Food is not the enemy.
Though it used to be mine.
It was also comforting when life was just too much. This back n' worth enemy to comfort left me in a perpetual cycle that seemed impossible to climb out of. During a period of severe depression, food was the only joy that I experienced. Food was consistent, it was always there, and it never let me down. And when I ate so much that I was in actual physical pain it would distract me from the emotional pain that I was experiencing. And, that is how I ate my way to 295 pounds.
Now, 130 pounds lighter, as a Wellness Coach, I know that it was never really about the food. Because food is neutral. Because food is food.
Healing my relationship with food came in 5 steps:
1. Awareness. Admitting that I had a complicated relationship with food. Viewing how distorted my relationship with food was from the outside made me stop and go “whoa”. Awareness is also the first step to healing. Once you can view the situation at hand you are able to see how it is affecting your life. In my case, I was stuffing down my emotions with food in an attempt not to feel. Food kept me numb to my pain and to my trauma. I completed my vicious cycle by attempting extremely restrictive diets that were unbalanced and unfulfilling. Such restriction also left me exposed to the pain that I was avoiding.
2. Meditation. Meditation has been one of my greatest tools in transforming how I view food. Yogis have been meditating for years and I love that science has taught on to the many benefits of meditation. I believe since meditation plays a key role on stress levels, sleep, anxiety and strengthening the prefrontal cortex that can be a very effective tool for changing how one views food. I’ve seen it firsthand, myself. Meditation brings you into the present moment allowing you to not only bring awareness to your food choices but to your emotions. Meditation helped me learn to calm my nervous system and learn that it was safe to be in my body. That I didn’t need to continuously avoid being or feeling. With practice, I was able to sit with my emotions and I realized that they were always changing. That nothing is permanent. That even if an emotion peaked it would always dissipate; much like a wave in the ocean.
3. Become your own friend. I practiced self-compassion. You wouldn’t think to be kind to yourself would be so difficult but it’s not something we learn. I actually believe that we unlearn self-kindness. Kristen Neff says “ with self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.” I realized that I would treat a friend of mine going through the same thing drastically different. So I became my own friend. If I fell into emotional eating once again – I would offer myself empathy and compassion with a safe space – instead of beating myself up for eating.
4. Spend time with food. Realize that food can be pleasure but when we’re in an emotional eating binge – I would argue that we’re not really enjoying food at all but bypassing all the pleasure that food can bring. I began to allow myself to express my creativity in the kitchen, to enjoy the process of experimenting with food and recipes and expanding my culinary skills. And to eat food mindfully. Your stomach does not have taste buds, so if you inhale your food – did you really even taste it? Slow down your meal and savour every bite. Explore the textures, flavours and tastes of each bite and CHEW! (Your digestive system will thank you.)
5. Redefine DIET. For many people, the term “diet” makes them squeamish or ready to try the latest trend. But what if there was no “going on a diet” because diet just meant whatever you ate. What if the term “diet” as you know it never existed? What if instead of forcing your body to unrealistic dietary protocols that leave you in an emotional binge every night – you chose foods that made your body feel really good and that was your diet?
What to do next...
Any questions? Leave me a comment below.
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