I struggled with what I ate for 15 years. It took me that long to understand what I had to do if I wanted to feel less insane around food, and more at ease and relaxed. I finally learned that it was about welcoming the very eating pattern I so much resented, and staying with it. Today, I describe this process as learning how to build a different way of being, a new identity.
My mistake was stubbornly trying to control and tame my impulse to overeat. I resented and avoided it.
As expected, I failed often and gave in to food—that’s the natural response to resistance. I tried willpower and self-discipline, distracting myself when the urge to overeat aroused and chewing a lot of gum. When the avoidance tactics worked, I felt successful. I remember asking my now husband not to buy cereal or bread when we first moved in together, for example. I thought the way to control my compulsion was “sterilizing” my environment and removing “temptations”.
That was me: A woman who loses control around food. That was my identity. Period. I couldn’t see myself being any different.
Back then, I didn’t see that by controlling and avoiding, I was running away from valuable opportunities to transform the very habit or tendency I wanted to dominate. The issue with avoidance is that the craving eventually comes back. It’s like using a band aid on a serious wound.
The answer to how to stop eating out of control is in eating out of control itself. I first experienced this in 2012. I was heartbroken in a new city, and all I wanted was to shut down the blinds and go to the food. Instead, I paused for a few seconds and simply started crying (I call this the Miracle Pause). I stayed in the desire to overeat. I allowed myself to feel it in the body. I cried a lot. I didn’t try to control nor avoid it.
It was the first time I had not gone to the food to soothe emotional discomfort. I repeated this process many times after that. It got easier. With time, I realized it was possible to be different.
It was possible to be the woman who is heart-broken and cries. Not, the woman who is heart-broken, cries and binge-eats. I realized I always have a choice.
Without a doubt, building awareness was one of the most helpful actions that enabled me to experience the Miracle Pause and stay with the desire to overeat. Awareness allowed me to catch myself feeling the pain of a broken heart and see myself planning the perfect binge. Awareness helped me notice that I was perpetuating a specific way of being or identity every time I went to the food to deal with discomfort. I credit meditation for opening this door for me.
This dynamic can be applied to any behavior you want to transform. Next time that behavior arises, don’t resist it. Stay there and see how you can choose a different, wiser path. The key is in taking a different path and experiencing a new outcome, a new way of being. From then on, everything is easier.
Because awareness and meditation have been so powerful in my life and work with clients, I go deeper into these topics, as well as overeating and freedom of choice in my latest podcast episode with Meg Doll on the Unbreakable You podcast. Don’t miss it!
Written by Lina Salazar
The information provided in this post is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use.