Inner Strength Focus: Vitality to Heal Emotional Eating


Having a sense of inner vitality requires strength in both mind and body. Vitality as a personal strength requires choosing your health and wellbeing over temporary desire. When you are building and using the strength of vitality you are living in alignment with how you want to feel. Feeling vital requires opening yourself to the foundations of wellness: nutrition, movement, sleep and relaxation.

If you want to be well, feel well and live well, it is helpful to engage in a daily wellness practices. The path to wellness is individual and is best when it’s intuitive and aligns with your personal needs, schedule and natural rhythms rather than feeling like something you have to do, or something that is out of alignment with how you would choose to live. When you are truly approaching life with a sense of vitality as an inner strength, the choices do not feel like a chore, they don’t feel like a punishment, they feel natural, uplifting and ultimately enhance your life.

When you apply the inner strength of vitality to living in alignment with a mindful approach to making peace with food, mindfulness is at the core. When you are making mindful choices about how to treat yourself, your own inner wisdom and intuition is your most effective and useful guide. When you are making forced choices, you are giving away your power (like to a fad diet or exercise regimen) and it is unlikely that you will maintain those choices. 

Emotional eating zaps our vitality because it is the stuffing, avoiding and denying ourselves from feeling our feelings. Emotional eating does not leave much space for vitality and creates a drain on energy and emotional and physical wellbeing. When you approach managing your emotional world with vitality and a sense that emotions are neither good nor bad rather that they are valuable information about our inner world, you will build vitality through emotional awareness. When you are emotionally aware and no longer avoid or attempt to stuff your feelings with food, you naturally open up to honing the inner strength of vitality.

Begin with a simple and doable daily practice that will allow you to get in touch with your emotions. This could be journaling and/or a meditation practice. If you feel very out of touch with your emotions it can be beneficial to receive additional support such as therapy or a support group to help create a deeper awareness and acceptance of your emotions. When you approach the process of emotional awareness with vitality, it will create alignment with feeling empowered and healthy on a deeper level than simply attempting to eat well and exercise to control or maintain a particular physique. When you address the underlying emotions you will make choices based on experiencing an inner exuberance and truly living in vitality and vibrancy.

Begin today with noticing where you are making choices about your vitality that are NOT in alignment with how you want to feel. Ask yourself if you are engaging in certain wellness practices, why you have chosen these particular ones and is it for an outcome only—OR for a consistent experience of vitality?

Where are you not in alignment with how you want to feel?

Pick ONE area of wellness and begin to focus solely there. If it is nutrition, with each food choice you make throughout the day, ask yourself if it will increase your vitality. If not, it may not be the best choice as it is not in alignment with how you ultimately want to feel and the strength you are attempting to build. If the food choice WILL increase your vitality through pleasure, energy and possibly a shared positive experience, and yet you have been taught to label that particular food as a “bad” or “off-limits” food, remind yourself that vitality and nutrition are not about being perfect. In fact, restriction leads to overeating, less pleasure derived from eating and feelings of guilt and shame. If there is anything that will dampen your vitality it’s feeling guilt and shame surrounding your food choices—and you will only remain stuck in the damaging cycle of emotional eating.

This week pick ONE area of wellness (nutrition, movement, sleep or relaxation) where you’d like to increase your vitality. Start small and work to create this shift because it feels intuitively and authentically like what will improve your vitality and then allow it to continue to grow.

Inner Strength Focus: Using Curiosity to Heal Emotional Eating


If you are striving towards greater happiness, inner peace and contentment, developing the inner strength of curiosity will help you approach challenges in life with more ease and awareness. Increasing your knowledge and growing wiser all throughout your lifespan allows you to feel as though you have options and opportunities to shift your perspective to any circumstances.

Here at Wholistic Food Therapy, the primary focus is on supporting and uplifting those who struggle with emotional eating, so the examples given to grow this particular inner strength are directed towards this personal challenge. However, if emotional eating, managing food cravings and body image are not your focus, you can apply the same intention to your own areas of struggle—all challenges we face are usually metaphors for how we approach attempting to manage, control and make sense our internal experiences and our lives.

