Heal Emotional Eating to Heal Your Body and Yourself

 
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Emotional eating is a struggle for so many of us. It can dampen and diminish life in so many ways. Emotional eating causes you to not experience the full range of your emotions. Emotional eating often creates feelings of frustration and defeat related to unwanted weight gain. Overall, emotional eating causes a sense of disconnection from both your mind and your body. For so many that struggle with emotional eating, healing your relationship with your body can be the biggest challenge to overcome.

Body image issues run deep. A disturbing number of girls put themselves on a diet as early as the third grade. Many teenagers say that they want to lose weight to look more like images they see in fashion magazines or on social media. Most men and women say they feel insecure when they see celebrity images and other ads. This is not cool. Not only does the struggle with body image, insecurity and not feeling good enough begin quite young, many say that these stereotypes and feelings are often perpetuated within their peer groups and families.

Emotional eating can be driven by a negative body image and feeling less than, not good enough, or inadequate. These feelings create further uncomfortable internal experiences which will inevitably trigger more emotional eating. The first place to begin is to develop emotional awareness, which if you are unfamiliar with how to do this you can read more on several of my past blogs, one of them you can find here. When you are actively working towards emotional awareness and feeling more present and connected to your emotions and your life, it will be helpful to address the emotions that surface related to how you feel about your body.

How often do you complain about your body out loud? How often do you complain to yourself about or wish your body was different? How often do you judge other people’s bodies, either to yourself or to others? This is where you can begin to create the change you desire related to body image. First of all, if you are judging other’s bodies, practice thinking kinder or more neutral thoughts rather the negative biased thoughts. If you are talking about other people’s bodies, practice pointing out what you might compliment versus judge. When you treat others with kindness and respect and end the judgement thoughts and statements you can begin to heal yourself.

Working to heal your relationship with your perception of your own body may be more of a challenge than changing your perception of others. It starts with healing your relationship with food and feeling as though you are not intentionally harming your body or sabotaging your body with negative thoughts, beliefs and actions.

Even though you desire to heal the root cause of your struggles with emotional eating and body image issues, weight loss may be a goal for you. This can bring up additional uncomfortable emotions such as fear. You may be fearful of the attention that weight loss attracts. You may fear the line of questioning around your weight loss such as, “how did you lose so much weight?” or “what diet did you use?” and so on. You may also fear only being noticed for weight loss. You may fear being judged or even being more attractive to others and what that might mean. You may fear being considered “good” if you lose weight and “bad” if you gain weight. This is super complicated stuff. So to think a diet, a workout plan or even a few compliments will heal these deep-rooted thoughts, beliefs, feelings and actions, think again. It starts with healing yourself. Food and even weight have only become metaphors for the challenges, fears and insecurities you experience.

Many of those I work with initially say that they want to lose weight. But really, as we dig deeper, they want to feel more confident about their body. They want to make choices that create a sense of control and empowerment within their lives. This is where the real work begins. You see, there is no diet that will offer anything more than a temporary feeling of accomplishment. There is no workout plan that will help you address and explore your emotions. There is no compliment that will change your mind about yourself or your body if you don’t believe it in your heart. 

When you set out to begin healing your relationship with food, your body and yourself, here are some important elements to consider. I recommend getting out a journal and spend time reflecting and writing down your answers to the following questions.

-What do you like about yourself?

-How do you want to feel?

-How has your past impacted your body image and your choices? (You can read more about your food story here.)

-How have comments from others impacted how you feel about yourself?

-How have certain food choices from this past week caused you to feel about yourself now, why?

-When in your life did you feel your best about yourself and/or your body, why?

When you take time to deeply reflect on yourself, your body, your thoughts, beliefs, actions and choices you can begin to know yourself more deeply. The more deeply you know and understand yourself, the more you can practice self-acceptance. When you reflect on your answers to the questions above, what stands out to you?

