When is Saying NO to Food Self-Compassionate?

I’ve been thinking this week about saying no to food. Saying no to the treats that someone offers you at an event, saying no to excess quantities of food during a meal, or even saying no to an entire category of food. 

Most of the diets and eating programs I’ve followed in the past had a strong NO culture. The emphasis was usually on what you COULDN’T or SHOULDN’T eat. 

I’ve since rejected that kind of NO mentality. But I still do say no to food sometimes. 

Saying no can be wise, skillful, and self-compassionate.

Saying no can also be unwise, unskillful, and self-aggressive. 

You are the only person who can know the difference between these two types of no, because it’s about your internal experience. 

The work that we do together in Conscious Eating is all about getting clear for ourselves (and only for ourselves) about which food choices are skillful and unskillful, and what style of eating serves the life you want. 

For example, take this scenario: (which happens to me almost daily) I’m driving home from work at 5pm, and feeling tired. I drive by the usual street of takeout restaurants and contemplate stopping for the heavy, greasy veggie burger and fries that is calling out to me. 

Option 1: I check in with my body and access the body memory of how blerghhhh I felt last time I ate that. I consider the 3 hour view, and know that I have productivity goals for this evening that would not be supported by that food choice. I self-compassionately acknowledge the tiredness and desire for convenience food and stop for Thai food instead, knowing that my body will thank me for eating some vegetables, it will taste yummy, and it will be enough. 

Option 2: I remember that I am focused on weight loss right now and bring to mind the food plan that I’m supposed to be following, and feel frustrated and resistant to that prior commitment. I engage in a mental battle with myself and my cravings, and I expend emotional energy trying to resist the temptation of this “bad” food. I white knuckle my way through the evening and follow my plan even though I really don’t have the energy to cook and continue to feel exhausted for the rest of the evening. 

When you say no to food, is it because you’re acting out of love and care for your body? Or is it because you are caught in a mental story about what’s good/bad/right/wrong and judging yourself harshly? 

What if you could make healthy or unhealthy food choices with ease and joy, forgive yourself when you do act unskillfully, and live in a body that serves your life? 

If you’re interested in building a more empowered and self-compassionate relationship with food, eating, and your body, you can check out our community. We are currently accepting new members, and offer scholarships for those in financial need.

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