Applying curiosity to emotional eating is allowing yourself to grow in your knowledge base—and more importantly—becoming wiser surrounding your body, food choices, and judgements. When you struggle with emotional eating, you may feel out of control or powerless to food and therefore need a diet, a plan or something external to create a sense of control and willpower. This is a lie sold to you by the dieting (and now wellness) industry! Being curious about your own body, its specific needs for nutrition, movement and relaxation is all about being mindful and intuitive in how you approach not just what you eat but how you eat it. It is not about what the next best fad exercise program you should try, but about what makes you feel energized, healthy and vital. It is not about finding that perfect diet that is sold to you in a way that makes you believe it will somehow create happiness through weight loss, but really about being curious as to what foods, portions and combinations make you feel your absolute best—physically, emotionally and energetically.

When you are curious about how what you eat makes you feel, you can apply mindful and intuitive eating techniques and grow in your knowledge, awareness and therefore develop body-wisdom. When you are truly guided by your inner wisdom, you no longer question your choices, or live in regret, punishment, deprivation and judgment—nor do you resist what is best for you (aka self-sabotage).

Emotional eating is what happens when food cravings arise from a subconscious attempt to repress emotions. Being curious about what the feeling is about and growing in your knowledge of emotional intelligence can allow you to be truly wise. When you understand why an emotion has arisen, you no longer attempt to avoid it through suppression with food. When you understand why it is there you can make a choice about how to respond to it, rather than eat in an attempt to avoid, soothe or delay the emotional experience. Emotions are valuable information about our experiences, when avoided we avoid our lives.

For this week, if emotional eating is an area that you are working to grow and improve, I recommend following a mindful & intuitive eating practice for at least one meal or snack per day. Allow this to be a moment of being fully present with your food and your body. Make a conscious choice as to a specific meal or snack that you’d like to eat. Approach the opportunity to be curious about your experience with being truly present with your food (and yourself) in the following way:

·      Ask yourself what you want to eat.

·      Ask yourself what you truly are hungry for (emotional suppression or nourishment/something tasty).

·      Ask yourself why you want that particular food.

·      Ask yourself what the food has to offer you.

·      Ask yourself how hungry you are in this moment and allow that to guide your portion.

·      When you are prepared to eat, first notice the aromas and site of the food and notice your reaction internally to this meal or snack. Does it bring you pleasure? Are there feelings coming up for you about the food (not good enough, anxiety about calories, worried about how healthy or unhealthy it is)? If so, try to release these feelings and become mindfully aware in the present moment and let go of any judgmental thoughts.

·      Allow your environment to be as calming as possible without distractions such as TV and cell phones.

·      Tell yourself that you deserve to eat what is nourishing and brings you pleasure.

·      Notice your breath and relax your body.

·      Be grateful for your food.

·      Begin to eat.

·      Chew slowly and thoroughly.

·      Notice the taste.

·      Place the utensils down between bites or food down if eating with your hands.

·      Check in with your full cues.

·      Stop when you are satisfied.

·      Thank yourself for taking this time to be mindful and present with your food.

·      Notice how you are feeling.

·      Take time to journal if it feels as though it would be useful to continue to grow in your knowledge of what is right for you when it comes to food choices, portions, nutrients and mindful eating.

How’d you do? Developing curiosity about your own body’s needs and not what some random dietary theory says is the most valuable way to be truly body-wise and to grow in awareness of your own personal needs for nutrition, movement and relaxation. When you are learning from your own inner wisdom rather from an external source you will have a deeper respect for your body and make choices that serve you—you will choose you rather than choosing a temporary moment of pleasure or restriction.

