I love horses. I don’t have any now but I spent most of my adult life as a horse owner. I learned a lot about horses and about me and what I’ve learned can be applied to different areas of my life such as food, eating and weight management.Horses are big animals; they outweigh me by many hundreds of pounds. They have hard hooves and large, sharp teeth and powerful jaws. Handling horses can be dangerous because they can bite, kick with powerful hind legs or strike with front legs. Yes, horses are big and they can hurt you!
Riding, driving and even grooming horses can be dangerous. Horses can run away with riders or buggies. They can dump riders and drivers by bucking, lunging, rearing, stopping suddenly, or making a quick, sharp turn. They may do these things purposely to get rid of a human or they may do them because they feel very good or very threatened and scared. Horses are also smarter than we give them credit for being; they know how to crowd humans in corners of stalls and some swing their large heads as weapons. There are risks being around horses.
I understand the risks. I know how to minimize my chances for getting hurt when I’m around or on a horse. I respect horses, their strength, and how they think and defend themselves. I take precautions to avoid getting hurt, but realize that due the unpredictable nature of horses I can’t be completely safe around them. I don’t want to exclude them from my life to ensure no horse will ever cause me bodily harm. I’ve received a few bangs and bumps from horses, nothing serious and usually through some fault of my own. These bruises serve as a reminder for me to stay careful and alert.
Some people are afraid of horses yet they like them. They want to be around horses yet it makes them fear for their bodily safety and thus fear the animal. Their fear interferes with their ability to be safe near them. Instead of respecting horses and learning how to handle them in a manner that calms a horse, they try to hide their fear. They try to cover it by showing the horse “who’s boss.” It’s a form of bullying a horse and it doesn’t work. They upset horses. Upset horses hurt people and the potential for a very serious injury is greater.
Handling food is similar to handling a horse!
Struggling with weight can make people fear for their body around food. Some people are taught to fear food and the very teaching manifests the weight problems. Others have a weight problem first and then believe that it’s because that food makes them lose control. The bigger the weight problem, often the bigger the fear of food becomes. People who are afraid of food still love food. They want to eat food and they are at a disadvantage when it comes to controlling balance and moderation; there is no balance and moderation. In their minds food has the potential to cause great damage to their body, but they want it, indeed, need it!
It’s true that some foods are very high in calories. A small serving of some foods may contribute all the calories your body needs for a full day – maybe even more than it will burn on a given day. Some foods don’t have much nutritional value, especially when compared to its high calorie content. Some foods have been proven in research to have adverse affects on some people’s health when eaten in large quantities or as a mainstay of one’s diet. Some foods taste so good that even though there is no more room in your stomach for more, it’s hard to stop eating until it’s all gone. These foods can be loved and can be eaten as part of a healthy diet, but must be respected and handled carefully.
The fear of certain foods can be overcome. The first step is to believe that food adds pleasure to your life. Believe that any food can be enjoyed in balance and moderation. It’s a matter of respecting the food and learning how to safely handle it. Confidence and some basic strategies for “safe eating” are key. Believe! Build confidence in small steps by putting these strategies into practice.
1. Approach meals, snacks and food in general with “calm confidence.” Positive self-talk is an effective way to stay clam and confident – “Food is good. I can eat what I like in balance and moderation.”
2. Avoid getting too hungry. It’s easier to eat slower and stop before eating too much if you eat when you are not overly hungry.
3. Use portion control. It may help to start eating harder to manage foods away from home where you cannot get seconds or more. Stick to a planned portion.
4. Ask for support. Don’t ask your family to be your food police. Ask them to give you positive statements about your ability to eat (any food you want) in balance and moderation. A simple, “You’re doing great!” is extremely powerful.
5. Accept mistakes as learning opportunities. They’re nothing more than the little “bruises from which you gain insight into what not to repeat.” You can’t fail but you will learn that sometimes it will take more than one try to get it right.