Observe without emotion

Posted by Jennifer Campoli on February 25th, 2011
Filed under intuitive eating, My Journey to health, Nutrition | 1 Comment »

I was introduced to an idea that has become very powerful not only in my life but also in many of my clients.

The idea? To observe without emotion.

When I learned about observing without emotion I was sitting in Nancy Clark’s office last October. I guess you could say I was having a bit of a food relapse. For the past two months I had been snuck back into the world of dieting and excessive exercise.

Yes. I am a proclaimed intuitive eater who is human and still struggles.

I had come across Nancy’s work and was thrilled to learn that she lived in the Boston area. A sports nutritionist who happens to have a niche with intuitive eating. I knew we had to meet.

My first session with Nancy was full of learning and reminders of what I already knew:

  • diets don’t work. Ever.
  • you are over training and your body is demanding rest
  • you are bingeing as a result of excessive rules and demands around food
  • you are under eating and setting your body up for deprivation by noon time

After discussing food choices, exercise routine and goals, Nancy introduced this idea to me.

Observe without emotion.

Each day we make a collection of choices: when to wake up, what to wear, what to eat, how to call, what projects to attend to, who to see. Many of these choices we make without thinking. Routine, normalcy. But some choices we sit with, we wonder about, we worry about. Some choices we assign emotion to.

In the world of health, the media has shown us the “goods” and “bads” of food and health. Food is labeled, exercise is labeled. Just about everything has a good or bad label. Processed, fake, fattening, carb laden, high protein, calorie heavy, genetically engineered, antioxidant, clean. To name a few. Throw in a dose of weight struggle, body image struggle and you are set up for not only a world full of labels but a world of confusion surrounding food.

Nancy and I discussed how much of my daily emotion and experiences were assigned to food. When I am in a dieting mentality, everything about food is emotional. Whether I do good, whether I don’t, whether I messed up, whether I binged.

The range of emotion is large but a few are more prevalent:

guilt. shame. frustration.

To be perfectly honest, everyday involves one of all of those emotions when I make food decisions.

So Nancy said “it’s time to begin playing around with observing food without emotion!”

Simply observe. Be curious. Open your mind to “learning” rather than judging.

Huh. Look at that!

Such a simple way to go about my choices! Could this really work?

I had walked into her room with such overwhelm that I was trying to diet again, experiencing binges and beating my body down once again. And I left her room with an enormous sense of relief. No prescriptions. No do this and avoid that. Just one idea to experiment with.

And so I did. Each day I began to ask questions: What’s going on here, why am I feeling that way, why do I want to eat that, why did I eat that. Observations with no emotion, no judgement, no right or wrong. Just a chance to learn about who I am and where my choices come from.

I suddenly stopped worrying about what to do next. I stopped ending a meal with regret if it didn’t “look” the way I wanted it to. I once again let go of the pressure to be, to do, or to eat a certain way. I realized that often I was reaching for food because I told myself that healthy eating didn't include x, y or z. I realized that I needed to find a way to include x, y and z in my world without excess. As an intuitive eater, I need to have a bit of everything in my world. I realized that applying any level of restriction around food leads to bingeing or last supper eating. While I may have "known" all of this before talking with Nancy, using the idea of observing without emotion allowed me to really understand my behavior and where it came from.

I created space again in my life for what makes me ME. Because struggles with food, body and health crowd out so much in our mind.

So what do you think about this idea. Do you observe without emotion or with emotion?

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One Response to “Observe without emotion”

  1. […] life coach, Jenn, and I have talked at length about the idea of observing without emotion — a topic she recently blogged about […]

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