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It's easy for us to blame food when we are making poor choices, or say we have addictions to food, or that we are out of control with food. And even easier to blame our body when it gains weight, or doesn't look the way we want it to. We think it's fighting against us.
What I have learned through my years-long struggle with food and body image issues, is that both are blameless. I only blamed them because I wasn't looking deeper at what was driving me to eat the food and hate my body. I had to start to take responsibility for my actions and behaviors, and that meant looking at what was behind my need to set food rules, and what was behind my emotional eating, and all the other crazy ideas I had in my head about food and my body. Food was just the symptom of something else going on that I wasn't ready to face.
How often have you said to yourself, "I will never eat [insert "bad," "unhealthy" food] again," or "I will start over tomorrow and be "good?" Those two lines were famous in my vocabulary for years. I started over a million times, and I swore I would never eat cupcakes again for as long as I was alive. But that just kept me stuck in the vicious cycle with food and my weight, and I NEVER kept those empty promises to myself.
The truth is; our issues with food have NOTHING to do with the food.
In today's VLOG, direct from my Facebook LIVE training, I offer 2 strategies you can use to start to take responsibility for yourself, and to stop blaming the food and your body. These strategies will help you to take a step back, and to begin to relate to food and your body in a different way so you can be more of a "normal" eater.
Binge eating is a mystery to many of us, and it's hard to understand why we actually do it. What is it that drives us to overeat and binge on food until we feel sick, ashamed and at the end of our rope?
One of my current clients who has struggled with binge eating most of her life, never understood why she couldn't heal even though she sought help from multiple therapists, nutritionists and organizations. During her binges, she would feel completely out of control and like she couldn't stop. She would binge all day long, not just at night, or in mini-sessions. She would overeat in massive quantities, all the foods that have been on her forbidden list for years, like bread, tortillas, chips, etc.
These foods were not allowable in her eyes, and they were "evil," because ultimately they would lead to weight gain, ill-health or she had heard from some "expert" along the way, that these foods were "BAD," and she needed to cut them out of her life.
As we dug deeper into her eating patterns and this out of control feeling with food, I would often ask her, "What's beneath the binge?" In other words, what's driving your binge eating? And it was always difficult for her to answer, but she knew that was where the real healing would happen.
This question, for many of my clients, often stops them in their tracks, and leaves them speechless, and it did with her too. She is the reason why I am writing this blog, because she suggested it so I can help others who struggle in this area too.
The question is something most people never consider, or think of. They've always blamed the food, or their bodies or chalked it up to addiction, and never took into account that it could be something outside of the food that was responsible for the binges.
Food, it turns out, is usually the symptom of something deeper that we are not addressing. I know this can be a hard pill to swallow for many, because isn't it easier to blame the food for our issues? Well, maybe, but that won't solve anything or help you understand WHY you are bingeing and what is driving it. It also will do nothing to help you shift your relationship to food and heal.
Binge eating is often a by-product of restriction and dieting. It can also be linked to other areas in your life such as relationships, money, career, sexuality and more. Often times when we are not living our authentic truth, food can be an escape to that. It's a way to fill a void, if you will. When I was bingeing regularly, it was due to feelings of loneliness, being unsafe in the world, and uncertainty.
Being raised in a violent household created tons of uncertainty and feelings of being out of control. Food became my safe haven. The place I could go to get comfort in any given moment, and feel like I had control over something, even though I ended up feeling worse afterward. It was a vicious cycle for years but I didn't know how to change it.
When I started to get curious about what was underneath my binge eating, I started to heal and shift my relationship to myself, which led to shifting my relationship with food. It's not an easy road, but it's one that is worth traveling because ultimately it leads to freedom. Awareness will always be the first step in healing, and then comes the action.
Below I am sharing a few of the powerful actions I took to bring awareness to my binge eating and ultimately heal it.
The first step to getting to the core of your eating issues is to be curious about them and bring awareness to the patterns. It's common to immediately go into judging ourselves and feeling guilty about what we ate, or the binge we had. Studies have been shown that as humans, we are wired for negativity and it's easy to spiral down into a well of negative thoughts. Judging yourself will never help anything and it will continue to ingrain the pattern even further.
