Food is not the problem

Food is not the problem…it’s the symptom of your problem. Those of us who use food to cope do so because it provides us with a temporary reprieve of dealing with the underlying problems.

The diet and weight loss industry are constantly focused on the food….and if food was really the problem then we would be successful, instead of suffering the pain of regain and relapse.

Going on a diet is like an alcoholic going to detox. It works for a while…its stops the drinking…however it’s solving the wrong problem. We are not looking at the reasons WHY we were using food (or another substance) to cope. So once life gets hard again, the one thing I know to make it feel better in the moment is to eat.

So, if you have tried diets or quick fix weight loss solutions and have not had long term success, you are not alone and it’s not your fault. You have been trying to solve the wrong problem.

I know the pain of being obsessed with food, eating, my body, how I look, what others think of me….. and the lure of a quick fix easy solution is seductive and enticing. I want that pain to go away, and I want it now. Even in the back of our minds when we know it won’t work long term, we convince ourselves that this time will be different. Anything to make the pain go away.

It can be scary to face our past, our trauma, our negative self-talk, our unmet attachment needs. I mean, isn’t this the very reason we have been eating in the first place? To avoid the feelings we think will cripple us? I understand. And, I also know that the only way through is through.  In facing the things we think will be too hard and painful we take away the control they have over us. Then we can start to live an authentic life based on creation rather than reaction.

Is Emotional Eating a Decision?

As far as being an emotional eater…Did I decide to have this thing? Did I DECIDE to use food to cope emotionally?

I don’t believe most of us ever consciously decide to become emotional eaters. Medically, there is a biological predisposition that some of us have to consume more food than others, and also the way that certain foods are registered in our brain and our bodies are different.

Many of us started reaching for food to cope at a young age. An age before the part of our brain that is responsible for logical thought processes has fully developed. These coping strategies were born out of emotional and biological needs to make it through circumstances that we thought we could not otherwise deal with alone. It was not rational, logical (or even conscious for the most part)…it was based on survival.

Ok, so maybe I understand that part. However I am no longer a young child. I have access to a fully developed brain and I can now take care of my basic needs, so my survival is no longer dependent upon others. Why am I still eating when I’m not hungry? Am I making a conscious decision to do this?

First of all, coping strategies used consistently over time can become strongly entrenched habits. We create a neural super highway in our brains that reacts instantaneously when we are triggered. This means that many of us are on autopilot when it comes to reaching for food. To me a decision implies a conscious choice.

So while you might not think you are currently making a decision to eat emotionally, you are also not making a decision to stop eating emotionally. It’s like being born with Type 1 Diabetes. You didn’t decide to be diabetic, and you can decide about how you treat yourself.

The first step towards consciousness is awareness. So a decision that you can make right now is to become more aware of what feelings trigger the compulsion to reach for food. One of the ways you can start this is to keep a feeling log. Each time you eat, log your feelings. Sometimes the feeling may be hunger, and sometimes not. The important part here is that if you want to get clear about how and why you reach for food, this is the first decision you can make towards taking control of your eating. By taking a moment to be mindful before you eat.

It’s not your fault. And you can do something about it now.