      Once I start eating I can’t stop eating

      You get the gist. Then I was practicing working through desire today in the car – while I was well away from food but had a faint desire to eat when I got back home. I’ve found it easier to practice when I am not in the kitchen or not facing the food but have an “eating intention.” The car is a good spot because I can’t eat when I am practicing working with the urge.

      Anyway, when I got to the owning my choice step, I was talking myself through the mantra above and it was like “yeah, yeah, like I don’t know that. How do you think I got in this state?”

      I thought about the sensations, and the feeling I had, the compulsion to eat, the ritualistic behavior to play this eating out. Then it struck me! I don’t feel like I am free NOT to eat something. This is what I do, what I have always done and then …..this is what I have to do because it is what I always do and its who I am. I have prohibitive thinking about NOT eating. Lots of it!

      So I drove home telling myself that I am free not to eat, free not to always follow the urges, and ultimately free not to have this problem, be a compulsive eater, be an addict and have an eating disorder.

      That made such a difference! I really didn’t know I was free not to do those things inside me. I was so bowled over with this newfound freedom I came home and forgot all about the eating behavior. Now I am like a kid in a choice candy store and I’m exicted.

      I am free not to eat
      I am free not to follow through on the urge
      I am free not to be an addict
      I am free not to have an eating disorder
      etc etc

      Who knew?

    • #10092

      Hi Jane,

      Wow this is so exciting. I can understand how this insight can make such a difference for you. I am always amazed at the power if thoughts. I read Barb R’s post about imaginings that neurons in her brain rewiring but when you have a big thought it is almost as if you actually FEEL this happening. You know that your brain has changed and you know that this means that you can change.

      I had a thought 3 years ago – I get more pleasure from running than I get from wine. I literally felt this drop into a slot in my brain. I have been sober ever since.

      Now if we only knew which thoughts have this sort of impact what could we achieve in this world.


    • #10095

      Hello Jane, hello Judith, I am not in the current course, but have completed Gillian’s course (twice) and worked with her books too.

      I drop into the forum every so often, and it sounds as if you are making great progress in your thinking. What a great insight into mindset Jane – you don’t have to be ‘that overeater’!

      One thing I found really helpful was the day I realised that the choices were to eat, or to feel the desire to eat without satisfying it (rather than ‘choosing not to eat’).

      For me, making a choice ‘not to eat’ something was too close to restricting myself, whereas making a positive choice to experience the discomfort of desire was much more like healing my relationship with food. As soon as I started to think about it in that way, the feeling was nowhere near as bad as I had feared.

      I still get addictive desire sometimes, and I welcome it. It’s not so bad or scary, and I always have a choice about whether to satisfy it by eating, or to let it rise and fade. And If I satisfy it occasionally, I am ok with that – my life, my choice!

      It’s been great reading about everyone’s progress. I am pretty much where I want to be with eating, after 60+ years of struggling with food urges and dieting. Good luck everyone! You are so right about what we could achieve Judith – Gillian has put this amazing material together, and if you put the time and effort in, it really does get you to a very different place.

      • #10109

        This is such a wonderful insight, Louise! I like framing it in a positive way – choosing to feel the addictive desire and leave it unsatisfied as a way of healing my brain – rather than in a negative way that feels more like deprivation (choosing to not eat something). Thank you so much for sharing – I will try to incorporate this!

    • #10096

      Thanks Louise and Judith,

      Both very inspiring stories. In general, I’d like to think about choosing the discomfort and the benefits when working with the desire. For a few days at least, I am going to go around reminding myself that my choice doesn’t just exist to eat whatever I want whenever I want, but that I have the choice to not eat food – a choice that somehow I didn’t think was available to me. All my prohbitive thinking is around this choice: I can’t stop eating, I always overeater, I have to eat when I see food etc.

      And I love the insight about preferring running to drinking. I hope I get hit by a similar one with respect to overeating.


      • #10097

        Hi Louise, Jane

        Thank you Louise for your insight .. I think that this will REALLY help me as through Gillian’s course I have realised that I am a super complier and I have been really struggling to differentiate between ‘being good’ and really choosing.

