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Episode 51: Changing the Habit


In this episode of the Weight Loss for Food-Lovers podcast, Molly takes stock and asks her listeners to do the same. Where are you and how are you feeling one month into the new year? How’s your goal-setting and self-care? Are you building a healthy relationship with food or feeling powerless, stuck in a familiar cycle that doesn’t serve you? It could be that you’re laboring under the power of habit, but that can be changed!

Molly outlines ways in which to tackle automatic behaviors, starting with more intentionality and consciousness around everyday choices. Go-to patterns can be disrupted, but effort is required. And not just the sort of effort we associate with will power. We are talking here about rewiring the brain, which starts with some emotional spade work and requires an openness to change.

For starters, it’s critical to understand why we get started in the cycle of overeating in the first place. Molly offers some of the most common stumbling blocks. Any one or a combination of several things can ensnare our brains and leave us stuck:

1) Having a feeling of hunger and desire to eat that exceeds our natural body size.

2) Desiring and taking tremendous pleasure from food – beyond just physical enjoyment and satiety – as a source of emotional relief, escape or dopamine.

3) Using food as a way to unwind, numb or cope with boredom and other emotions rather than learning how to experience the feelings.

These defaults can be changed and unhealthy patterns can be broken, but not without doing the work. Molly share strategies for rewiring your brain and establish a more balanced and healthy relationship with food:

1) Change the way you eat. Eating around the clock accustoms the body to constant overconsumption and induces hormonal imbalance, blocking both fat burning and the signals that register satiety so you know when to stop.

2) Change the types of food you eat. Concentrated foods like sugar only generate ever more desire for … more.

3) Change the way you think about food. Explore, understand and transform the ways in which you associate food with comfort, a special treat, “me time.”

4) Change the idea of food as solace. Learn instead to identify and sit with uncomfortable feelings. For many people, this doesn’t come naturally. It’s a process that requires practice.

Introduce new sources of joy to augment the pleasure of eating. It’s not about denying all love of food but rather moderating so it finds its proper place in the spectrum of your well-balanced life. A few substitute habits that worked for Molly: Redirecting her focus from eating to writing, repurposing her passion for food into writing about her passion for food; taking daily walks that feature peace, gratitude, enjoyment of nature and communing with her dog Zion; enjoying a ritual cup of tea, chatting with a friend, a soak in the hot tub under the stars or luxurious scented bath. Provide your brain a more organic (rather than concentrated) path to pleasure, something lovely that your brain will come to register and seek as a reward.

Old habits that do not serve CAN be changed and new ones established. If you’d like help figuring out how to repurpose your relationship with food, contact Molly to set up a free discovery call here.

Topics Covered

· Time for a New Year check-in.

· Knowing what the problem is, but not taking that first important step to get there out of a feeling of powerlessness.

· Rethinking overeating as a habit, a learned behavior that can be changed.

· The River of Misery: There is a space between the way you do things now and making a new habit fully automatic and intuitive. It takes time!

· How automatic behaviors around food take root and perpetuate maladaptive associations.

· Habits can be broken! It’s all about disrupting mental and physiological practices that perpetuate more hunger.

· Specific steps for resetting your eating defaults and taking emotional hunger out of the driver’s seat.

· Creating new habits, new pleasures, to take the place of food and eating.

· The road to self-empowerment requires unwinding old habits that do not serve and substituting others that foster freedom around food. Molly has a plan!

Key Quotes

· “A lot of us believe that we’re the problem; that we’re broken … (and) overeating is just something we do without understanding why it feels so hard to stop.”

· “Habits are simply things that we practice over and over until they become automatic; so well-rehearsed and practiced that they become unconscious.”

· “The primitive part of our brain loves to keep things regular, loves to keep doing the usual things we do over and over again. It likes the sense of safety and ease. So when you change that pattern, there is going to be resistance. That’s totally normal. You have to plan for that.”

· “The River of Misery is the process of instilling a new habit, even when it feels hard and like you don’t want to do it. It doesn’t take forever and not nearly as long as it took to create the habit.”

· “I was stuck … until I finally discovered the solution, which is getting to the reasons I was overeating in the first place.”

· “It was never about the food. It was because of the way my brain was wired, seeking pleasure and wanting to get a reward from concentrated food.”

· “It doesn’t mean you can’t have pleasure. It just means that you have to be deliberate about when you’re eating for pleasure and be thoughtful about it.”

· “When you feel anxious, uncertain, stressed – Instead of instinctively turning to food for relief, you spend some time feeling the feeling. And this takes practice!”

· “You can’t just take the overeating out. You have to layer in new habits so you’re not just left with a void.”

· “You have to repurpose desire so that you’re still experiencing joy and pleasure. It can be with food, just not entirely focused there.”

· “While food gives you instant gratification in the moment, it does not provide long-term relief … You have to tell yourself the truth and unwind the habit.”

Links & Resources

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