This month we will take a slightly different approach to our continuing discussion on how to become an intuitive eater. First, I want to share a brief overview on the next two principles—Discover the Satisfaction Factor and Cope with Your Emotions without Using Food—and then I would like to share with you just a bit of my own personal journey from disordered eating to wholeness.So, without further ado…let’s jump right in!
Principles Six and Seven: Discover the Satisfaction Factor and Cope with Your Emotions without Using Food
Most chronic dieters have lost, or never have discovered, the simple pleasure of eating. In the quest to be thin, we equate the pleasure of eating with outof- control weight gain. And it simply isn’t so. The truth of the matter is just the opposite. If you fail at finding satisfaction in your food choices, the chances are much greater that you will overeat.
The authors of the original Intuitive Eating—Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch— share a story about one client who craved a piece of cornbread with lunch.
However, she denied herself this pleasure, not only at lunch but at dinner also, for she was convinced that it was an unhealthy choice. That night, she ate six Weight Watchers® desserts in hopes of satisfying her cornbread craving. And with an overly full belly of excessive calories, she learned the principle of satisfaction: no amount of diet desserts would satisfy her cornbread craving.
Regaining pleasure in eating will require some intentional steps, such as determining what you really want to eat, and then giving yourself permission to eat it; learning to be present to the here and now rather than focusing on rules, regulations, and calorie counters; and beginning to taste and savor the food you are eating. Understanding what you like and believing that you have the right to enjoy food will be crucial to living a satisfied life of weight control without dieting.
The essence of our next principle is summed up by Tribole and Resch in the following way: “Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emoTional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run”.
Learning to cope with emotional eating without using food begins with asking yourself four basic questions: Am I biologically hungry? What am I feeling?What do I need? How can I get this need met other than through food? If the answer to the first question is yes, then review the previous six principles and eat intuitively. If the answer is no, then proceed with the remaining three questions, especially focusing on the last. Getting rest, expressing your feelings through talking or journaling, and receiving comfort and warmth from a trusted friend are some ways that you can get your emotional needs met apart from food. However, I would like to share with you just a glimpse of my path out of the pit of emotional and disordered eating.
A Little About My Journey
For about 15 years or so, I fought a monster within me named Bulimia. While the behaviors of the disorder manifested during my senior year in high school, food and weight were becoming my focus as young as age 8. I can remember times of feeling so anxious I thought I would come out of my skin…lonely, afraid, and insecure. Because I was unaware of how to handle these emotions— or even what the emotions were—I began focusing on weight, what I looked like, how I could avoid eating, and how I could rid my body of the food I did eat.
I was caught in a vicious and ugly cycle that would include two inpatient treatments, several trips to the hospital, and a whole lot of shame, secrecy, and isolation. The satisfaction I was looking for in life was elusive. My emotions were too uncomfortable to face. I was a lost soul, empty and afraid of who I was and…of who I wasn’t.
Many people have asked about my recovery. And while there were various points of healing along the way, the one thing that nailed the lid on the coffin in which my monster was finally buried was a renewed relationship with God.
It wasn’t until I realized that I was trying desperately to be in control of my life (and failing miserably) and chose to surrender my control to a very loving and gracious God that I finally began to walk in freedom from the pain. The road was not easy, and I certainly stumbled along the way. But as I began to Learn who God really is (through the Bible) and as I began to know Him, my feeble legs grew stronger as I walked the path to healing. Then the words of Psalm 145 became alive for me, as they can for you too.
“The LORD is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all He does.
The LORD upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to You (LORD), and You give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”