“Why Diets Don’t, and Will Power Won’t Work!” — by Debora Wayne
You feel out of control. Worried. Overwhelmed.
You open the refrigerator door and rummage through, looking for that one “treat” that will make this whole day a little more bearable.
Something that will quiet down the voices. Stop the waves of confusion. Make you feel calm again.
You eat, hoping to stop the flow of feelings. To ground yourself in the moment.
Eating has become complicated, a fully controlled (and out of control) routine. Then come the feelings. The excuses. The promises. The hidden box of chocolates you devour in secret.
In the moments you reach for that bag of chips or the bowl of ice cream, it’s not a physical need you seek to satisfy. It’s a deep, dark emptiness that haunts you that you wish would just somehow go away.
The food provides momentary comfort . Brief Relief.
You’ve tried to stop this “bad” habit on your own.
You’ve done the diets. Sworn off junk food. Banned fats, and gone gluten-free. You’ve cleared the pantry and thrown out all the “bad” food.
You’ve read the books, listened to the webinars, and followed the experts’ advice.
And then, out of the blue, something happens, and despite everything, you find yourself in that same familiar place again, clutching that pint of ice cream like it’s the only thing that can pull you out of the darkness.
A terrifying thought comes into your mind.
Maybe I’m weak. Why does this keep happening to me? If I had more will power this would finally end.
You are not weak.
What’s happening to you isn’t a sign or a defect in your character.
I get it! I’ve been where you are.
I used to eat a pint ( or even 2!) of ice cream followed by an entire bag of cookies, and all in one sitting.
And then, I’d starve myself. I’d swear over and over again that tomorrow, I’ll stop…..I’ll never do this again! But then, just a few short days or weeks later, (sometimes even just a few hours later), I’d find myself sneaking back into the freezer…. With my spoon in the carton yet one more time…. and with no idea how I got there.
I felt so confused and guilty and mad at myself, and I could not figure out what was wrong with me!!! I was so disciplined in other areas of my life. Why couldn’t I control this?
On the surface, I appeared perfectly happy to the outside world.
However, no one knew about the demons lurking inside me….the constant worrying about whether I was good enough…Will they like me?…Did I say the right thing? …What will happen if?….You know, those thoughts.
Food gave me comfort, a taste of peace, a mental reprieve…. followed always by overwhelming feelings of guilt.
I was too ashamed to tell anyone. To reveal this failing.
When you reach for food to fill an emotional need, it’s not the same as eating a meal to satisfy your physical hunger.
You can’t stop because unlike the physical hunger, the emotional hunger takes a lot more than a few cookies to satisfy.
The hidden reasons.
It ran much deeper than food and I bet yours does too.
In my family, every bite of food I ate was monitored. I felt like I was always under a microscope.
My mother used food to nurture. Not eating until you cleaned your plate was a sign of disrespect.
I experienced a constant, consistent flow of mixed messages.
Instead of being nourishing, meal times became a stressful test I couldn’t pass. I dreaded sitting down to meals knowing that whatever I did would be noted, noticed and judged.
How did your emotional eating habits begin?
We learn how to eat and to think about food at a very young age. As children, we observe our parents, siblings, and caretakers, absorbing and adopting their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
As we grow up, these become ingrained habits, ones we don’t think about consciously.
To understand emotional eating, we have to go back in time.
Maybe you watched your mother overeat when she was stressed or angry, and you picked up the same habit subconsciously. Maybe you watched your father count portions.
Maybe you grew up in a household where food was scarce and so you developed a strong fear of never getting enough. Now, you find yourself eating even when you aren’t hungry — “just in case”… to keep the fear at bay.
Or maybe you were given a treat as a reward for being “good” or after passing tests in school, and now as an adult, with your constantly increasing workload, you find yourself “treating” yourself more and more.
It could even have been later on in your life. Maybe you were bedridden from illness or injury, or chronic pain, and your only source of comfort was food.
Whatever your reason, the way we eat and think and feel about food is deeply rooted in our past experiences.
Those experiences formed beliefs….that lead to choices…which become habits. Those habits become the patterns that make up your entire life!
At some point in your life, perhaps you began using food as a coping mechanism. As a way to cover up your feelings of disappointment, rejection or abandonment.
Was food a way to try and sooth your fear, or silence your anger?
Perhaps eating that cinnamon roll helps you keep quiet rather than risk being criticized dare you express your opinion or ask for what you need or want?
Does food bring you comfort, or is it a way to punish yourself, or even perhaps an attempt at controlling other people?
If so, that’s why dieting, fasting, cleansing, and diet pills,…..
going Vegan or Paleo… reading all the best “foodie” books, following “healthy” recipes and meal plans, have NOT been able to help you.
To heal, you have to get down to the root. The real reason you are eating in the first place.
What’s your relationship with food based on? What’s your motivation for eating just one more piece? How does eating make you feel? What hidden purpose does it serve?
Notice the first thoughts that come into your mind as you read these questions.
To heal from emotional eating you have to recognize the real reasons that drive your relationship with food.
It has nothing to do with willpower, discipline, or dieting.
In order to heal, you must learn to feel.
If you’d like to break free from emotional eating and painful patterns, discover the hidden reasons that lie at the root of your choices, then please accept my Complimentary Gift designed to help you ….
Originally published at painfreelivingprogram.com on November 11, 2016.