        Also Jane, I have tried thinking about eating sugar and running and so far it hasn’t worked BUT I realised that when quit drinking and had the urge to drink I repeated my mantra… I get more pleasure from running than drinking. This I now see engaged my PFC and the desire just melted away! I haven’t use a mantra with sugar.. and there are some doughnuts in a fabulous cafe in the Lake District which ARE as good as running! 🙂 but most sugary stuff is OK but the pleasure is really fleeting, whereas it is rare I don’t get back from my run with a huge grin on my face.

        So now I have two strategies to try!

        Good speaking with you ladies.

    • #10102
      Bev G

      Hey, Jane Judith Louise,

      Thanks so much for all your thoughts on this.

      It sound as though you had a real insight, Jane and your story of your major shift is very inspiring for me. The image I have is of you bursting, hulk-like (!) out of a restrictive suit ie your self image of being a compulsive eater and the resignation and sense of powerlessness associated with that. Quite ironic really, as we have so often been given the message that we need to be physically smaller. Maybe we will, each in our own way, learn how to be BIGGER!

      Louise, your thoughts about choosing to feel the discomfort of an AD to eat chimes with something I’ve been thinking about. I first came across Gillian and her approach when I did her Stop Smoking course. That was in 1995, although I didn’t finally stop until 99, when I truly embraced and applied her methods. The stopping smoking course really stressed the need to experience the discomfort of the AD, as that was the only sure way not to ‘return to smoking’. I was just today thinking I had not noticed that Gillian was emphasising that so much on the ELO course (though maybe she has and I’ve simply missed it).

      Anyway, today I had the realisation (again !) that the only alternative to eating addictively is to experience, in that very moment, my addictive desire – and trust that it will play itself out, nothing terrible will happen and that the more I ‘let it in’ rather than responding to it by overeating, it will eventually take up less and less of my energy. It’s so cheering to hear you say ‘I am pretty much where I want to be with eating’, as it holds out the prospect that I’ll be able to say that for myself, too, if I keep on putting these things into practice. (It’s so different, too, so much more down to earth than all that ‘Rah rah rah – I’ve reached my ‘ideal’ weight’ ‘Ermintrude dropped 5 dress sizes’ etc etc, of the slimming industry con merchants!!!)

      And Judith, thanks for sharing your insights and your enthusiasm. You’re so right about those exciting brain-change moments, in amongst the steady progress stuff. I really enjoy your live comments during the webinars, too.

    • #10104

      Thanks, Bev, for making that connection!!

      I always liked the way isabel Foxen Duke looked at the whole issue of women and eating from a sociological perspective. She talks about how women have imprisoned and minimized their own power by engaging in an ongoing struggle with trying to control eating. I liked what she said but intuitive eating never resonated, or worked, for me. But I really like the idea of bursting hulk like out of my victim role. Decades of eating disorder therapy and 12 step groups have taught me that I am powerless, will always have this problem, can’t stop eating, am an addict etc etc. It isn’t very empowering and it was through exploring choice and prohibition that I realized that, wow, other choices are available to me too – ones I never recognized like: being free, being in control, being powerful. I still haven’t quite come down from my cloud!

      And Judith, I’ve been mulling over your alcohol story for days and now Bev, you’ve thrown in your smoking story to the mix. And I’ve realized I have my own story on the giving up theme. I used to drink lots of tea, and was a poor sleeper, a terrible sleeper. About 20 years ago, after multiple attempts, I stopped drinking it. At first I drank decaf tea and decaf coffee especially when I moved to the US, And I had a sneaky way of knowing which coffee shops sold the strongest decaf. Lots of headaches and sleepless nights later I finally gave up all decaf drinks. I just drank herbal tea.

      I realized that the process I went through was a reprogramming one and one of choice and consequences. And lots of discomfort because for the first month of going off straight caffeine and even decaf the cravings and desire were really bad. And I had lots of addictive beliefs and thinking such as I couldn’t run or exercise without caffeine and I couldn’t work without caffeine. And it was also my identity to be a coffee shop person and tea drinker. But nowadays I basically just drink water – its stunning to think about. I don’t need caffeine to work, exercise or be social. I’ve even gone to big family gatherings in the UK where tea is basically being drip fed and felt just fine not drinking it.

      I guess it is a question of seeing what worked in the past and knowing that we can make the same changes with food. The addictive thinking and beliefs aren’t real and we don’t have to believe them. I have no desire to drink caffeine now – I just think “headache.” Change is possible!

      Thanks all – I am loving the forum postings,

      The empowered hulk!

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