Is your helping voice really helping?


You know that little internal conversation you have when staring at the buffet table, open bar or other indulgent food (or beverage) choice?  There’s often opposing voices or thoughts going through our minds such as “it’s not that bad, “or “you know, you really don’t need that…”

You are normal

The good news, you are not crazy if you are hearing voices too! In fact, most of us have an inner helping and sabotaging voice. I think of it as friends versus an accomplice. Our friends help us when we feel down by saying comforting words that are uplifting and encouraging like this exchange with my best friend, Gretchen:

Me: I have a craving to quit my job, eat icing out of a plastic tub, and drink a margarita. Apparently, I’m feeling stressed…
G: Is it weird that we have all the same stress things? LoL
Me: Hahaha no, makes me feel less strange. And probably just confirms the soulmate best friend thing 😛
G: What’s got you so stressed?
Me: It’s the story I’m making up around people canceling or rescheduling last minute (clearly appointments with me don’t matter… Yada yada yada)
G: I’m sorry babe. I know that gets to you. You are amazing and important. Everyone overbooks and overdoes this time of year. That’s all it is.

See how Gretchen affirmed my feelings and gave me a chance to process through my negative thoughts? On the flip side, my thoughtful office mate, Richard, is more of an accomplice. When I told him that I was stressed out and craving sugar and/or booze he offered me animal crackers with icing and a beer or wine from the mini fridge. Not that he was purposely trying to sabotage me! On the surface, it sounds like those external stimulants or numbing agents are the cure to our problems, but we typically feel worse about ourselves after using comfort foods to “feel better.” 

The answer is in you

I can tell you in moments of stress nothing outside of us can make what’s going on inside feel better. Sure, the chocolate may light up some happy hormones in your brain which could temporarily take away the sadness. However, often when we turn to food or a drink to deal with negative feelings those choices cause guilt or shame, which leads to the downward spiral of making more unhealthy choices.

Recently, while speaking with the client, she mentioned when she eats ice cream with her son in the evening or on weekends her sabotaging voice will say “it’s OK, you’ll do better tomorrow.” I asked, “what does your helping voice say in opposition?” She responded, “I tell myself ‘you know you’re already gaining weight and you don’t really want to gain more weight’.”

Did you notice her helping voice sounds super judgmental?

 

Is that helpful?

 

Instead, I asked, if her friend called and explained she was feeling upset and was about to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream “what would you say to a friend you know is trying to lose weight?” She had much more supportive words for her friend that did not include justifying or shaming her choice to eat ice cream.

Food for thought

What kind of stories is you’re sabotaging voice telling you? When do you notice yourself reaching for food or a drink to soothe your negative emotions?

How can you respond to these cravings as a friend instead of an accomplice?

Looking for a friendly dietitian to help you sort out your food cravings? We can help 🙂

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