Food is not your enemy.
For many of us, if we had to describe our relationship with food, it would be, “It’s complicated.” Whether you grew up in a house where food issues were present, or have struggled with an eating disorder, or have been known to stand in front of the freezer bingeing on ice cream at 10:30 at night, we can spend a lot of energy trying to keep our food issues in check, or beating ourselves up for it when we don’t. But it’s possible to reframe your relationship with food and free up that energy in your life, so that you can live at full amplitude!
I’m definitely not in the “food is just fuel,” camp, but food is also not the way to avoid your feelings. As Intuitive Eating Coach Isabel Foxen Duke has said:
“Food is not ‘just fuel.’ Just like sex is not just reproduction.”
- Isabel Foxen Duke
Eating is a very sensory experience; it’s normal to take pleasure in the act of eating. But that’s different than eating because you need to feel pleasure right this second rather than feel whatever else is coming up in your life.
For me, when I started to become more aware of how I was using food to mask feelings, I noticed that I started eating differently because I was more aware of how things tasted, how hungry I actually was, and what foods I was really craving, as opposed to those that I was habitually drawn to because they had become emotional crutches in my life.
For example, when I was working a 9-to-5 job as a communications consultant, feeling unfulfilled and dealing with a difficult work environment (read more on that here), I ate a breakfast sandwich from the deli across the street every single morning. I had gotten into the habit of eating it as a way to get through my day. It didn’t matter that it sat like a rock in my stomach, and that I actually felt much more energized when I had a blueberry smoothie instead. That sandwich was the thing that kept me from having a meltdown when I walked into the office every day, and I couldn’t fathom starting my day without it.
When I became aware of this habit and stopped eating the gross breakfast sandwich, I was forced to acknowledge how I felt about my job and began to make changes in my life that led me to where I am today. By decoupling food from the emotions I was trying to avoid, I was forced to deal with those feelings and the situations that were causing them. It was unpleasant at first, but my life has completely transformed as a result, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Healing my food issues actually became a mechanism that lead me to transform my entire life!
To be clear, I haven’t lost any weight since I began reframing my relationship with food: I weigh roughly what I weighed two and a half years ago. But I’m MUCH happier, and I really enjoy interacting with food in a way that I never could before. I also feel more energized and am able to be more active than I was, so while I’m not taking calipers to myself to test body fat, I know that my body composition has changed for the better.
Maybe if you begin the process of healing your food issues, you will drop 50 pounds. Or maybe you’ll gain 15. Or maybe, like me, you’ll stay the same. It’s not about weight loss―it’s about feeling better by really feeling your feelings.
You deserve to enjoy food the way that it is meant to be enjoyed, and to not feel bound by the food issues that you might be grappling with today. It doesn’t take a pill, or a shake mix, or any other snake oil or fad diet to rid you of your food issues. It just takes courage, honesty, and your own intuition.
Check out the #healthyatanysize community to find support and connect with other women who are working on this, too!