When you get strong cravings or find yourself obsessing about food, take the time to pause, take a breath and then check in with yourself. Once you pause, you can ask the following questions to bring awareness to your patterns:
What am I really craving right now? What is that I am looking for food to give me other than nourishment? What am I avoiding? Why do I want to binge? What would a binge solve in this moment?
Start here and see what comes up. You might want to spend a few minutes writing it out and just dumping these thoughts on paper to interrupt the pattern. Remember, awareness is the first step.
Dieting is the number one culprit to binge eating AND emotional eating. Any time you restrict yourself, there will be a pendulum swing to the other side, guaranteed. I know we are taught that in order to lose weight, we must diet, but what that does is keeps us stuck in the dieting mindset, which will keep us in a food prison.
I understand that the idea of letting go of dieting can bring about feelings of being out of control, but what it also does is sends the message to our body that we don't trust it. Your body has it's own innate wisdom, and wants to be balanced and healthy. Unfortunately, our society doesn't support that and it's almost the cultural norm to be on a diet these days.
I believe that whatever we control, ends up controlling us. Control is an illusion, pure and simple. One thing to always remember is that you have a CHOICE. When you can start to let go of dieting, and remember that you have a choice, then you will begin to heal even further.
There is no ONE perfect diet for anyone, and that mindset will keep you spiraling. Constantly searching for the perfect way of eating will keep you on edge, and in continued obsessive food thoughts.
Instead start to tune in to your body to see what feels good for it. After you eat, notice any physical sensations you have, or emotional reactions. Make a note of these, as they will start to give you information on why you struggle and binge.
In my Food Freedom LIVE Group Program, we use a tool called Food/Mood Tracking where the participants will write down what they eat and how they felt before and after they ate. They will even tune in to see if there was a trigger present for their eating like stress, feeling tired, sadness, etc. This is a powerful process that attunes them to their body and emotions. The key is to track the food without judgement and to use it as a tool to uncover your patterns. Give it a try and see what you notice.
One thing I learned about myself in the journey of healing my binge eating was that I wore many masks. I was constantly hiding who I was, worrying about what others thought of me and trying to please everyone. This resulted in major feelings of resentment, loneliness and NEVER feeling good enough. Which ultimately led me to a box of licorice and bag of oreos.
I wanted people to see me in a certain light, and to think that I had it all together when in truth I was struggling inside. I look back on photos of myself when I was deep in my food struggles and I have a big old fake smile on my face. But no one knew it was fake, I was pretending everything was A-OK but the truth was, I was in a world of pain and battling internally with myself, my body and food on a daily.
When I started to get real, to say what I felt, and to stop worrying about what others thought of me, my food issues started to wane. The pull toward food became less powerful and I started to feel more empowered and aligned in my life.
Showing ourselves to the world can be scary, because we are taught that vulnerability is weak. But what I have learned through my journey, is that vulnerability is strength. Being vulnerable, speaking my truth and standing in my power has resulted in so much richness in my life. I have zero desire to hide anymore, and because of that, I no longer find myself wanting to binge, mindlessly eat or numb out with food.
Start small, and share with people you trust that are in your inner circle. Get honest about your struggles, and let people know you need their support. I guarantee a HUGE weight will be lifted off your shoulders.
Binge eating is something many Americans are faced with daily, and the feelings of shame, disappointment and self-criticism can be overwhelming. By implementing these 3 keys, you will be taking steps toward your deeper healing, and getting to the core of what is beneath your binge. The key is to practice patience and be consistent with taking action in the moment to break old patterns.
When it comes to accepting your body, do you need some serious help? What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see a body you like and accept? Or do you pick it apart and criticize every little thing you want to change about it? I'm guessing it's the latter.
A large majority of people, particularly women, do not like what they see in the mirror. In fact, they downright HATE what they see in the mirror. I would've included myself in that majority up until about 5 years ago.
Now, I'm not saying that I always LOVE what I see in the mirror, but the difference is that I have come to learn to appreciate what I see, instead of hate it, criticize it or pick it apart.
