“I can’t trust myself with food.”
This is something I hear a lot from women who book my 40-minute assessment calls.
They’re talking to me because they are struggling with their eating and have lost faith in their ability to make good choices, stop eating when they’re full, or to even think about food in a positive and healthy way.
Today I’m going to lay out why you’ve lost this trust in yourself, what it means for your emotional eating, and some easy ways you can start to build more self-trust.
Why you don’t trust yourself
Because you keep promising yourself you’ll do impossible things.
For example, you promise yourself (AGAIN) that you’ll stop overeating – but you don’t have any plans in place or understanding of WHY you’re eating like that in the first place. Your mistaking ‘control’ for ‘trust’. And when you inevitably ‘fail’ because you didn’t have the tools or support you need, you blame yourself and decide that you’ve broken your promise and therefore obviously can’t trust yourself with food.
You’re also taught not to trust yourself. You’re told to:
- count calories because you can’t trust your hunger signals
- weigh yourself because you can’t trust how your body feels
- take medication because you can’t trust your emotions
I’ve fallen for all this and more – and I STILL struggle with trusting myself to handle big emotions – and it has had a huge impact on how I ate.
What does self-trust have to do with emotional eating?
Fear and restriction lead to comfort and stress eating.
Which makes sense – your body doesn’t know the difference between an internal ‘I’m worried I’ll eat the whole chocolate cake’ stress and an external “I’m about to be eaten by a lion” stress. It’s all the same to your brain, hormones, and digestion, and when it goes on long-term makes you want to drown yourself in pints of ice cream for a moment of relaxation.
Fear and suspicion drown out your inner guiding voice.
Lauren Fowler says it perfectly
“Trusting your[self] opens the door to fulfillment beyond food. You can learn how to satisfy you true desires for comfort, connection with others or yourself, pleasure, rest, freedom, openness, expression…”
If you’re constantly made to feel small, and scared of your ‘out of control’ eating, then you’re never going to be able to really hear what’s going on inside. This means you live a smaller life than you deserve, and often eat to fill that hole.
Vicious cycle, anyone?
If you’re convinced you can’t trust yourself, you become that person. You “promise” yourself you won’t eat the whole box of chocolates while simultaneously “knowing” you will.
So, of course, you eat them all.
It’s almost like telling yourself you’re untrustworthy gives you permission. Guilty, shameful, and full of regret – but it’s there. If you simply believed you could trust yourself, that permission disappears.
Don’t get me wrong, this is in no way a blame game – but taking responsibility for where your own mind leads you is a decisive step towards trusting yourself.
3 places to start with self-trust + food
Basically: You can trust yourself.
The way your eating is 100% a reflection of your inner state and wellbeing and your inner ‘you’ is doing the best it can to look after you. You’re eating the way you are for a reason.
Not weakness, not a lack of willpower, and certainly not because you’re untrustworthy. The real key is to discover the ‘whys’ underneath your eating and then learning to respectfully work with them in non-food ways.
This totally takes trust out of the equation and it just becomes an act of self-care. Which is a crazy powerful place to be working from.
So, how can you start to get there?
- Do a self-trust fall. Like those team building exercises, but solo. Take a break from your ‘rules’ around food for just one day and instead take 3-5 deep breaths before eating ANYTHING. See what happens. Terrified? It’s just one day and I’ll bet you’ve got your own back a whole lot more than you may think.
- Ditch the scales for a week. Instead, do a quick head to toe inventory of how your body feels – what does it want, where does it feel good, what would bring you body-joy today?
- Stop the negative self-talk. If you think something like: “I can’t have chocolate, I’ll just eat it all”, choose to reframe this into something like: “I’m choosing not to have chocolate right now” or “I’m choosing to have 4 squares of chocolate, it’ll be great!”. Stop telling yourself you can’t be trusted, and start talking to yourself like the awesome and empowered lady you are.
Ok, and because I love you, here’s a bonus 4th step:
So you ate the entire pan of brownies you made for the kids – it’s a mistake not a commentary on your goodness, moralness, intelligence, or worth. You ate it for a very good reason (even if you don’t quite know what that is right now).
You’re doing your best and no matter where you’re at on your journey, mistakes will happen. Embrace them, probe them, learn from them… thank them even. Then, move on and simply keep going creating your awesome life.
These are all things you can start practicing at any time – and they do take practice. Be gentle, go slow, and let the self-trust take root and grow.
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