Now begin to determine your strengths. Take time to acknowledge what you like about yourself. Become very clear about how you want to feel—both about yourself and in general. Begin to work with these elements first. How can you use your strengths to empower yourself to take ownership over your choices. How can you use the positive attributes you can recognize about yourself right now to heal your life? Now move into awareness of your emotions (if you’d like to learn more about this process you can read more here). Practice noticing, accepting and understanding them. Move into a space of applying this same practice with food. Ask yourself with each food choice you make if that choice supports feeling a sense of self-respect and self-love.

As you grow in your ability to make healthy, intuitive and mindful choices relating to food, the next phase of healing is to move your focus into your body. While this may feel awkward in the beginning, integrate a time to practice being grateful for individual elements of your body. Practice looking at a specific body part, such as your feet, and express gratitude to them for walking you where you need to go. Focus on your heart and thank it for never missing a beat. Gaze into your eyes in the mirror and express gratitude to them for allowing you see all of the beauty of nature and those you care about. These practices of appreciation for all that your body can do will allow an internal shift of how you experience and care for your body.

When you offer your body gratitude, you are offering yourself a place to feel more accepting, loving and kind towards yourself. Allot time daily to engage in the practice of healing your relationship with your body and with yourself. I recommend keeping a journal through this process as you will begin to experience a powerful shift as you practice over time.

Another step to heal your relationship with yourself is to compliment yourself. Acknowledge when you working hard, and tell yourself that you appreciate this hard work. Acknowledge when you practice elements that are challenging and thank yourself for remaining dedicated even when it is hard. Acknowledge when you make a specific choice that you feel proud of allow yourself to really feel this pride within. Practice stating to yourself what you do like about yourself, what you are good at, what physical attributes you appreciate about yourself. Validate your feelings to yourself and be grateful to yourself for choosing the difficult path of healing as opposed to remaining stuck in a space of struggle and fear.

You see, you are not your body, but you do live in your body. You have to determine what kind of home for yourself that your body will be. Will it be one that you fight with, detest, complain about and harm? Or will it be one that you respect, treat with kindness, love, and deeply care for? As you treat yourself with care and make choices that support how you want to feel, you create an opportunity to transfer that care to your physical body. Conversely, when you are kind to your body, you are creating a deeper kindness for who you are at the core of your being.

As you heal, your relationship with food will transform. Over time, you will not judge, restrict, binge or complain about food. Over time you will treat your body and mind with the respect and care that they deserve because you will feel your worth and have a longing for this deeper well-being.

When you work with these practices I would love to hear about your experience. If you find these concepts to be overwhelming, you don’t have to go it alone. Reach out for support either from me or from someone you trust. Know that there is hope for healing.

Why Diets Don't Work: Creating a Personalized Approach to Wellness

 
Why Diets Don’t Work
 

There is no one-size-fits-all diet, lifestyle, medical treatment, article of clothing…because there is no one-size-fits-all anything! We are all dynamically unique and have different needs in all areas of our lives as individuals. Imagine that there was a survey taken of bike helmet, shoe or other article of clothing sizes. Once an average was determined, helmet, shoe and clothing makers began only making the average size and sold that ONE size to everyone.

While the helmets, shoes or clothes may fit some people just fine, for many others it may be potentially harmful and most definitely uncomfortable! There just is no one-size-fits-all! The same is true with how you care for yourself. If you try to stuff yourself into a theory, exercise routine, meditation practice or even sleep schedule that does not suit you, you will be uncomfortable and it could even be potentially harmful for you.

This same concept is true for nearly everything. However, we are bombarded with messages from media, the medical community and other sources that there is only ONE best way to eat, to live, to love and to be. Not to mention that the headlines surrounding that ONE best way to eat, lose weight, live, love and be etc… changes all the time creating constant confusion about health and wellness.

This is precisely why diets don’t work for long term weight loss and living a healthy lifestyle. Studies show that long-term and yo-yo dieting actually cause weight gain. With a diet there is always an end point, so what happens when it’s over? First there is a sense of relief that you don’t have to starve yourself any longer and your metabolic functions may be out of whack after imposing excessive restriction sending you into an overeating frenzy.

