When I work with women on healing their relationship with food, here’s how it goes:
They come to me after years of struggling with food. They’ve been on every diet, they’re likely binge eating – usually on sugar and carbs – , they feel stuck in a body they hate, and their confidence is way down.
We work through lots of different things, and after a couple of months, they aren’t turning to food anymore.
Their binges stop.
Their control of food stops.
Food begins to find it’s natural place in their life.
But then something kind of scary (and also exciting!) happens…
Now that they aren’t turning to food for excitement, for comfort, for love, or to avoid disappointment, or shame, they are faced with real life.
When you remove the crutch (food), real life is exposed. And you’re forced to feel things and experience whatever comes your way.
Happiness, sadness, loneliness, joy, uncertainty, discomfort in your body, inadequacy, boredom, heartbreak.
And this can be really tough.
Just a few years ago, I didn’t know how to handle these things without food. Food became so easy, and it was always there. So when I stopped turning to food, I was at a loss. I was faced with all this stuff that I didn’t know how to deal with.
For that reason, I’ve designed my coaching program to focus heavily on helping these women learn how to move through life feeling and dealing with lots of different things without turning to food.
We build up their “toolbox”.
I teach them new ways to take care of themselves – not just their bodies, but also their hearts, their emotions, and their needs.
And I tell them this one thing over and over again:
You can handle it. Whatever comes your way, you’ve got this.
Sometimes we’re so scared of heartbreak that we make ice cream our boyfriend instead. Or we’re so scared of feeling bored for a night, so we go to 7-Eleven to buy cookies to keep us company. Or we’re so afraid of dealing with the issues in our relationship, so we go on a diet to try to control some part of our lives and hope to feel better.
It’s so easy to use food.
But just remember….If you choose to feel it instead, you can handle it.
It’s not as bad as you think.
I want to challenge you… the next time you think about turning to food when you’re not hungry, ask yourself:
What is this food doing for me right now?
How am I feeling right now?
And then I want to dare you to feel it. Just this once.
Sit on your couch and twiddle your thumbs because you’re so bored. Watch how ideas start to come to you.
Cry your eyes out because you’re upset. Notice how alive it feels to actually cry.
Feel the overwhelm. You’ll know what to do about it if you just sit with it.
Embrace your feelings, and embrace real life. Don’t push it away.
You can handle it. I promise.
Here’s a quote I love that supports this concept:
“When you numb your pain, you also numb your joy.” – Brene Brown
Think about how much more fulfilling life could be if we knew we could feel it all and handle it?
In the comments below, share with me how this dare goes for you. When you felt your feelings instead of eating, just this once, how did it go? What happened? I’m here for ya!
Sending you love and courage,
Great post! Once I began my journey to being an Intuitive Eater, I was able to finally admit some of the feelings I use food to “fix”. Self-doubt, fear, and defeat are definitely the toughest feelings to actually let myself feel. This post is a great reminder that I CAN handle these feelings. Thank you!!
Nice post! I LOVE the challenge of actually “feeling”. I have discovered how to do this through yoga. It is not unusual for me to cry while practicing. At first it made me judge myself, it even scared me, but now I try to observe my emotions and simply let them pass unthreateningly by. I try to see it as my body releasing something it needs to. It is a craft, that’s for sure!
I’ve read this post about ten times already, just letting the words sink in and nodding in agreement of how true they are. It finally occurred to me just WHY I wanted to numb my pain: I feel like my life should always by happy and perfect and full of rainbows and sunshine. I don’t ever want to have a bad day. Who does, right? But life is full of bad days and I know there will be times in the future where bad things will happen to me – that’s life! Numbing the bad feelings or bad days with food does not help us cope with life’s hard times which in turn makes us fear those times even more! It’s like a lightbulb just when off in my head! Emotional eating does us a disservice in so many ways!
reading this is scarily true for me. Thank you
Best post ever. Beautiful writing and so very true.
Wonderfully written 🙂 I certainly am only human, and have been known to use food (or lack thereof) as a means of avoiding my emotions, or as a crutch. I think that learning to sit with your feelings instead is kind of like using a muscle – you have to exercise it to get better at it. Just like creativity and self discipline; the more you practise, the easier it becomes. Thank you for being another positive voice in the world to listen to. X