Welcome back to the 12 Keys to a Healthy Weight. Last week we looked at how to face up to your food cravings to help you learn from them and progress in your recovery. Today we’ll look at why planning is going to be such a key element to your success.
Key #8: Plan to put your recovery first
There’s a slogan that’s widely used in recovery that says, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” I hear from clients all the time about how full their schedules are, and how difficult it is to make healthy nutrition and recovery a priority.
Other people resent plans because they feel constrained by them – they say they want be like “normal people” and have spontaneity around their food choices. If you think about it, though, that’s really a myth. The structure of a plan is what can really give you freedom – to be present in the moment without worrying or wondering how you’re going to manage your next meal(s).
People don’t think twice about scheduling doctor’s appointments and project deadlines in their calendars. They wouldn’t leave those up to chance or memory, so why do that to your nutritional self-care?
Planning ahead to ensure you get enough healthy food at regular intervals means that you’re putting your recovery first. The last thing you ever want to be doing is “scavenging” through the kitchen when you’re hungry, scraping together a meal with whatever you can find.
When someone has an eating disorder, whether compulsive overeating, food addiction, bulimia or anorexia, their food signals are way off and likely have been for many years. It takes much time and effort to rebuild the body’s signals, and during that process it’s necessary to use external cues like schedules and plans.
Over time you’ll likely be able to be more spontaneous with your planning and structure. Instead of planning everything you eat, maybe you’ll only need to plan your trips to the grocery store to make sure you always have the ingredients for healthy meal choices.
The time and energy you put into planning will come back to you ten-fold. When your food is in place, you’ll be able to practice spontaneity in other parts of your life.
To make planning easier and build it as a habit, pair it with another self-care activity you do every day, such as brushing your teeth, writing a gratitude list, or reading a book. Most of my clients find it easiest to do their planning as part of their routine at night before bed.
Here is an affirmation you can use as you develop your planning process:
I choose to be responsible for my health and well-being.
Planning gives people recovering from eating disorders the structure they need, without rigidity. It’s about recognizing that a plan is a template; a tool that’s there to compassionately help, not constrain you. If a plan isn’t working or needs to be adjusted, discuss that with your therapist, dietician or sponsor and make it work for you!
Next week, we’ll look at the importance of being compassionately assertive – both with others and ourselves.