Dietary theories, which are less about being on a diet and more about eating within a specific dietary plan also don’t work long term as they tend to have a higher level of restriction. These theories also often have a dogmatic view of food—such as this food is good, this food is bad—which instills a sense of fear around certain foods and creates extremes and confusion. Living in fear is never a good thing. 

A personalized approach to nutrition and wellness may include choosing to stay away from certain foods, however, you want that decision to be because that is your choice based on how that food makes you feel rather than being fearful of that particular food. When you are free and able to make a choice based on your health and how you want to feel, you create a mindset of empowerment. The more empowered you feel, the more you will begin to develop a healthy relationship with your intuition and your choices will be guided by your ability to truly listen to your body.

So you might be wondering, how do I create a personalized wellness plan? It can be extremely useful to do this in conjunction with a (w)holistic health and wellness coach, especially if you feel confused and overwhelmed by all the conflicting information out there. I recommend finding someone who works from a mindful and intuitive eating approach and encourages YOU to be the expert on YOUR body and a uses a highly individualized perspective.

But really, the thing is, YOU are the expert on YOUR body! You can become your own coach and can learn to tune in, listen and determine for yourself what your body needs, how to feed it, how to move it and how to best care for it. You are the only one who can determine what combination of foods makes you feel your best, what portions, combination of nutrients and timing of eating allows you to feel full, satisfied as well as the ability to maintain energy and overall wellness. Only you can determine what exercise—and really what anything—is best for you because YOU are the expert on YOU!

Becoming intuitively connected to your body by understanding its needs. You will recognize intuitively how food, supplements, medications, exercise plans, meditations and so on make you feel and this will give you valuable feedback that will inform your choices. If it is recommended that you go on a high protein diet and you feel disgusted by having yet another protein whatever, that is valuable information from your body. If it is recommended that you go on a plant-based diet and you are constantly starving and have low energy, that is valuable information from your body as well.

The thing is, some people will feel amazing on a plant-based foods only lifestyle—while others will feel miserable. The same is true that some will feel amazing on a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet and others will feel horrible. We are all dynamically unique and have needs that are very specific to our own individual make up—mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and energetically.

The process of becoming more in tune with your body is all about mindfulness, self-awareness, emotional awareness and learning to pay close attention. The process is about truly listening to your body which often speaks in soft whispers and subtle messages. Adapting a mindful approach encourages that when you eat, eat—when you drink, drink. Notice the impact of what you are eating and drinking on your body. While you do not want to be restrictive in your dietary choices due to the tendency to over-eat after a period of restricting, understanding the difference between emotional and general food cravings allows you to intuitively check in with how your choices make you feel.

When you are truly intuitive and mindful you will be diligent and practical with your choices. Having your health become your focus will allow you to make empowered decisions. This helps take away the fear of food as well as the feeling of being deprived or restricted. The middle road is really the most sustainable, the most effective and the most realistic. The moderate path, mindful eating and tuning into your intuitive wisdom surrounding your food and lifestyle choices will help you heal your relationship with food as well as with yourself.

If you are interested in immersing yourself in a journey to heal your relationship with food using these practices and principles, Finding Freedom From Emotional Eating is designed just for you. This LIVE course begins on MONDAY February 4th, you can learn more or sign up here!

How to END Feeling DEPRIVED and START Feeling EMPOWERED by Your Food Choices

 
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Have you recently set out on a wellness journey where you want to begin eating healthier to feel good, build energy and feel more comfortable in your body? The momentum often begins with feeling strong and empowered and you have determined your WHY! Then, you are inevitably thrown into a situation where you are around others eating the very foods you have chosen not to eat because they do not support your wellness journey to feel healthy. Even though you know those foods may leave you feeling miserable (you know, feeling bloated, have an upset stomach, they zap your energy, give you skin breakouts and experience brain fog or another obvious sign that these particular foods are JUST NO GOOD FOR YOU) and yet you now feel DEPRIVED.

When you have turned the corner from making a choice that certain foods just DO NOT serve you, and you clearly know this (uh, remember the above miserable symptoms?), it does not mean that it is easy to choose not to eat them and that you won’t feel deprived.

