Follow these 3 steps to start making real progress
So, you may have come to a point in your journey with an intimate understanding of what has happened and why but something is still holding you back and stopping you breaking free 100%.
There is one main reason why you may not have been able to get your subconscious mind in agreement with your desires to resolve your food struggles.
The conscious and subconscious minds speak a different language
1. The language of the conscious mind is “thinking”: logic, analysing, and intellectual reasoning.
2. The language of the subconscious mind is “feeling”: sensory experience- feelings and images and associations.
An example of an association is when you smell freshly cut grass or hear a song from years ago and you instantly get a certain feeling or emotion. That smell or sound has become associated with that emotion in your brain. Again, this has nothing to do with logic. It could be a happy song that makes you feel sad.
It’s the same with your food struggles. Your brain has created an association between food and certain emotions e.g. stress, boredom, feeling overwhelmed or out of control.
So, trying to influence your subconscious mind using conscious logic and analysing your behaviours, thoughts and feelings may not be totally effective. The subconscious mind does not understand logic or reasoning, it is much more primitive than that. It acts and goes on feelings which it thinks are a threat and responds in survival mode.
Your behaviours around food are being driven by your subconscious mind based on its survival instincts. It has mistakenly associated certain feelings with food which It now sees as a threat!
You sabotage yourself because you are hardwired to try and meet your subconscious needs using your conscious, logical mind. To rewire your subconscious, you must learn to influence the subconscious using it’s language.
Remember there is nothing wrong with you, you are not broken, nor do you need to be fixed. Your brain has just made some wrong decisions and associations in the past.
How can I overcome this subconscious sabotaging?
Step 1. Work out what your subconscious gains from your food behaviours
Now although you may feel that there is NOTHING to gain from your struggles with food your subconscious mind thinks differently. It reacts in survival mode, having made a mistake in its understanding of food as a threat!
What I want you to read aloud to yourself is; behind every problem is always a positive intention.
Yes, even your:
Unhealthy food habits
Food is one of the most common ways we find to help us regulate our emotions; to move us away from threat and towards reward. Along with food, some people use drink, drugs, exercise, sex….
For example, you may binge on food, or starve yourself to escape emotional pain (stress/boredom) and moved towards emotional reward (relaxation/calm). With enough repetition your brain learns that food is the most rapid, reliable and effective way to get this sense of release. Eventually this is stored in your subconscious mind.
There is always something that your subconscious mind is gaining from your unwanted food behaviours.
What is your unconscious mind gaining? What are your food struggles giving you?
We are going to play a word association game. Stick good things about your food struggles in one column and bad things about your food struggles in the other column. Just write down in each column the first thing that comes into your mind. Alternate between each column, one thing at a time.
Good things about my Food Struggles Bad thing about my Food Struggles
What is in the bad thing column are the long-term consequences; which do not drive your behaviour.
What you can see from the good thing column is what your unconscious mind is gaining from your food struggles. This is driving your emotional connection to food.
Now ask yourself; “how else can I bring about these ‘good things’ without turning to food?” Start to write a list.
Step 2. Change your language from ‘thinking’ to ‘feeling’
Remember the subconscious mind does not understand logic, analysing and reasoning. It does understand image, feelings and other senses such as hearing, smell, taste.
Your brain reacts the same to ‘don’t look at the spider behind you’ as it does to ‘look at the spider behind you’. Even though one sentence has ‘don’t’ in it, both sentences still make your brain focus on the spider. The same is true of ‘I will restrict my food today’ or ‘I will not restrict my food today’. Again, both sentences make you think about the same thing even though one has the word ‘not’ in it.
You need to start to talk to yourself in a brand-new way about your food struggles.
Here is a list of the types of words to remove from your vocabluarly:
If you feel this logical language creeping into your self-talk, imagine shouting STOP in your mind as loud as you possibly can.
Then re-focus your mind on positive senses only!
Even if you tell yourself; “I will never relapse again”, “I must eat more tomorrow”, this is still strengthening your food behaviours in your subconscious mind. Instead you can focus on the feelings of being in control, feeling calm as you go about your day and seeing forgiveness and feel yourself let go of past behaviours.
Remember what feelings or senses your subconscious mind gets from your food behaviours (from step 1) and focus on things you can do in your day that bring you those positive feelings (aside from food). This will help to break the association with food and strengthen these connections to other positive things in your subconscious mind.
STEP 3. Embodiment & Mental Rehearsal
So, you have understood what your unconscious mind is gaining from your food behaviours and have started to build new associations with things aside from food. You have also changed your food language from thinking to positive feelings and senses.
Now it is time for a bit of brain training. You know that your subconscious understands images, but it also cannot tell the different between what is real and what is made up!
If you know you have trigger situations or before every mealtime, spend 5 mins visualising and embodying how you would like the meal or situation to go.
Ask yourself this question; “who would I be if………
I ate in a slow, controlled manner and enjoyed every single bite
I could sit and eat my dinner, without any feelings of shame or guilt.
I was able to finish my meal and actually enjoy it
I ate something I used to think was scary and feel proud of myself after
As you answer your question, visualise every little detail; what you are wearing, how you are walking, how you are eating, what you are seeing around you, who else is there, what you are talking about, what good feelings you are experiencing, how you feel afterwards and what you would believe about yourself.
The purpose of this is to really associate into that mental picture, see what you would see, hear what you would hear and feel everything you would feel as if you were that person.
So, you know now that your food issues do not mean that you are broken or flawed, you’re subconscious mind has just made a mistake! I hope these strategies will help you to become more aware of when you are being sabotaged and help you to start to influence your subconscious.
Want to know more about the approach and steps you need to take to break free from your food issues once and for all? Sign up for the next UNLEASHED workshop:
Hope to see you there
Until next time,