You’ve got your new dietary protocol, a brand new food list that will hopefully NOT end up on the pile of unsuccessful dietary changes you’ve tried in the past, and you’re in the supermarket. Hopeful, excited, full of anticipation for the gorgeous meals you’re going to create from this new information about your very own personalised dietary protocol. You’re not just shopping for yourself, because you’ve got family you usually shop for and eat with. So you’ve got your “other” shopping list with you too.
New food list, check. Regular shopping list, check. Trolley and you’re off.
The things you’d put in that trolley are usually quite routine, mindless and like clockwork. But now there’s this new element, a bit of excitement, this new food list. Hmmm. There are limits again. Is it exciting? I don’t know … boundaries. Healthy boundaries. Remember they’re healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries healthy boundaries healthy boundaries. Just get this shopping done!
You don’t need to get everything on your new food list you just need a few things you can make up into meals for yourself. You can do this right?
Internal dialogue gets a little shouty …
Why can’t I just eat what they eat? Well you know what happens when you do that don’t you? But mmmmm potatoes, they’re so good. Plus they’re a vegetable. And pasta – I’m Italian, did I remember to tell her I’m Italian and that we have to have pasta?
Oooooo cashews, they’re alright aren’t they? Oh shoot, they’re not on the list. What the heck is wrong with cashews? I’ll have to ask when I see Kimmi again – that doesn’t make sense, they’re supposed to be healthy. Maybe she made a mistake. Oh gosh, what will I snack on? Wait, she said something about not snacking …. Crap. I’ll check the treatment plan when I get home.
Mmmmmm blackberries! I love those little guys! I can eat those instead of cashews while I’m cooking dinner! Wait, there’s no berries on here at all!! Oh, ok. So no cashews and no berries. Jeez. I’m getting hungry just thinking about all the things I can’t eat. Can I do this? Is it going to be worth it? Surely food won’t make that much difference.
Better stop at the bottle shop on the way home – I feel wine o’clock coming on! Is wine on my list????? Ugh, how long does this diet last for?
I wonder if any of this is resonating with you?
You get everything home with some sadness and despondency lingering around you. This is going to be harder than you thought. You didn’t realise that making these kinds of changes were going to trigger such an emotional and draining response – you are butting up against your emotional relationship with food here. You are face to face with the entertainment factor that food can provide, the numbing it can provide, the escape from feelings that might feel overwhelming.
Preparing meals for yourself you find that you keep thinking about what you used to include, those items that are not on your food list, and another wave of sadness rolls over you. It’s important to make space for these waves of feelings around food changes – giving it some room to flex while sticking to your protocol at the same time is healthy and part of the process of change. Giving those feelings some space to exist helps the process and helps you to move towards acceptance and some joy over your food choices – ignoring your feelings here gives them power to derail you and keep you stuck in that sad space.
You may even be butting up against leptin – which is often elevated in women with lipoedema. Leptin resistance is a strong appetite driver and makes it almost impossible to resist food cravings for “hyperpalatable” foods. Hyperpalatable foods are foods that you cannot resist if they’re in your vicinity (I think you’ve read that and you know EXACTLY which foods fall into that category for you as an individual). It’s almost impossible to not overeat them.
Trying to navigate a new dietary protocol with leptin resistance is going to be difficult, but WE CAN DO HARD THINGS. If you have lipoedema and have a treatment plan from me, I’ve already factored in the likelihood of you having leptin resistance and following the protocol I’ve given you will, over time, reduce your leptin resistance. But you still have some hard work to do with navigating change and cravings. There’s no getting around that and ignoring this will derail you.
There have been a lot of little conversations I’ve had with myself over dietary changes so I think I have some idea of how you’re feeling and how it goes.
I’m reasonably well known for sticking to the food changes I decide to make, and sometimes I wonder if people think it might be easy for me. I want you to know it’s not easy for me. Not at all.
It’s exhausting and it makes my eyes roll into the back of my head. It makes me angry and uncomfortable that I have to make so many changes to keep working for the health I want so badly. I go through these same conversations (and more) and I feel the same feelings you do. I have the same internal negotiations and anxiety over whether I really need to go this far or not, over how can this be sustainable, over the sadness and exhaustion that dietary changes can stir up.
I don’t stick to my food choices because I’m a strong and empowered woman, nor do I find it easy. I stick to them because I know without a shadow of a doubt that my food choices change the way my body shows up and my body needs all the help it can get. I stick to my food choices because I know when I’m triggered in the way I’ve described, I know I get a chance to heal something, to know myself better, to enjoy my life more fully.
7 strategies to help get through the stages of grief associated with making food changes:
- See your “triggers” or emotional events as opportunities to heal. Pay close attention to your internal dialogue. These moments in time truly aren’t meant to make us hate the world or our bodies because we need to eat a healthier diet so that our body has a better chance of showing up well. All that eye-rolling and sighing and despondency and irritation CAN BE healing. We can heal via these kinds of moments that are uncomfortable.
- Rather than agonising over the things that aren’t on your food list, get REALLY HAPPY about the things that ARE. It’s going to be tempting to skip over this part, but if you will take this seriously you’re more than halfway there to making positive changes. When you decide to be happy about those food items, idea will come pouring towards you about how you can make the list work.
- Eat a decent meal before you go shopping – we’ve all heard this one before, but it really works so well. Hungry people make poor food choices.
- Plan a few days’ worth of meals for yourself and write those on the regular shopping list so that you don’t have two lists. You don’t need to write a recipe book for this, just keep it simple with a few things you know will work for you.
- Make it easy to make helpful food choices by doing some food prep, and by keeping those items at the front of your fridge and pantry so they are easy to see and GET REALLY HAPPY ABOUT. Flood your eyes with all those gorgeous choices you have. When you linger over foods that are not helpful to your body and health goals, negativity can settle in.
- Think about what kinds of foods that can be central at every meal so that you don’t need to make an entirely separate meal for yourself – that can feel a bit lonely when you’re at the beginning of making big dietary changes. Protein would be one of those items – everybody needs good quality protein at every meal!
- Let yourself really feel those stages of grief. Expect your emotions and thoughts to rise up and if you can, find a way to welcome them. Be ok about not being ok, it’s a lot to manage. Cry if you need to, complain a bit. Be grumpy. But don’t let that go on for very long. Make space for some self-compassion because this, THIS, is where your hard work is. And then, put your big girl pants on and make your food choices work for you.
If you need a follow up to chat about meal assembly ideas with your food list, book one in!