Updated: Jan 1, 2022
A toxic belief is a long-held belief that is disempowering and tends to provoke shame and a sense of disconnection from Life and other people.
Toxic beliefs can run lives and often slip under the radar because those that hold them have often held them for SO LONG they feel like natural ways of thinking.
I think of toxic beliefs like "bad spells" that we fall into a trance under. Without addressing them, improving or healing your eating habits becomes substantially harder if not, in some cases, impossible.
Positively, identifying certain beliefs and then working to unburden them, gives people far more space and freedom to make great leaps with their eating, health, and body.
Some of the toxic beliefs that can influence health and eating habits are:
I'm not lovable or valuable unless I look a certain way
I have a willpower problem
People with body fat are weak/lazy/disgusting
There's something wrong with me
Caring about health and the body is for superficial people
Food is the enemy
Eating food = weight gain
I can "burn off" bad eating days at the gym
Ouch. I am sure you can feel the negative power behind these beliefs. A good deal of these are intertwined with shame, fear, or confusion. And sadly, they often fuel the very thing a person is trying to avoid.
A woman who is having a rough body image day finds herself feeling panicked. While home, she starts digging into potato chips, and soon finishes the chips and some other snacks in the house. In retrospect she's confused as to whether she's soothing herself or punishing herself. Either way, she feels even worse afterwards and adds fuel to the fire by ruminating on the question, "Why would I do this when I know it will only make me feel worse about myself? What's wrong with me?"
You show up at a party nervous about eating properly or "on plan." Upon seeing all the "off limit" foods, you already feel defeated and fulfill your own eating prophecy by choosing the richest foods and overeating, further strengthening the belief, "See, I have no willpower. I can't trust myself around certain food. Look at what happened...again."
Initially these are tough spells to break. Many people try and correct them by exercising more willpower to do better or simply trying to change their thinking.
This further strengthens the painful cycle as no real level of healing takes place. But healing is totally possible.
I like to think I'm in the spell-breaking business. And the healing concoction is one part nutritional science, one part eating psychology, and one part emotional healing. On my own journey, when I used to focus on nutritional science alone, I had a head full of good information and even made great upgrades to my diet along the way, but felt totally at a loss when different unhealed triggers in my life hit me unexpectedly, and suddenly my eating suffered.
When it comes to improving eating habits, I've noticed we have to learn better nutritional practices, work with the feelings, thoughts, and beliefs that influence our eating, and unburden any wounds we carry with us into adulthood from our younger years that impact our health and eating habits.
I am so strong in my conviction that this is possible for us all.
Happy New Year!
Ready for a deep dive in eating psychology & nutrition? Join me on January 22nd for my 1-Day Workshop.