You know one of the things your compulsive part of your brain hates most?
Now for a bit of what might seem like unpalatable truth – and my job is to make it a bit easier to swallow.
Here it is:
Structure can be your best friend if you get to know it (a bit like Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy - who cannot stand each other when they meet, but change their minds over time).
Now here’s the bit that will make it more accessible for you as a recovering compulsive:
For any sort of structure to work for you, it must obey The Goldilocks Principle.
You may have heard that the earth is sometimes called The Goldilocks Planet. This means that it is neither too hot nor too cold for life to exist, just as the only porridge that Goldilocks could eat was the one that was neither too hot nor too cold.
The Goldilocks Principle states that for something to work, it must not be too extreme. Not everything in life obeys this principle, but it is vital when it comes to structuring your day.
Especially in lockdown.
You see, the extremes of too much or too little structure are a disaster for your compulsive brain.
Too much, and you enter into a parent-child dynamic with diet and exercise where you punish and deprive yourself. Pleasure is verboten, and that toxic shame you have been carrying for far too long is put on a pedestal. Extreme structure might feel activating and motivating, but this is nothing more than the fool’s gold of escaping yourself – another hallmark of the compulsive.
You know how that strategy ends – with your Inner Food Rebel staging a military coup to reclaim your birthright to experience pleasure.
Too little structure is where your Inner Food Rebel is given too much power. You binge with abandon, and devour what feels like the entire dessert aisle of the supermarket. You reclaim your pleasure – but at the cost of your self esteem. It’s all out of control and a breeding ground for that toxic shame.
The only solution – you think – is to return to too much structure, one imposed by Whole 30 or any other pleasure-destroying regime.
What we are going to replace this hideous seesaw with is Goldilocks Structure
The Two Magic Ingredients
There are two magic ingredients in The Goldilocks Structure
These two factors act like Valium on your Inner Food Rebel, so that your best self gets a chance to make structure work, and so escape the exhausting war going on between your toxic shame and your Inner Food Rebel
#1 – The Staircase Approach
Just try a bit to prove to Inner Food rebel that the change is not a threat. This is best done conciously, shifting your resistance away from the lies you have always told yourself (it's just too hard; I don't like rules etc) to coaxing a fearful child to dip their toe in the water at the seaside.
The key is to have challenge - but not too much. Then, like a toddler climbing their first flight of stairs, once you tackle the first step, you can do the next one.
#2 – Lack of Commitment
Experiment and 'date the change'.
See this page on dating your meals for more information