For years, I had this crazy morning "ritual" where as soon as I woke up and got out of bed, I would walk to the bathroom, pull my shirt up, look in the mirror and see how big (or flat) my stomach was. It was my Morning Fat Check.
If I was dieting or depriving myself, or I had started some new meal plan or fat burner, I would check to see how much weight I was losing, or if any of the pudge had miraculously disappeared overnight.
If was off the rails with my food, which happened more often than not, I would lift my shirt, stare at my bloated belly, pinch my love handles and curse myself. Then I would swear to start over and "be good" for the rest of the week.
I would start to make the running list in my head of all the foods I had to stay away from, and make a promise that I would only eat salad for the next 10 days and nothing else.
It was exhausting, and seriously detrimental to my well-being AND self-esteem.
I truly hated what I saw every time I looked in the mirror. It didn't matter if I was thinner than the day prior, or not. I would criticize, poke, pinch, prod and shake my head in disgust. This was the way I started every single day for years, so you can imagine how I entered into the day feeling about myself.
Sometimes I would end up on the floor in a ball of tears when I was trying to get dressed for work. Other days, I felt on top of the world, because my stomach looked flat that morning, and I was convinced that whatever I was doing was FINALLY working, and I was a rock-star. But that didn't last long, because I would eventually overeat and break that big lofty promise I made to myself, yet again.
Basically the Morning Fat Check set the entire mood of my day into motion. Most of the time, it resulted in a SHITTY one (excuse my French) of devastation, feeling like a failure and riddled with shame and disappointment.
The big turning point for me was the day I called a close friend of mine for support. I was in tears about how fat I felt. I hated the way I felt in my skin. I was gaining weight and felt puffy, bloated and defeated. And I was out of control with my eating. I was looking for someone to be in the trenches with me; to feel my pain.
But what I got instead was a hefty dose of tough love. The words my friend said in that moment stung me, but they were the catalyst to me deeply healing the years long battle with food and my body,
After she waited for me to finish whining and complaining, she calmly said, "I'm sorry you feel this way and you are struggling, but this obsession with your body and weight is SO self-absorbed. GO OUT and BE OF SERVICE. STOP feeling sorry for yourself, get off the couch, get outside and make a difference in someone else's day that needs you."
BAM! It was like a stinging slap in the face, but it was just what I needed to hear. Those words set a series of events into motion that dramatically transformed the way I see myself, and my body to this very day.
So, here are a few of the steps I took in order to learn to come into acceptance with my body, and stop hating myself. This change didn't happen overnight, but I was committed to the process. It required patience, consistency and a tremendous amount of courage.
The first thing I did was give up the Morning Fat Check and I stopped looking in the mirror so much. As hard as this was to break, it was a huge part of my healing process.
Beating my body up and criticizing it first thing in the morning, left me feeling depressed, angry and defeated. No matter what I did, it was never enough.
And the crazy thing is, weight can fluctuate anywhere from 2-7 pounds within a given day depending on circumstances, so I never knew what it was going to be from day to day and that created even more uncertainty and feelings of failure.
So, I vowed to stop lifting my shirt, looking in the mirror and stepping on the scale first thing in the morning. I even threw my scale away!
At first, I had a huge fear of getting out of control if I wasn't constantly checking my weight or size. Because how would I gauge if I was getting skinny or not? How would I know what to feel about myself that day and if I was reaching the goals I had set to lose weight?
But, what started to happen, as I let go of the constant slew of externally focused, self-deprecating comments and lifting my shirt each day, was that I started to focus on the amazing other qualities I had and how I felt from the inside.
This was a powerful practice for me in body acceptance. Once I gave up my Morning Fat Check, and started to focus on how I felt internally, it prompted me to truly feel connected to the miracle of my body.
As a nutritionist, yoga teacher and former massage therapist, I have studied a lot about the body. I understand a lot about the anatomy of it, and what foods are good for it, etc. but I always treated my body as a separate entity. I was disconnected from it, and felt it to be a burden.
I hated that it wouldn't listen to me, or drop the weight I wanted it to, when I wanted it to. I felt like my body was constantly betraying me and I was in a constant battle with it.
Each day I committed to writing down and/or saying three things to my body that I appreciated about it. I focused on it's strength, health, and all the little intricacies of my body that I often don't think about because they run on auto-pilot, literally.
