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Filtering by Tag: comfort eating

Food as Love

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 25 OF 28

I can very easily get in the habit of confusing eating as relaxing. I will work all day and then immediately reach for something when I get home in an effort to relax, but food doesn’t make you relax. It just distracts you for some time and takes you away from having to “do”. Whenever we reach for food when we’re not hungry, it is to satisfy something emotional. But if you’re tired, food cannot make you rested. If you’re lonely, food cannot give you company. If you’re sad, food cannot make you feel better. It may seem that way in the moment but what it’s really doing is distracting you. Numbing you just enough to turn your mind away from the tiredness or loneliness or sadness and tricking you into thinking it was the solution. But then the time passes and you’re left with the same emotion you were ignoring, now with an added layer of guilt or shame for eating way more than you needed to eat.  It’s a vicious cycle and one that I’ve been trapped in for my entire life. I’m working really hard to break it. To sit with my feelings and go through them. To pay attention to physical hunger versus the emotional type. I fail a lot. I eat a lot. But I’m getting better each day. 

A Few Tears and No Cashews

Danika Brysha

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.  

Emotional Intelligence + Feelings Timers

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 10 OF 28

I’m doing a lot of work in terms of reconnecting with the process of feeling my feelings. Emotional Intelligence is defined as “ the ability of individuals to recognize their own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior”. And as it turns out, I’m not so great at, well, any of that. 

 

When I first noticed that I was eating for reasons other than physical hunger, I began my journey into understanding the power of emotional “hunger”. I knew there was more to the way I was using food than just to fuel my physical body. Food is the mechanism that I have used to soothe any discomfort for as long as I can remember. And using food in this way has lead me to carry a little bit of extra weight. Also for as long as I can remember.

 

For a long time I assumed it was WHAT I was eating that was causing this and so I spent the first decade and a half of my life dieting. Controlling and manipulating my food in order to solve the “weight problem”. But when I finally got to the point that I was eating such a clean healthy diet 100% of the time and STILL keeping on weight, it occurred to me that there was something more. That perhaps food was just the “pill". It temporarily numbed the pain, but it did nothing to solve what was at the root of the problem. 

 

Through a lot of my journaling and introspection, I realized that I had created a very solid habit of using food as comfort. Eating to take the edge off. Stuffing down feelings because I didn’t know how to deal with them. 

 

Fast forward to today and I’m not doing a lot of deep work in order to reprogram myself to not just feel my feelings but to label them and eventually use them in a constructive way (hint: eating them away is DEstructive).  The hardest thing for me has been remembering to check in. I’ve spent most of my life separate from my body, not wanting to feel, so I’m like a child re-learning a basic human behavior now. 

 

In order to learn how to properly deal with my emotions, the first step is to create awareness around the fact that they are occurring and so I have set alarms to remind myself, every hour, to take a few moments and feel. To put words to the sensations in my body and to pay attention to where my emotional energy is located.

 

And though I have my moments of wondering if ignorance might in fact be bliss, there’s just something deep inside me that knows there is something really important on the other side of this self work. And I will practice and make progress, even in the tiniest amounts. And I shall start with awareness. 

Things That Have Been in my Mouth: Ginger-Garlic-Cashew-Dijon-Jalapeno Dressing

Danika Brysha

Another delicious meal has driven me straight to the blogosphere. I was craving a salad for lunch (that sentence was about as recognizable as Arabic for me a few years ago) and I was somewhat bored of my usual olive oil-balsamic-salt-pepper dressing.  I'm traveling to Costa Rica in a few days for a yoga retreat so I'm holding off on going grocery shopping and trying to make use of what I already have in my fridge.  Enter this new salad dressing concoction! And it is DELISH! My mom didn't really cook much growing up- leave it to me to point this out on MOTHERS DAY- but really, she didn't.  We were always on the go so I ate a lot of fast food- pizza, McDonalds, bagels, Taco Bell.  As a result I never really learned how to cook.  As I got older and started caring much more about what went into my body, I was forced to teach myself... and honestly it is super easy. The number one concern I get from people wanting to eat healthier is that they think they can't cook.  I promise you, you can.  Pick a recipe, cook it, and then you can forever use it as a starting point to make your own varieties and mix up flavors and ingredients.

