A hopeful message to anyone who has failed at dieting and keeping the weight off.
If you have been on countless diets before and are feeling hopeless and frustrated - you are not alone! Diets fail when the underlying emotions, which cause you to eat when you aren't physically hungry, remain unaddressed. I often come across the “wounded child” during my counseling sessions; the little one that was left behind emotionally while growing up. It helps me understand the need to self-soothe with food (or drink) when clients share their struggle with weight and emotional eating issues.
Diets and restrictive calorie counting will only touch the surface and consequently fail - when those emotional issues get overlooked and ignored. Diets work short-term but then “life happens”, as most of my clients state when I ask them about their yo-yo dieting cycle. If one stays above the surface and tries fad diets, shakes, meal replacements, fasting, weight loss challenges etc. - staying at a healthy weight will be temporary. This makes a lot of sense.
Below you find my thoughts on how to find peace with food and your body - for good.
It takes courage to take a 'deep dive' into your early woundings.
There is no quick fix when it comes to understanding and overcoming well worn paths and old behavior patterns. Healing takes time and is never linear. The good news is that you CAN heal, you can repair and develop new healthy coping and self-soothing skills. It is never too late to 're-mother' yourself and learn to nurture and nourish yourself differently.
“I am gentle, kind,
and comforting to my inner child
as we uncover and release the old,
negative messages within us.”
- Louise Hay
Understanding emotional eating without judgment.
Which emotions cause you to reach for food when you are not physically hungry? Try to identify your most common triggers without any judgment - with gentle curiosity, i.e. stress, anxiety, boredom, a sense of feeling overwhelmed etc. Gently explore what’s causing your drive to eat for emotional reasons. I encourage you to journal and to take note, to uncover and to welcome old feelings that may have been buried for a long time and have been too painful to revisit.
I tell my clients that behavior always makes sense. Eating for emotional reasons helped you cope at one point in your life… when you didn’t have other self-soothing options available.
Case study Nancy: When Nancy was a young teenager she was paid $1 per hour to watch five-week old twin babies - for six whole hours. Feeling overwhelmed and anxious she started snacking to cope with this enormous responsibility. No young teenager should carry that kind of responsibility.
The “snacking when anxious” ritual persisted throughout her adult years. It made a lot of sense to me. During our therapeutic work together Nancy started to develop an understanding about this rather old pattern. The next step was to have compassion for herself and develop new soothing self-care strategies in times of uncertainty and anxiousness… and it worked!
Create an inner reservoir of self-love & self-compassion.
The therapeutic healing journey entails creating an inner reservoir of self-love, which is yours alone, not dependent on other people or external factors. It takes time to fill it slowly but once you learn to nurture yourself well you can’t unlearn it. The greatest gift you can give yourself is to look inward and fill yourself up with your own love and then share this love with the world around you. If this sounds too esoteric for you, let me give you some practical examples of what loving yourself could sound like:
Let’s say you overeat and start beating yourself up: “I can’t believe I just did that. I know better. Stupid me. I feel so uncomfortable.” The loving way of helping yourself out in that moment would be to say to yourself: “Oh well, I just ate a lot and wasn’t even hungry. I wonder what’s really going on? I know I have been anxious about that presentation at work. Ahhh… that’s probably why. Oh well, I love myself and will plan for a lighter meal later on. May be I’ll call a friend or write in my journal.” Done, end of story, no guilt necessary. Just kindness and compassion for yourself.
Each night before you go to bed, write down three things you are grateful for and three things you are proud of. We all do many things well every day and take them for granted. Once you start acknowledging your strengths and accomplishments your sense of wellbeing will shift.
Show yourself some love. Wish yourself well.
These are just some basic therapeutic components of my Mindful Eating & Emotional Self-Care Program. Please click this link and take a look at the various program options. My summer special runs through the end of July.
I offer an initial complimentary consultation so a client and I can assess whether we are a good fit for this deep healing journey.