Grow These Six Inner Strengths to Create Happiness


Seeking comfort is human nature. We can become stuck in the comfort and then struggle to step outside of our comfort zones and embrace change. However, it is also human nature to strive to become better, to grow, and feel as though we are evolving in a positive way throughout our life span. The tricky part is how to step out of our comfort zones where desire remains just that, a desire rather than actually taking any action towards change.

Positive psychology is an area of psychology that focuses on developing individual strengths in order to live a life of deeper meaning, contentment, happiness, inner peace and ease. The power of acceptance is at its core. It offers a series of practices to create opportunities to develop and utilize these inner resources. These practices and the focus on developing inner strengths eases into the process of change. These foundational inner strengths then create an opportunity to embrace change in a way that is both very healthy and often focuses on, well—just like the name suggests—the positive.

Positive psychology definitely does not consider life to be just become a breeze if you possess or develop these strengths and mental perspectives. It also does not claim that the goal or purpose of implementing these practices to grow your inner strengths is to become happy-happy-happy all of the time—we all know that that is simply not realistic.

Within the arena of positive psychology the focus is how to approach circumstance that may be challenging. How to create a mindful perspective and view challenges as opportunities to use and continue to grow your inner strengths in order to build resilience and create the changes that you desire. This mindful and positive approach offers constant perspective shifting—creating the possibility to grow all throughout your life.

There are six personal strengths that studies have shown are consistent with living a life of happiness, contentment and ease.

These strengths are:

1.    Curiosity: Allowing continued growth of knowledge and wisdom

2.    Vitality: Allowing continued growth of courage as well as mind & body wellbeing

3.    Giving and Receiving Love: Allowing continued growth of love, trust, openness and affirmation for yourself and others

4.    Temperance: Allowing continued growth of acceptance, forgiveness & compassion

5.    Gratitude: Allowing for continued growth to release the state of wanting and desire and creating a grateful perspective that what you have is enough. This creates transcendence and deeply releases anxiety.

6.    Hope & Faith: An inner belief that all will be well without having to control your circumstances. This is the experience of surrender, which is deeply personal and spiritual.

While these six areas of strengths are demonstrated by those who seem to be authentically happy, know that there are many other strengths and values that are certainly important that we all can possess and attain. However, these six strengths are a pretty good place to begin to grow and build upon in order to open yourself to greater mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing. If you feel that you possess at least one of these strengths, you are off to a good start! You can access your strengths to help grow in other areas that may need some support along your path to creating greater contentment, happiness and ease in life. If you feel you do not possess any of these strengths, don’t fret! There are many ways to build and grow these strengths. In fact, that’s why I’m writing about this in the first place. So many people feel stuck and blocked in their pursuit of change.

Growth, change and personal development is a process and requires effort. So, think about this, how content do you feel with your life at this moment on a 0-10 scale? Now consider one of the strengths listed above that you feel you could benefit from expanding within yourself and improve your happiness.

Over the next six posts I will be talking about ways to increase each of these within your life on a daily basis. I will share practices that are rooted in positive psychology that support the development of these strengths. I will be offering ways to incorporate them into mindful and intuitive eating practices as my primary focus within wholistic food therapy is supporting those who struggle with emotional eating, stress eating and a not-so-healthy body image. If that is not what resonates with you, you can take the same concepts and apply them to any area that you’d like to grow, improve and feel stronger internally.

Throughout this fall you will begin to use these practices and allow your strengths to be reflected back to you both by how you feel internally as well as through how others may experience and respond to you. When you pursue change, growth and personal development, life opens up in such a positive and encouraging way. Really, it is all about your perspective and how much fear rules your current state of mind, actions and choices. When you focus on where you lack, where you feel let down or don’t allow in hope, that will only expand and be reinforced. On the other side, when you focus on growth, expansion and becoming, that will be reinforced.

I know that I always benefit from focusing on growing within one strength at a time as many of these were not my go-to’s for a long time. I will be doing the practices and working to grow throughout this fall and I am looking forward to the challenge. I hope you will join me as we begin to hone these internal strengths together!