MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 11 OF 28
The more work I do on staying in my body and being willing to feel the emotions that come up, the more I become aware of just how often I’ve been leaving it over the last two decades. There was a complete disconnect and as a result I have been shutting off so many of the clues that it has been trying to give me about how to take care of myself. It’s no wonder I’ve spent so long trying to control food and my weight. I have never trusted my body to give me signals because I have very rarely lived in it. At some point years ago, I learned that eating would take the edge off. If I was stressed it would comfort me. If I was tired it would soothe me. If I was sad it would distract me. And by all means, it works... temporarily, but the feelings eventually return in a bigger and stronger way, and the cycle repeats itself.
feel discomfort… eat… temporary soothing… discomfort returns + guilt + shame… eat… temporary soothing… (and the cycle goes on)
I eat a very clean diet. I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t eat grains, dairy, sugar (except for the natural sugars found in vegetables and fruit), or processed foods. Ever. If the way our body looked was 100% about what we ate, I would be a flawless vision of health. But it’s not.
I still soothe with food. In the past it might have been chips and ice cream, today it's typically roasted nuts and sweet potatoes. You can keep weight on while eating this way. While eating “perfectly”. It’s not ALL about the food. The food is incredibly important, but it’s by no means the whole picture.
Here’s the catch… if you are eating to soothe emotional hunger, the chances are high that you are eating too much. If you are not eating intuitively from a place of physical hunger and the need for nourishment and nutrients that your body is asking for (I promise it's asking, we just have a hard time listening and trusting) then it’s important to ask what you’re eating for.
I had an experience last night that I thought worth sharing. I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed at everything I “had to get done", and I wanted nothing more than to grab the salty roasted cashews from my cupboard, and eat them mindlessly in bed by the handful while browsing the internet. In the past, when these urges to compulsively eat came through I’d distract myself for as long as I could until the craving went away, but in most cases it didn’t. I’d essentially just postpone the eating until I’d finally cave. Last night I did something different. I stayed in my body instead of disconnecting. I closed my eyes, got quiet, and paid attention to what the emotional energy was doing (this process, though common sense to many, is a completely new and unfamiliar behavior for me). I went in and out of myself, not trying to label any feelings or make sense of them, but rather just observe. And eventually, I stuck with it long enough and was willing to feel long enough, that I shed a few tears. Which is a BIG accomplishment for me. I reminded myself that it didn’t matter where the tears came from. I’m new at this and all I’m asking myself to do is observe at this point. And when they were done, when that emotional energy had been let out, even if just the tiniest bit, the miracle occurred. Two hours of feeling so strongly pulled to eat. Two hours of thinking about binging on sugar and chips or at the very least the salted cashews that had been summoning me… and just like that… a few tears… and the desire to eat was completely gone.
This was a small but incredibly meaningful victory for me. I felt like an attorney who just got the evidence that proves their case after two decades of trials. I have proof that those strong overpowering cravings to eat are about the feelings. And I have even more proof that when we feel them, deal with them properly, that the urge to eat disappears. The excess weight is about the feelings. The answers are in the feelings. The feelings are our compass. We spend our whole life bolting from them and as it turns out, staying with them is the answer. We just have to be brave enough to do so.