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When I begin working with new clients and I hear from them that they have tried every diet known to man with no “success,” I always know there is something deeper happening than their desire to lose weight. Of course their desire is valid, but usually it’s not just about the weight that they are carrying and they want to shed. They’ve struggled with yo-yo dieting and cleansing and many other avenues that they thought would get them healthy and lean, but they ended up back where they started or even further back.
The reason I became so interested in food and nutrition, is because I have struggled most of my life with emotional eating and a distorted body image. I must say, it hasn’t been an easy road at all and I have done so much work around deeper healing and looking into why I have this “issue”. Some days I have intense feelings that keep me up late into the night obsessing over the bag of rice chips I ate, or the ½ pint of coconut ice cream that I downed when I wasn’t even hungry. I can also tend to obsess over body image issues…that my jeans are tighter today than they were yesterday, or my belly is not as flat as it was the day before, or if every calorie I put in my mouth is going to make me fat. These times come much less frequent these days and I am not going to say that I have totally healed, but I have definitely dug into deeper parts of myself to see what is running these parts of me and learned how to give myself what I really need in those moments to move through them much more gracefully than in the past.
Eating is something we need to do to stay alive. It’s not like other addictions where we can give up said substance and still survive, even though it may feel like we are going to die without it. Food is our nourishment, our vitality, our life. If we don’t know how to relate to food and our bodies in a healthy way, then we will have issues with weight, overeating, under-eating and so much more. I think you get the picture.
Our emotions and feelings play such a big role in our lives. It’s so important to look deeper into these feelings we have around our body, eating and food as they will give us messages of what our bodies and our souls really need. It’s not about the next quick fix diet, or cleanse or fast. It’s about really going inward and asking your body what it needs, or asking your soul what it needs and most of the time that answer is – Love.
Loving ourselves is such a huge part of learning how to live with emotional eating. I don’t think this “addiction” ever fully goes away, but the more we learn to love ourselves, the more this little, or big, monster will calm down and take the proverbial back seat. I know that some of you may be thinking that you are not ready to look at what it is that is driving your overeating, or emotional food choices or body image obsession, but I am here to tell you that the only way out of this, is through this.
If you struggle with any of the things that I have mentioned, seek out help with a professional, start to write in a journal, begin to really get in touch with “WHEN you are eating, WHY you are eating and WHAT you are eating.” Start to notice what you put in your mouth and why. Is your body really hungry or are your emotions screaming out to you for something else? Are you craving love, attention and affection? If so, how can you give this to yourself? Maybe you could call a friend, or stop and take a few deep breaths – whatever it is that will help you really tune into what is going on internally, before you fill your mouth with an unhealthy food that will not nourish you in any way except to feed your “in the moment” craving for something else bigger.
Begin to really notice those moments when you have a craving and see if you can stop, take a breath and check in with yourself. Do you really want that sugary donut, bag of chips or chocolate bar? Or do you really want a hug from someone? So many of our food cravings are brought about by memories of comfort when we were kids. So it’s normal to want certain foods if we are feeling down or sad, but the wise thing to do in a situation like this is to skip the food and find a way to comfort yourself. I know this sounds strange, but the love we give to ourselves and feel for ourselves is the most important love of all. So where and how can you start to love yourself more so that you don’t become slave to your emotional eating, which can lead to extra pounds, depression, shame and self-loathing?
Just one small, positive action can start to break the cycle…what will yours be?