This practice alone helped me to create such a deep appreciation and honoring of my body that I didn't want to say mean things to it anymore. And
the funny thing is, after a while, my clothes started to fit looser. Go figure.
As I mentioned in step two above, I was in a constant battle with my body and completely disconnected from it. By practicing the daily appreciation of my body, I was also able to attune to it more.
I started to pay closer attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle signals that my body would give me. After I ate, I would notice how I felt in my body, not what my mind thought about what I ate (which was usually full of judgement, by the way.)
This would help me feel connected, and be able to give my body what it needed. I stopped listening to the craziness in my mind, and the outside world, and starting listening to the wisdom of my very own body.
This usually looked like resting more often, not working out as hard, or pushing as hard and doing a whole lot less than I was used to. I relaxed more, and ate less because I was paying attention to my satisfaction cues. I slowed down at meals and enjoyed what I was eating. I was getting fuller quicker and didn't overeat as I normally would when I was distracted.
All of this led to me feeling so much more at home in my body. I would check in and see what type of movement would feel good instead of what I think I should do (to lose weight.). Some days it was yoga, some days it was hiking, others it was weight lifting.
My body appreciated this. And it started to change. It didn't happen overnight, it was a journey, but one that has been so empowering and transformative.
Not only was I implementing these steps on a daily basis, I was also doing some further personal growth work to look at my skewed relationship with food. Although it's all connected, I had to dig deeper to get to the core of some of my eating behaviors.
These 3 key elements mentioned above were the most powerful and truly helped me come to an incredible acceptance of my body, which resulted in my body normalizing to it's natural weight over time.
So, I'm curious; How do you feel when you look in the mirror? What has been your experience with your body? Do you feel accepting of your body? Or do you loathe it and fight against it? 'd love to hear your thoughts and comments below.
Emotional eating is something many of us do, without being aware of it. It is the number one culprit to weight gain, and can keep us stuck in a vicious cycle with food.
It can also leave us feeling like a failure when it comes to healthy eating and “staying on track.” Any time you eat without being physically hungry, it’s usually for an emotional reason. These emotional reasons could be boredom, loneliness, anger, needing comfort or soothing, or just wanting to numb out. There are many others, but these are the main triggers.
Eating during times of transition can be a big trigger for emotional eating as well. Especially when we are transitioning to the evening after dinner and life slows down and quiets down. This is a time where we want to feel comforted after a long, stressful day at work or with the kids.
And although we can have good intentions, those good intentions often turn into a whole pint of ice cream on the couch while binge-watching Netflix. Identifying if you are an emotional eater is actually simple. Ask yourself how often you eat when you are NOT physically hungry.
If it’s more than 30% of the time, then that is a pretty good indicator that you turn to food to soothe yourself.
In this video below, which I created shortly after the election when a lot of people were turning to food to cope, I share my top 2 tips on how to overcome emotional eating, and what to do in the moments when you feel like you might spiral out of control with food. I also share ways in which you can identify triggers for emotional eating.
When you find yourself going toward food and wanting to eat, especially if it’s during a transition time (after work, after dinner) STOP and ask yourself if you are physically hungry.
If the answer is YES, then make a choice that will nourish you and feel good for your body.
If the answer is NO, then take a pause and ask yourself what you are feeling. Wait for the answer before you grab food. If you are tired, bored, stressed, lonely, etc, then move on to Tip #2.
Once you can connect with what you are feeling, then you can take an alternate, nourishing action by asking yourself what you need.
What do I need right now?
If you are lonely, call a friend. If you are sad, let yourself feel your sadness. If you are bored, find something that feels fulfilling and nourishing, not numbing. If you are tired, rest or go to bed. If you feel angry, put on some upbeat music and dance it out.
The main key is to attune to your body and your emotions and see what you need. It may be hard for you to know at first, but the more you do this, the more you will be able to understand what you are feeling and what you can do to feel better in the moment.
Start to practice these 2 tips immediately and see what unfolds.
If you want to go even further and learn more ways you can overcome emotional eating, click the link below to download my Food Freedom Guide for FREE!Click here to get the guide today!