I've been eating super clean for over four months now and essentially follow the Whole30 program, which is quite similar to Paleo.  My diet consists of organic fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, and meat that is hormone/antibiotic free and properly fed/raised, and healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, and raw nuts. If it doesn't fall into one of those categories, I don't eat it.  Period.  I've learned so much about our food industry and I think that we desperately need to get away from all the processed foods, chemicals, and added sugars we are filling ourselves with these days. I don't count calories, fat, or really anything. I eat when I'm hungry and I try not to when I'm not. Four and a half months later, 30lbs lighter, and more vibrant, happy, and energetic than I've been in my entire life- I am living proof of how powerful nutrition can be.  Food is most certainly the best medicine. And I am most certainly in this for life.

I often miss those creamy Caesar and Ranch dressings that I used to eat before I realized what was in them, and I've found the secret ingredient to get back that comforting consistency without the poison.  Cashews!!

Ginger-Garlic-Cashew-Dijon-Jalapeno Dressing Recipe (Paleo, Whole30, and Life-Friendly)- Makes about 4 portions for meal-sized salads

1-3 Organic Garlic Cloves (I'd aim for 1, I used 3 and the Garlic was a little overpowering)

1 1/2 tsps Organic crushed Ginger

1 small jalapeño pepper chopped- seeds/center removed

1/2 cup soaked raw cashews- You must soak these or the dressing won't have the same consistency- Just cover them in water and soak for about 6 hours... or if you're me three weeks because I forgot about them.  I recommend making a double batch so you can use them for other things

3 tbsp Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

3 tbsp Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp Dijon Mustard

Salt, Pepper, and Red Chili Peppers to Taste

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor, magic bullet, or whatever fancy apparatus you have that I can't afford. Store excess in a glass jar or tupperware in the fridge. I don't know how long it can stay there. I don't work for the FDA.  I'm surely thinking about it though. 

Arugula Salad with Avocado, Pear, and Cherry Tomatoes (Amounts are for one meal-sized portion)

1/2 bag Organic Arugula 

1/2 Organic Pear

1 cup Organic Cherry Tomatoes- halved lengthwise

Freshly Ground Pepper

Toss arugula, pear and cherry tomatoes in dressing with your hands to coat evenly.  Arrange on plate and add avocado across the top because it will look prettier that way in your Instagram photo.

Enjoy!!

VIDEO: Meditation, Tuning In, and My Weave

Danika Brysha

I've gone and done it friends.  I've started meditating.  And I can't really stop. It's a massive game changer and I had no idea what those crazy meditating people were talking about until my girl Oprah offered me a free 21-day meditation challenge. And if there are two things in this world that I can't say no to, it is Oprah and anything that's free.

Just by sitting still and quieting my conscious thoughts for 20 minutes a day, I have uncovered so many things that I had previously buried with ideas of how things should be, expectations and anxiety, and stories of how I wasn't quite good enough. It has been less than two weeks and I've already discovered a few key points AND seen them playing out immediately in my daily life. Let's just say I've been using the phrases "Wow!" and "Holy Sh!t" in my journal a lot lately.

Here is what I now know for sure through my mediation practice:

1. Everything we need, every single thing, is within us

2. When we find it in ourselves to stop worrying and to trust that we'll be taken care of and everything will be ok, the universe will have the space to get to work.  And that damn "universe" (or God or Energy or whatever you prefer to call it) knows what's best for us. Like always.

3. Letting go of our conscious thoughts allows us access to our core, deeper ones- the ones that know us best and that aren't affected by the stories and lies we tell ourselves- the subconscious self has all the answers but we have to be in a position to listen.

And so maybe this makes me a hippy but I'm certainly ok with that identification if it means I can keep this up on the reg. Do you meditate?  I'd love to hear about your experience if so... mainly to prove that I'm not crazy.  And because I love you. I realized that while meditating. You're welcome.

Check out my experience via video blog, a cameo from Kingsley, and find out why I put my weave in for your viewing pleasure...

