Happy new year and decade! May this be one where everyone who longs for it can finally live a joyful life free from struggles with food and bodyweight.
It is now over ten years since the start of my own food and body freedom-journey. As I look back over the past decade, I can clearly see how connected my struggles with food and my criticism of my body were tied to other areas of my life. As I gained freedom and peace with food and my body, so in parallel did my challenges in relationships lessen, I found meaningful work I’m well paid for, and my creative life began to flourish …
In 2009 I came out of denial about the extent to which food and my bodyweight preoccupied and distracted me, and I finally acknowledged that nothing I’d tried over the previous decade had worked to give me the sustainable freedom I longed for. I finally sought and found guidance and support I needed in this area, and I prioritised what I was guided to do above all other things in my life.
What did prioritising food and body healing look like for me? It was not as dramatic as it might sound! I did not have to quit my life and move to a hut in the Himalayas, or see a therapist five times a week. There were many practical and spiritual threads I began to weave into my life which I cover in my Food and Body Freedom courses … some of these remain a part of my daily life to this day.
One of these threads was food planning. I maintained it as a daily practice for several years, and it has now evolved into something far more flexible, though it is still present in a different form. I am eternally grateful for the foundations of support this tool gave me in my early years of walking a food freedom path.
My daily food planning practice included looking ahead at my day each morning and considering what was on my agenda for that day. It involved seeing the ‘danger zones’ that lay ahead: these were times where in the past I may have prioritised others’ needs over my own, worked through my lunchbreak, or guiltily stuffed food after getting over-hungry, rushing to the next appointment.
In thinking about the day ahead, I vowed I wouldn’t be without healthy options for food, nor would I allow myself to get too hungry. I planned to put my own needs for food ahead of others’ needs and to allow myself ample time it took to eat my wholesome meals in a peaceful peaceful place and manner.
In my previous blog and video I mention food planning as a tool for finding food freedom. I also mentioned that it only works if it’s fun to do! So how can we ensure it becomes a fruitful, fun and thus sustainable practice, rather than a dry tick-box exercise, about as nourishing as doing our household accounts, or writing a packing-list for a business trip?
Firstly, I believe we need to ensure our food planning practice is coming from the right place within us. We are wise to ask ourselves what parts of ourselves are present each morning, when we write our plan for the day. Do we have a part that tends to want to manipulate, control or perfect our food or our weight? Can we ask that part to relax and allow us to make the plan without it being tightly invested in how the food day actually does unfold? We can remind that part that we are planning in order to take care of ourselves, rather than to make ourselves ‘perfect’ around food, or a ‘perfect weight’.
Secondly, we can practice the art of Micro-visioning. This gives our plan every success of becoming our reality. It involves inviting into the process a very different kind of energy from that of planning. The energy of planning is one of structure, thought and decision. We are always wise to combine the energy of planning with the energy of feeling and emotion.
So how might this balance of energies look in practice? Once we’ve written our plan for the day (the thought and decision part of the process), we can look over our intentions and ask ourselves some questions to encourage in our feelings and emotions. Some recommended questions are:
What would feel good about eating this way today?
What would nourish me about eating these foods, in these amounts, at these times, in this way … today?
Then we can allow ourselves several moments to sit back, breathe into our bodies, and listen to the responses we receive in answer to our questions. Words might come to us, or images, or feelings in our body. You may wish to jot down any such feelings, words, or images that arise … this can sometimes help to emphasise and make our micro-visions feel even more “real”.
Research shows that the sub-conscious mind really doesn’t know the difference between something we’re imagining and something that’s happening right now today. So the practice of combining planning with feeling paves the way for a manifestation of our chosen food reality that day. And then we just press repeat next day.
As long as this practice comes from ourselves, rather than being hijacked by parts of us trying to perfect or control us, it works. I find it works for food, body, and any other area of our lives. In my experience, practicing micro-visioning combined with planning in a conscious, consistent daily way in our food lives first is a great start to eventually finding peace and joy in other much longed-for areas of our lives too.
Micro-visioning makes planning fun. And I find that our ‘inner little kids’ will only allow us to do something (especially daily, consistently) if it feels simply delicious, nourishing, and wholesome to do it. And, as we see the magic of this practice working in our lives over the months and years, even our ‘sceptical adult’ selves begin to admit to the positive, delicious, and wholesome results as they unfold in our lives one day at a time.
With gratitude and love,