It takes time and effort to change our minds about those types of foods and to create the shift from feeling deprived. Just because you have made the decision to no longer eat those particular foods, that does not mean that you are not human. That does not mean that there will not be cravings. That does not mean that you won’t secretly be jealous or resentful of everyone else who seems to be eating these foods with no problem at all (at least, so it seems).

Learning to listen to your body is a journey and it is definitely not a straight-line kind of a journey. Nope, integrating mindful and intuitive eating principles into your life often comes with many twists and turns. I know this personally from my struggles with leaky gut and SIBO that there are some foods that my body really does not like. At. All. One for sure is cows milk—which sadly includes cheese. You know, like the super delicious cheddar cheese, muenster cheese, swiss cheese... I pretty much used to be pretty much a chees-a-tarian. Ahh, I do love cheese, it just does NOT love me back. Do you think I didn’t test this many, many times? Of course I did! But with time and practice I had to come to realize that feeling horrible is just not worth it! It took a long time to not feel deprived when I didn’t eat cheese and I wanted it. And there are still cravings, (which are usually more emotionally based) and I have had to practice awareness and managing those desires for comforting foods when I am stressed, tired and anxious, in other ways. 

So how do you release the feelings of being deprived when you choose NOT to eat something you want despite how it makes you feel? Just like any other feelings, you have to learn to be present with them, to accept them and to ensure yourself that you are NOT ACTUALLY deprived. You are making a choice based on your wellness goals, based on what your body needs to feel vital and healthy!

When you connect with your specific WHY driving your decision to eliminate a certain food from your meals it will help to shift how you feel about your choice. Reminding yourself of your personal WHY and ensuring you are NOT restricting foods, not basing this on actual deprivation (like a diet) in any other areas, will help you refocus. My personal mantra is, “eating that gooey cheese is not worth an upset stomach.” I worked way too hard to heal my gut, I do NOT want to destroy it again.

Deprivation mindset is not healthy. When you deprive yourself and restrict certain foods out of fear of taking in calories, fearing weight gain, or to punish yourself because of your own negative body image it will inevitably lead to either malnutrition or a binge. Restriction and dieting do NOT work long-term and will set you up for bigger struggles with food. Research shows that the majority of diets fail and DO NOT last for the long term!!! That is significant and eye opening. IF you make a choice about the food you eat based on how you want to feel, you can simplify your decision-making process.

When you make your decision based on how you want to feel you create an internal experience of empowerment, confidence and self-respect. When you make choices based on building these feelings, you create a powerful shift internally. You regain a sense of control and mastery over your choices and respect your feelings and choices. Experiencing true health and well-being is a reminder that you are making progress towards your personal wellness goals. It is a process and a practice which will take time, effort, determination and focus.

One way to decrease your feelings of deprivation is to create healthy or adapted version of the foods you love. Another way is to explore any emotional food cravings and explore how to get your emotional needs met in non-food ways. An example would be if you find you crave comfort foods when you are anxious and tend to use food to calm yourself down, try a deep breathing practice, journaling, movement or talking to someone you trust about your feelings. Notice the impact of using this non-food-based tool and continue to practice it.

Having regular self-care practice and becoming more comfortable with feeling your feelings will help you choose a different way to eat, to be and interact with food and will help you begin to shift from feeling deprived to feeling empowered! Start each day with asking yourself how you want to feel (mentally, emotionally, physically and energetically) and notice how that begins to impact your choices.

The next time you notice a sense of feeling deprived in relation to a choice you make related to food, check-in and ask yourself: what’s really going on? Why are you choosing NOT to eat that particular food? Continue to be certain that you are not restricting because of a thought that it is a “bad” or “off limits” food due to calories or fear, but because it is a food that does not serve your health and wellness goals.

Are there any foods that you are working to shift your perspective from feeling deprived to feeling confident, empowered and strong? Remember that healthy eating, intuitive eating and mindful eating are form of self-respect. Let me know how this process works for you!

If you haven’t signed up for my 7-Day Kick Your Food Cravings to Curb Challenge, you can do so here!