After you have identified your relationship with food, it is important to identify your thoughts and beliefs about food. In order to do this you must first pay attention to what goes on in your head when it comes to food. Everyone has what is called automatic thinking. It is the self-talk that occurs in your mind as a response to a situation. It can happen so fast that you never notice it, but believe that it is there. In order to change your thoughts about food you must first know how you think about food.
It might sound simple or it might sound impossible, fortunately, it really is the former instead of the latter. It just feels like the latter because it sounds overwhelming to have to find some "hidden" thoughts you didn't even know you had. The good news is that once you are aware that they are there, they become easier to find.
Start by paying attention to the inner dialogue that occurs in your head before you eat or when you even think about eating. It is a good idea to keep a log but if that is a deal breaker for you then you don't absolutely have to, it is most important to start paying attention. So, when you find yourself in the kitchen getting ready to dive into a candy bar, bag of chips, leftovers, etc, ask yourself. Why am I making this particular food choice?
Then start really exploring the answer by asking more probing questions that explore motivations, hunger, and feelings. Here are some examples:
Am I really hungry? How do I feel right now? What do I hope to get from eating this? What was happening before I started thinking about food? Could something else be influencing my decision to eat right now?
Those are merely a few suggestions intended to spark the creation of questions appropriate to you and particular thoughts, feelings, and situations.
Sometimes when people eat they are not even hungry, they are experiencing something else and they hope food will fix it. Is that what you think about food automatically? If you do, you are not alone. There is an epidemic that is occurring in this nation. Food is used for almost every purpose people can think of while least often it is used for its intended purpose: nourishing the body.
People use food for recreation, to alleviate boredom, to escape from their feelings, and even sometimes for punishment. These are just some of the many reasons people use food, what are your reasons? You may or may not know the answer to that question. Exploring how you think and what you believe about food will help you to better answer that any many other pertinent food related questions.
While stopping and taking a moment to identify your thoughts surrounding food, also look at your belief system. Beliefs are ideas/opinions that you hold about various aspects of life that have a direct effect on thoughts and behaviors. Your beliefs about food started to be shaped when you were very young. While your experiences since then may have helped to change your beliefs, their development began in the beginning of your life and were influenced by those around you, including your parents.
It is possible that as you explore your thoughts and beliefs about food that will discover some things you never knew and maybe some you did. You may have one or both parents that were emotional eaters and you grew up believing that food is the best comforter. Or maybe food was very restricted and it developed beliefs that food is something to feel guilty or shame about. Or maybe in your family everything revolved around food so you believe that emotions are best expressed by food. These are just a few of the many possible beliefs about food that might be shaping your relationship with food.
Spend some time really exploring the beliefs you hold about food and the thoughts that are shaped by them. This step is imperative to changing your relationship with food forever. You cannot change unhealthy beliefs or thinking if you don't know what they are, right? Don't worry about changing your thoughts at this point, just start becoming more aware of them. As you become aware of your thoughts, it actually helps them to slow down, which is extremely useful for the change process. So take your time and just do some exploring right now. Your hard work will pay off in the end.