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January 4, 2023

🌿 Intentional Living: Reset Your Eating for 2023🍴

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In This Issue:

Featured Wellness Message: Reset Your Eating for 2023

Recommended Resource: A Gift for You: A Guided Meditation

My Psychology Today Article: Is Holiday Eating Causing You Stress?

My Featured Post: To Improve Your Eating, Flex Your Mindfulness Muscle

Reset Your Eating for 2023

woman in blue cap and red sleeveless dress

It's January, and who isn't thinking about establishing a better relationship with our eating habits? Typically, when we survey what we can be doing better in the year ahead, our thoughts land on dieting. Which is understandable, given that diets are cleverly marketed as the ultimate easy solution.

But since there are mountains of evidence that show that diets don't work and even cause weight gain, I invite you to look beyond your eating behaviors to the triggers underlying those behaviors.

Here are some scenarios to consider:

When you are feeling stressed, do you turn to food for comfort?When you are feeling sad, isolated, misunderstood, or any uncomfortable emotion, do you eat as a way to escape what you're feeling, even if you already ate a satisfying meal?When you are feeling helpless or out of control, do you start an intensive fitness program or diet that offers the fantasy of control or power?

If any of these scenarios resonates with you, consider that food is not the culprit. Dealing with chronic stress and trying to suppress or escape your emotions can lead to relationship troubles and problems with sleeping and health, interfere in a positive gut-brain connection, and cause disordered eating. These responses will not only exhaust you, they will make it almost impossible for you to tune into the hunger and fullness cues necessary for intentional eating.

Rather than start a diet this year, here's what you can do instead:

Start a self-care routine.Overhaul your coping tool kit.Lean into difficult emotions—they will pass.Try new stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation (see this month's Resource, below).Be kind to yourself, even in your self-talk.

Your relationship to food and fitness can improve dramatically over time—no diet necessary!

Happy new year! Wishing you an abundance of light and love in 2023.

Dr. Gia

"Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary." —Fred Rogers

A Gift for You: A Guided Meditation

One of the most helpful ways to de-stress, find calm, and resist an urge to cope with a difficult emotion in a maladaptive manner (such as binge eating or starting a new diet), is to practice becoming aware of your thoughts.

This practice takes effort and isn't easy at first, since you'll be starting to notice the thoughts that are used to having free rein in your mind. As you observe the chatter, you may find that you are experiencing what's known as the negativity bias—focusing on negative thoughts and filtering out positive ones. Fortunately, the negativity bias can fade. Eventually, you can learn to sit with thoughts without acting on them. You can nonjudgmentally watch thoughts come and go without attaching an emotion to them or reacting impulsively. Not only that, you can choose to cultivate neutral and positive thoughts that can balance out the negative ones.

This ten-minute meditation can be a start. It is a simple introduction to learning how to be mindful of your thoughts, starting with being mindful of your breath. This meditation can be practiced at any time, in any place, so long as you are safe and feel comfortable doing so.

The more you practice, the more you can see the benefits.​

Is Holiday Eating Causing You Stress?

Make a resolution to start recovery if you have an eating disorder

Many times, an eating disorder comes on slowly and without awareness, causing a person to think they’re just picky or have rigid habits around food. This thinking can be especially prevalent during the holidays when gatherings are centered around food and eating rituals. But denying the risk posed by an eating disorder can be dangerous—for some people, an eating disorder can lead to hopelessness and even be fatal.

Yet, only one in four individuals with eating disorders seeks help. Why is that? Recent studies have found some common barriers people with eating disorders often face when seeking help:

Cost of treatmentAccess to treatment through the healthcare systemThe stigma associated with eating disordersDenial of being in need of help or even having an eating disorderThe perception that others won’t understand or be able to help

Overcoming these significant barriers—particularly the last two— early on is important because studies show that the sooner a person can begin treatment, the better the chance of lasting recovery. For a list of a variety of early intervention strategies, read my full Psychology Today article.

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To Improve Your Eating, Flex Your Mindfulness Muscle

Quiet the urge to eat impulsively or mindlessly, or to start a diet

The mind—cluttered by the noise, past traumas, distractions, and rules of the world—can be easily hijacked by an eating disorder. Eating disorders shut down the blossoming of awareness and creativity in the world and in your own life. They make it hard, if not impossible, to distinguish the truest sense of who you are and what you want from the mandates of the eating disorder.

​Mindfulness and meditation can relieve you of those limits by helping you bypass the overpowering thoughts of the eating disorder and tune in to your soulful, deepest voice that endures beneath disordered eating habits. You know this voice already. This true voice of yours has already led you. Think back to all of the times you have known right from wrong, seen and taken opportunities for connections, stayed open to learning and growth, and found strength to rise above obstacles. If you add meditation to your recovery tool kit, you establish a daily time and space dedicated to noticing and expanding your unique strengths, values, and dreams.

With mindful eating, you pay attention to how food looks, smells, and tastes, which slows down the eating process. You can also place your mind’s attention on what is going on inside your body, noticing hunger and fullness cues. Mindful eating can alert you when you have gone too long without food or are eating past the point of fullness. It can also prevent you from emotional eating.

For more about meditation and mindfulness, read the full article on my website. To try a guided meditation, see the Resource offered above.

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