What to do when all you wanna do is eat.
If you are reading this chances are that having control of your eating may seem like an impossible task. Begin able to stop eating once you have physically had enough or only eating to nourish your body are simply not options.
If you have ever tried to lose weight, you know first hand how hard it can be to try to stop eating when all you want to do is eat. This can be extremely frustrating and disheartening and leave you feeling completely out of control when it comes to food.
You may feel like there is something faulty with you or that it's just bad genes and there is nothing you can do about it. Deep feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can keep you trapped feeling like there is no way out. This can lead you to want to give up trying and learn just to accept things the way they are.
But even in the deepest darkest cave, there is always a way out. Unfortunately, the solutions we are given are not the ones we need, and to really be able to fix the problem, we have to approach the problem from a new direction.
Only once we truly understand what drives us to eat, are we then able to change the behavior. If we are not just eating to simply fuel our body, then we need to go within in and find out why we are eating beyond hunger.
The answer and the solution to this are twofold and can affect us differently and to different degrees.
The need to compulsively eat can be driven by either emotional or chemical factors or both.
When it comes to emotional eating, we now know that childhood trauma can lie at the root of why we use food as an adult to soothe ourselves. For some of us, the wounds we have experienced were evident, such as physical, or sexual abuse. For others, the trauma may have been less apparent such as being bullied at school or perhaps small snide remarks or sarcastic comments made about us.
Although these things may seem less traumatic in comparison to more extreme experiences of abuse; this does not make them any less traumatic in the mind of an individual. Pain and suffering are subjective and based on our own individual experiences and perceptions.
I once dated a guy that always would comment on other women's appearances saying they were fat and ugly. I was also overweight at the time, and some of the women he would point out were equally my size or smaller. Although he never directly negatively commented about my appearance, I felt extremely negative and insecure about my weight, even more so than I already did. I mean if he thought that women smaller than me were fat and ugly, then I must have been disgusting to him.
Clearly, I was in a negative relationship, which I did not realize at the time. But It can be easy to see how, although we may think that we were not directly abused by someone, we still may have been traumatized in some way. This is often seen with media; no one, in particular, is telling us that we are worthless or less than in some way, but when we see a certain standard of what beauty should be, it is easy to feel like we are not enough for not meeting set expectations.
Regardless of the level of trauma, we may have experienced, somewhere along the lines we have witnessed the power of food when it comes to soothing pain.
Now, as adults, we have come to rely on food for more than just nourishment. Food has become our safe haven, trusted confidant, therapist, and comforter in times of need.
Instead of running to our mom for comfort if a child picked on us at school; now when our boss yells at us, we run to the nearest vending machine. A disagreement with a friend, an argument with a partner, trying to cope with a child having a meltdown or feeling lonely and lost in life can send us right into the arms of foods.
If our emotions are driving our need to eat, then how can we take back control and put ourselves back in the driver's seat.
Here are three things to practice that will help shift your current relationship with food.
Ask better questions.
To really begin to change your relationship with food, you need to ask better questions to get to the root of why you are eating in the first place.
Here are a few questions to ask, instead of asking - Why can't I stop eating?
Am I in pain at this moment, if yes, why?
What needs of mine are not being met?
What feelings am I trying to avoid at this moment?
Knowing why you are upset or what you might be trying to avoid is a good place to start and helps you to face and deal with emotions and situations you might otherwise be trying to avoid.
When you seek to find out the why behind your choices and practice asking yourself better questions; you open yourself up to allowing change.
Having compassion for yourself allows you to enter a healing space. When you can love and care for yourself without shame, guilt, or judgment. You open yourself up to being vulnerable, making room for healing to occur.
It is so important to practice seeing yourself without shame for your past actions or choices. Shame and compassion cannot co-exist, you must let go of the guilt and shame for compassion to enter your life.
Judgments only arise when you feel you have not met a certain expectation. By removing the word 'should' from your vocabulary, you begin to release the need to BE a particular something.
Once the judgment is removed, then there is no need to feel shame.
This process takes time but is crucial to mending your relationship with yourself and food.
Practice alternative ways to self soothe.
When you find yourself in a triggered emotional state, and your mind starts searching for the closest thing to eat. First, remember to seek to find out why you feel the drive to eat; anger, loneliness, sadness, etc. Next, see if you can do something else to meet that need.
There are lots of ways to soothe without using food, it's a matter of finding new techniques that work for you and your needs.
The best thing to do right away when you find yourself triggered emotionally is to remove yourself from the person or situation as quickly as possible. Giving yourself space allows you to be able to think and better respond to your feelings and needs rather than just reacting and eating without thinking.
Here are some things you can do to replace eating.
Go for a walk.
Find a spot to sit alone in nature.
Treat yourself to a self-care item, e.g., buy a face mask or new nail polish.
Read an uplifting book.
Pray or meditate.
Have a hot bath.
Wrap up in a blanket and have a nap.
Write in a journal.
Listen to music.
Watch a comedian.
Call a friend.
Change doesn't happen overnight, and real healing requires patience and plenty of self-discovery. This is not about finding quick fixes, but about healing and making shifts that lead to lasting changes.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the blog, some drives to eat come from a chemical source, meaning that there is a physical addiction behind the need to compulsively eat. Next week I will take a closer look into the reasons behind that and how you can override it.
I can't stress enough how important it is to find support on this journey of yours.
Surrounding yourself with others that understand and or have been where you are; can be comforting and inspiring in times of need.
This is why I created the Food Over Mood Facebook Group, and I encourage you to join and be apart of a heart-centered support group for women just like yourself that struggle with weight loss, emotional eating, and food addiction.
If you are looking to take the next step in your journey and want to know more about how coaching can help fast track you towards ultimate food freedom; Click here to learn more.
I love hearing from you guys. Let me know below in the comments your thoughts.
Love and Wellness