Why do we eat? Seems obvious, but sometimes it’s hard to be really honest about the answer.

Biologically, eating provides our body with energy and nutrients. But of course we eat for lots of other reasons. Boredom. Pleasure. Strong emotions. Politeness. Tradition. Convenience. We don’t want to “waste.” I’ll bet you can add more.

And not one of these reasons is bad or wrong. They’re smart solutions, actually. Food is really good at solving problems, especially since the marketers and processing people lasered in on our natural cravings. The saltiness, sweetness, softness, creaminess, crunchiness feel oh so good, right when a dose of good can feel like a lifeline.

The problem, as you know, is when solving an immediate problem causes a bigger one. Maybe you feel crummy after, gain weight, or suffer from a tirade of self-criticism. A lot of my work is about shining some daylight on the reasons we eat, so there’s space to shift to more direct solutions that work better short and long term.

Let go of the fight. Willpower and threats won’t get you there – You v. You doesn’t work and it’s sure no fun.

Listen. When you reach for food, take just one breath, ask one question, and open your awareness so you can hear the answer. No judgement, no bullying – just be curious and listen. “How am I feeling?” Check in with your body, your mind and your emotions for the honest answers.

Choose. Based on what you learned, is it food that’ll serve you best? Is it the food you’re reaching for? Are you bored? Angry? Lonely? Are you in a depravation mindset – have you recently declared any rules around food? That’s a sure trigger to want to eat a lot. Notice that you have choices. Not good and bad ones, just choices, so go ahead and make one.

Love, love, love. Imagine if you said out loud to anyone besides yourself the things you think about your eating and your body. You wouldn’t! But the automatic and even casual negativity we allow in our own heads gets enormous – we think we deserve it, or that it keeps us in line or protects us somehow. But I promise, it doesn’t. Catch yourself and shift from judgement and control to love and acceptance. Find something to praise or forgive. The part of you that wants cake isn’t bad, it’s honest and real and has something to teach you. Your beautiful legs and arms and butt and abs work for you all day, allowing you to live your life. Don’t love or hate them for how they look or feel. Say thank you, with love.