The Quick Fix For Your Struggle With Eating? Patience.

20 years to construct Chateau de Chambord,
Loire Valley, France
I know you’re impatient. Everyone’s impatient—you are not alone. We want change to have already happened. And we want to be done with the struggle of eating—eating enough, not eating too much, eating just right. We want to be free of the rules and the thoughts, but are reluctant to invest the effort and time to enable it to happen. We make change, but it never seems good enough, and when it seems to be going along just fine, we fear we’ll slip up—and maybe we do. Quick fixes allure us, offering such promise. But this is not about quick fixes.

I’d like to wave my magic wand and make it all better. I do have a magic wand, but I’m saving it for when all hope is lost. And really we haven’t reached that place.

I’ve never built a house, but this analogy has crossed my mind many times. And you know once something is in my thoughts it’s challenging for me not to share!

Railroad house, Swiss Alps

Consider building your house

It starts with the foundation, which needs to be rock solid, firmly planted. Poured concrete, perhaps, definitely strong—at least after it has had some time to cure, to dry and set. And you’ve got to wait for that.

You could slap together some shoddy construction and it could look just fine on the outside—at least for some time. It may appear attractive at first, but with the first storm the siding may fall off, and the paint may begin to chip. The damage begins.

Restorations may take even longer. There’s some necessary destruction of the existing structure, which precedes the new construction, the rebuilding. And you have to pick and choose what you want to keep and what you’d like to discard in this new dwelling.

Such is the case of building a healthy relationship with food.
It takes time. After all, it took a long time to get into the mess you’re in now. And it takes a solid conviction that change needs to happen—because you believe in the need for change, not just your doctor, or your husband or your mother.

Return to trusting your hunger and your body’s ability to self regulate, if that was a part of your history, if you had once had a normal relationship with food. Remember how charming the old wallpaper looked and how comfortable it felt being in that space? Wasn’t it nice to be able to eat a couple of cookies or a piece of cake, without the negative self talk?

Or, was there never a normal relationship with food?  Was it always a relationship of shoulds and rules? Did you never feel safe listening to your internal cues? No feng shui when looking at the wall colors of the past rooms? Sure, it’s more challenging restoring, having never followed your internal compass—getting rid of the old thoughts and habits, and redirecting toward healthier behaviors.

Discarding old beliefs and unhealthy views requires some trust that your house will still be able to stand, without the supports of unhealthy rituals and black and white thoughts. The new pieces of information get tried on, sampled, then permanently attached, as you see their value and beauty.

You need to be able to weather challenges. Stressors, like strong winds and snow, can knock you down. But the more solidly you have set your foundation, the less damage will occur. For instance, keep structure to your day’s eating versus skipping meals. You’ll feel less vulnerable and therefore better able to handle the stressors. And remain fixed in the belief that yes, you are worth it, you do deserve to feel well, to take care of yourself, to eat. These are your cement.
It may take some time for these foundational principles to set, but adding supports can help.

Actually, he's a Swiss Alps goat farmer, but whatever!
Who are your craftsmen? Those who you select to labor on this building with you, whom you rely on to direct your project and provide a vision?

Select a team of with experience—your MD, therapist, RD. And surround yourself with laborers that have the same vision and can support your project, not pro-Ana sites, or diet programs failing to address your behaviors and thoughts.  Contract with friends and bloggers who can assist you in getting the building done, and can support your repairs as soon as they need to happen.

Building this chateau (Chenonceau) over water 
must have required great vision.

Quick fixes, like sloppy construction are destructive. I’ll just restrict now (and deny my hunger), just for this week, she told me, or just until the holidays, he stated. It’s like leaving off the insulation and expecting you’ll still stay warm. Okay, perhaps not so bad at first. But then the pipes freeze, and then burst, and now you’re left with major water damage and repairs to be done. After restricting, you may eat more than you intended, and then purge, or continue to restrict. Now your signals get confused, and distinguishing hunger and fullness is a challenge. Trust is lost, and your ability to self regulate. Never mind the damage to your body, your emotional state, and your belief in yourself. The thermostat stops working.

But it can be repaired

This medieval castle in Carcassonne, France was partially
reconstructed. Turned out well, no?
Repairs? Yes! Because slips happen (a new bumper sticker, perhaps?) Over time, damage may occur—a tree may come crashing into your house, a window may need replacing. Slips are a normal part of maintenance. But wait too long to work on quality repairs and soon the wiring will also be affected, or the cost of getting the work done will be too great. I can’t miss work to do an eating disorder program, can I? Or I don’t have time to see my nutritionist and my therapist regularly!

Don't hike up Peyrepretuse, in France, unless
your house is solid.

Remember, it gets way more costly putting off construction and renovation of your house. Consider starting now, from the ground up. Gather your team, and start pouring your foundation. And take the first steps to drafting your blueprints for a better relationship with food.

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