For years I used food as a way to avoid feeling my emotions, and if I am totally honest, as a way of self-punishment.
If I felt angry or hurt by someone then I would eat because I felt way more comfortable feeling guilty then I did feeling angry or hurt.
Why is that?
Because guilt is very self-directed, and I felt more comfortable feeling guilty with myself than angry at someone else.
This made me extremely internally-focused, and also meant I could avoid confrontation and I never would reach out for help, and this was really the crux of my problem, trying to do everything myself.
For years (decades even) I never saw this. I thought food was the problem.
So I went from diet to diet, trying to fix my problem with food. Never realising that food wasn’t the problem at all – it was only ever a symptom.
I can’t pin-point exactly when I realised that it was never really about the food, instead it was about my entire self worth. Gradually it came into focus until one day it all just seemed to click.
If you are reading this and it’s resonating with you but you can’t fully accept it yet, that is totally ok. I think this is a realisation that you have to reach on your own. People can tell you, but until you discover it for yourself it doesn’t really ‘land’.
I know for me I read a number of books and spoke to a number of coaches who said this exact same thing to me and it didn’t really register for me at the time.
But one day when it clicked, I finally got it, and was sending them emails going “it’s not about the food” and they would right back and say “YES!”
Another thing I will share is that for me this wasn’t a one time realisation and everything was fixed (sorry to burst that bubble).
I still struggle with food and my emotions. I still get triggered and find myself with the fridge open.
The difference now is – I don’t beat myself up about it. Instead of feeling guilty and beating myself up, I say “isn’t this interesting? What are these feelings and where did they come from?” And I explore how I am feeling.
Sometimes I still eat, but it’s conscious, I am aware I am eating to deal with how I am feeling and as a result I eat a lot less. A scoop of ice cream is normally enough (rather than a whole tub).
For many years I thought I wasn’t ‘fixed’ yet as I still reach for food when triggered.
It wasn’t until recently that I’ve realised that I might always reach for food. It’s my ‘go to move’ but that doesn’t mean I haven’t made progress and that doesn’t mean I haven’t truly healed.
It’s just the way I am wired. I may not be able to change what happens when I am triggered, but I can change the outcome, with awareness, self love and a lot of self compassion x