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Filtering by Tag: food addiction

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. 

If You Struggle with Food...

Danika Brysha

MY FEBRUARY WRITING CHALLENGE: DAY 5 of 28

I receive many questions and emails regarding the topic of emotional eating, binge eating, and food addiction. It has been the greatest challenge of my life and I work hard to manage it daily. Below is my response to a recent email, that I thought may be helpful for others who are struggling. 

 

My true recovery from my food battle is actually only a very recent one, but there were certainly a ton of little victories along the way. These little discoveries have definitely had impacts on my overall healing. I've truly spent the majority of my life on the weight loss quest because being the chubby kid caused me so much pain and it was pain that I never really dealt with properly and am currently working through. I see it as a large part of my purpose to be a catalyst in opening others' eyes about food addiction, emotional eating, and ultimately how to lose the weight for good. What I've learned through my decades of self-experimentation is that it really isn't about the food.

What I mean by that is that the actual food you're eating only has a fraction to do with the extra weight. It's important to eat clean healthy food because it gives you the clear mind and energy necessary to do the inner work that will actually help you find peace with food, but that's really it. We have every single answer and piece of guidance within us, but if our brain is foggy and our attention span is zapped and we get poor quality sleep and we're constantly distracted... then we never give ourselves any chance at hearing that inner voice. You can call it God or your inner self or your intuition or the universe or energy or whatever you choose- all that matters is the acknowledgment that it is critical in healing.

What it comes down to is that so many of us are using food as a drug. To numb out, to quiet the feelings we don't want to feel (this is often completely subconscious so it's easy to say "I'm not feeling anything" because we've gotten really good at turning them off in the immediate second that they surface). We use food instead of God and love and feeling our feelings. What I learned that stuck with me is that when we have feelings and we choose to bury or block them instead of sit with them and feel them, they don't just disappear. They take other form in our body. That sadness we didn't deal with properly by feeling it is now sadness we turn inward on ourselves. Just sitting inside of us.

And I assume you and I are very similar in the sense that you've always been the one that's happy with a great attitude and a smile on her face?  I was that too and I am that, but I'm also sometimes sad and angry and quiet. But for the majority of my life I looked at the outside world to tell me what they liked from me and that was "funny" "outrageous" "people-pleasing", and so I conformed to that, without ever asking who I wanted to be and without acknowledging that every single human has a range of emotions and that is actually the most beautiful thing about this experience. And so I was only willing to feel the feelings that went along with this fabricated identity of the funny, happy Danika that kept everyone else comfortable and happy, and whenever anything that didn't match that came up, I needed to find a way to protect my ego and make sure that it was right about my identity. And so I ate. I ate to quiet the discomfort that didn't match with who I thought I was and that I didn't know how to properly deal with. And it become completely subconscious behavior which made it even trickier to break that habit. We use food to take the edge off. The same way someone has a cocktail when they come home from work, or wants to crash on the couch and watch mindless TV, or take a cigarette break to escape reality, or over-schedule themselves with being "busy" because they're terrified to be quiet with themselves.  In our case, we use food to soothe and escape and relax. Some call it emotional eating, some call it food addiction, and others haven't developed the awareness to even acknowledge that they're doing it.

It starts with creating an awareness in every single situation in which you reach for food and you are not hungry. Just start there. It doesn't mean you don't get to eat whatever you reached for.  It just means stopping in that fraction of a second, being honest about where your physical hunger is (you can label it on a scale from 1-10 if it helps), and acknowledge the fact that you're eating for a reason besides physical hunger. Our mental/emotional hunger can be very tricky. It tends to come from our mouth or tongue or chest or head. If it isn't coming from your stomach or a genuine low energy from nutrient deficiency (another place where clean eating makes healing infinitely easier because you're getting all your nutrients), acknowledge that you're eating for emotional hunger, not physical. Eventually what you can begin doing is pausing a little bit longer in these moments when you reach for food and you're not physically hungry and use that as a cue. "Oh, I'm not physically hungry but I want to eat... What am I feeling". Carry a little notebook and write down what you're feeling in those moments. If you can identify it (ex. You have a big deadline coming up and you're overwhelmed, or your coworker said something that upset you just seconds before you reached for the chocolate) and then tell yourself you're brave enough to feel it and that it won't break you to do so. That moment of awareness might resolve that desire to eat to soothe and you might just put the chocolate down because you're no longer counting on it to give you a hug and unconditional love. Food, unfortunately, is not love, though it can feel that way in tough moments.  If you can do this even once a day, that is a huge victory. It takes time but it gets easier and easier the more conscious you become.

What I will tell you after almost two decades of deprivation and diets and willpower is that it has nothing to do with any of those things. It's actually so much easier than we've been lead to believe. For me, the biggest shift, the one that has transformed my relationship more than anything else is actually one that happened relatively recently. I found myself at rock bottom in a binge of ice cream and chocolate and chips feeling like I'd exhausted every option there was. Every diet, every book, every tool, every food group. And then I found myself praying, which I don't know that I've done from a genuinely spiritual perspective in all of my life... And then my prayers were answered. And with that little tiny flicker of faith, I was able to fully surrender and became willing to believe that contrary to everything I had been told, all this controlling and managing of food was actually the thing that was hindering my recovery and keeping the weight on. I had also been watching Gabrielle Bernstein's workshop Finally Full and so many of her words just stuck with me, reminding me that my constant anxiety and desire to control was the very thing leading me to the binges. My only option was to believe that there was something much more powerful that could take the struggle from me and handle it, as long as I was willing to trust. And I'm not sure what happened this time around that was different than the thousands of times before that I'd heard the words "surrender", but it just clicked. And since that day, I've never felt such inner peace in my entire life. It has been a long and painful and exhausting journey but there is the brightest light at the end and I know this is just the beginning..

 

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