Charlie Cory asked:
time you were a child, you might have been a people pleaser. You tried to top your schoolwork in order to win your parents’ approval…you trained at soccer for hours on end to win a vote of support from your coach…or you meticulously practiced your piano chords in order to win the appreciation of your music tutor. In general terms, there is nothing wrong with trying to please. It can make you a valued leader, a respected friend, a reassuring teacher. Nevertheless, it should be acknowledged that some food addictions begin with an failure to say no.
The question is, when might it have all began? Maybe it was during a celebration dinner in your childhood when your parents asked if you wanted a second helpings. Or maybe a teacher at your elementary school might have given you a gold star if you cleared your plate of food. You were almost certainly taught that it is wrong to throw away food and that a healthy appetite was a good thing to have. The problem is, such cues from your upbringing might have caused you to learn the wrong lessons when it came to food consumption.
In our culture, many people have trouble saying no. Everyone wants to be part of their peer group and they don’t want to stand out for not taking part. They will do all they can to mix in and that leads them to say “yes” more times than they’d like to, or ought to. In fact, the plague of alcohol and drug abuse may be due in part to the refusal of many people to simply say no.
To admit that you have a problem over committing yourself is probably the first step to dealing with the problem. It shows that you have a great deal of understanding into your own troubles with food and you want to change your bad lifestyle and swap them with better ones. But this can be difficult, knowing the fact that so many families have a number of rituals concerning food. Also, unlike cigarettes or marijuana, food is not thought of as intrinsically bad; nor should it be. Nevertheless, you need to learn how to use food effectively.
Part of your education begins with understanding the power of no or no thank you. You need to begin to assert yourself, to acknowledge the fact that you do not have to go along with other people in order to get along with them. You grasp that you are doing yourself no favors by eating second helpings of pasta, when in fact, you could be doing your body a great deal of damage. The key now is to finally do something about it.
What’s the best way to undertake assertiveness instruction? One method you can use is that of role-playing. Practice saying “no” to additional servings with the help of a friend playing the role of antagonist. In this “make believe” state, you may feel more at ease saying no. You must also learn that saying no isn’t actually going to be the end of life as you know it; that you will not suddenly lose all of your friends by taking a “negative” standpoint.
Another ploy you might use is making sure that you do not slump while sitting at the table for your meals. Slouching indicates defeat-a conviction that a situation is impossible. With your head held high you will acquire the self-confidence you need to say no; and to mean it.
Yet another successful approach is to keep a diary recording your thoughts after you’ve said no; either to more food or to a promise you just can’t cope with at this time. Putting your thoughts in words can be quite therapeutic. It can also help you with problem-solving, enabling you to figure out ways that you can say no without hurting another person’s feelings.
Something else you will need to learn is that it is not necessary for you to realize another person’s expectations. In other words, whether your Aunt Mary thinks you’re eating enough actually doesn’t matter. If you realize that you are overweight, Aunt Mary’s view shouldn’t be taken into account. You must do what you think is the best technique in order to take control of your eating habits. Assertiveness will not happen straight away. But, with practice, you can learn to say no like a professional. And you and your waistline will be better off as a direct result of what you have learned.