Practicing Vulnerability: Journals Unedited

Danika Brysha

In the last couple months, I have been journaling every day.  I absolutely love to write and when I do, time stands still. It has been the first time that I've been able to really make sense of my thoughts and to truly access that deeper level that has been buried or numbed for so long. Most of my blog posts take fragments from my journal and are edited to suit an audience but every now and then I want to share with you the dialogue that comes straight from my heart.  My journal entries, completely unedited.  Here is what came up this morning...

photo 1

Date: Friday, April 11th, 2014

Time: 12:30-1:30pm

Location: NYC- Meatpacking District: random table and chair outside Gaslight

I decided to stop and sit in the action of the city to do this morning's journaling.  With the exception of the cigarette smoke that's reaching my health bubble, everything is pretty perfect.  I just had a casting at Milk Studios so I'm looking pretty top notch as well. I like being alone in a big city occasionally.  All sorts of energy passing by as I peacefully sit here and write.

I want to feel like New York is as magical as if I was sitting in the middle of Paris or Barcelona.  And it is!  It can just be hard to recognize when you feel like it isn't going anywhere.  When you live here it is really easy to take for granted the fact that I'm living in the most beautiful part of the most amazing city in the world.  How lucky am I?!

I really don't need much to make me happy.  Getting good sleep, getting up and ready for the day, and getting out into the world is so fulfilling.  What I'm doing right now is what I hope to be doing forever.  And its so great to know just how little I really need to be happy. A journal, a pen, a roof over my head, food to eat, and love and support around me.  I could really make that a reality anywhere.

photo 2

It's truly a great day in NY.  The first since I've moved here that was really suited to sitting outside and writing.  I have a feeling that Spring will be when I fall madly in love with this place.  As I've been spending more time out and about, meeting people and being present, I'm reminded of how many wonderful people are out in this world.  It's a true shame that we don't get to meet all of them but I trust that the universe brings together the right ones. 

I've been really wanting to be my true, authentic self more lately.  I notice that I still wear a lot of masks and that I want nothing more than to totally strip myself of them in all arenas. The thing is, I know I'm a beautiful, passionate person worth of love and I truly believe that I'd find even more support and much deeper connections if I could just find a way to cut out all the bullshit.  All of the caring what people think, trying to please everyone, and anything I do that suggests I'm trying to be something that I'm not.  I know I'll get there.  I've already come so far and I know it's just a matter of time.  I'm just going to try to be more aware of when I think I may be faking or trying too much and to make some positive shift.

(My friend) Julia is staying with me and she's just so real. So able to be vulnerable and not concern herself with what I think when she tells a story.  She seems to just be really in tune with herself which I admire.  For so long I numbed myself to all my emotions so I can't expect to start feeling and being completely in tune with them right away.  It all takes time.  It's a journey much like mine with food.

photo 3

I'm beginning to get a lot more comfortable with being hungry.  I've found that now that I've told myself that being hungry is ok, I'm a lot less frantic about the concept.  I can relax and live more, knowing that I don't have to plan every move around my next meal.  Knowing that food will always be there and that I won't starve.  It feels really freeing.  And I think that's gonna be the key to being able to tune out the thinking about food all day thing.  Because when I know its ok to be hungry, I can forget to worry about it and in turn focus on living fully during the remainder of my days.  When its not a constant concern, I'll be able to forget about it- which for me is the ultimate goal. 

To only think of food and eating when my physical body tells me it needs fueling.  That would be a true cure for me.  The goal of all of this.  To take all the power away from food and to view it strictly as fuel. 

Be someone who "forgets to eat" or who finally views eating as another normal daily task like going to the bathroom or sleeping.

Something we think about when our body alerts us to its necessity and that we don't think about when it doesn't. That's how I define being cured from food addiction.  That's the END!

I think I've always had a hard time determining what the goal was.  What to strive for at the very end of all of this.  What I can tell people to expect when they can finally conquer all of this.  Being the kind of person that can have a box of Cheez-Its go stale in the cupboard or find a bag of peanut M&M's that have expired in your pantry.  

And fortunately through all of this I've managed to become super passionate about health and nutrition as well.  Thinking for so long that they were two completely related concepts but really they're quite different.  I'm glad my comfort eating led me to thinking nutrition was the answer because though I'm realizing that it isn't, I managed to gain an extreme love and passion for quality, real, whole foods in this process of self-discovery.  And that is truly invaluable!

Danika