Week Six: What the F*#D is going on?
Food has not yet been the subject of one of my blog posts as I have been focused on matters related to starting my business, but it is high time that food grace the subject line as after all, the key to finding peace within our bodies relies on our ability to find peace with food. Having said all of that, I write this from the angle of a health coach who works with clients to help them forge a better relationship with food, and also from the personal perspective of someone who can fall fairly deep into the vat of food obsession. Ever have a day when you literally think about food all day? I know that I have. Fortunately, these days are less frequent as I have adopted a spiritual practice to help quiet the food monster that lives in my head, but for someone who enjoys good food and for someone who certainly has a tendency to emotionally eat, I too am a work in progress.
So for those of us who struggle with food obsession, what is really going on? Well, after a fair amount of reading and personal reflection, I have learned that most of us think about food as a way to avoid feeling what we are feeling. This became quite clear to me several months ago as I was driving home from work. I’d had a challenging day and I was tired. The idea of going home and dealing with all of the work that I still needed to do coupled with chores around the house was making me nuts, so I starting thinking about what Fran (my husband) and I would have for dinner. This led to how fast I could get this meal prepared so that I could eat it. This led to me walking in the front door and while my bags were still on my shoulder, setting up a plate of carrots and hummus as I didn’t think that I could wait five more minutes before eating something. The madness continued… As I began preparing dinner like a lunatic, Fran called to tell me he was stuck in traffic. Great, I had this meal all timed out and now it would be done before he got home. So I continued with my flurry of getting the table set and the food ready to slap on plates the second he walked in the door and when he finally did, I basically accosted him to go change and sit down as dinner was ready. The poor guy looked like he had whiplash. He was barely over the threshold and I was badgering him so that I could eat. So I ask, what the F*#D is going on?!? Wow, kind of embarrassing to share this story, as was his reaction when he looked at me and said, “can I put my bag down first?”
Later that night I reflected on my manic behavior and realized how I was desperately trying to use food to soothe my unsettled soul. The more I thought about it, I realized that I wasn’t even actually hungry, I was just obsessed with trying to make the feelings of angst go away. So what did I learn? Well, basically, I thought I was calming my anxiety with food, but in the end, I traded my work angst for food angst. Not very productive.
So what is this “spiritual practice” I referred to and how does it keep scenes like this from playing out on a nightly basis? First, I have become so much more aware of how I feel and more importantly of the feelings that I am trying to avoid. I’ve found that if I just FEEL them, they eventually move on like anything else. Second, anytime that I have attempted to use food to mask my feelings of discomfort, I usually end up feeling worse emotionally and physically because I will overeat or eat too fast. Finally, there is hope and you can find peace with food. If you read my blog, you know that I am a big fan of prayers and mantras to help me through times of distress; the same holds true for when I am obsessing over food.
Here is one of my ‘go to’ prayers when I feel myself really spinning over my next bite. Certainly replace “God” with whatever resonates for you, but try this out the next time you feel your mind racing. Keep practicing and reflecting and I promise that you too will begin to find a bit more peace within your body and with food.
Please free me from false appetites and take away my pain.
Take from me my compulsive self, and show me who I am.
Please give me a new beginning.
Unchain my heart so I might live a freer life at last.
Excerpted from: A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson
(Side note: I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to address issues with food obsession and weight loss.)
How do you deal with obsessive thoughts over food? Would love to hear what works for you! Please share in the comment section below.