Hello and welcome to eating peace.
Eating Peace facilitates people to end their crazy, compulsive, wild, violent, despairing relationship with food, eating, weight, and their bodies.
Our usual approach to our eating issues looks like this fighting fist. Angry. “Fed up!”
Have you tried dozens of diets, or planned hundreds of times to change the way you eat….with no permanent peace or freedom?
Have you gained and lost weight over the months and years, and felt out of control or unsteady, or doomed, no matter what you weigh?
Are you tired of the solution to eating woes that have a primary focus on nutrition, diet, measurements, exercise training, scales, numbers and management of food itself? (Gosh, let’s try a new diet plan!)
Do you criticize yourself relentlessly, battle with cravings, or wonder what you’re missing that causes binge-eating, graze-eating, dissatisfaction, or a pushy military approach to moving your body?
If any of these experiences are true for you, you’re in the right place.
And it doesn’t have to be this way.
The Eating Peace Process digs deep into the underlying cause or purpose of war-like eating, off-balance eating, disordered eating, diet-plan eating, sneaky eating, craving eating, compulsive eating.
Instead of quickly solving the problem with a way to control food and exercise, like a technical fix or bandaid that covers a wound….we go backwards into exploring the origin of the trouble: feelings and thoughts.
A common theory in the study of human behavior by many scientific researchers is that our thoughts and feelings lead to actions (which then lead to more feelings and thoughts and actions).
How we act naturally has brought us the results we have.
The study of childhood development , as well as animal behavior, is most well-known by many of us through Ivan Pavlov, who rang a bell when feeding dogs and published his findings and analyses in 1927.
Far more research has been done since then, but the simple awareness of how behavior happens is through the following cycle. Sometimes, this cycle is conditioned in us through time, through experience, through repetition:
Think – Feel – Act – Have
The natural order of things is: I think something, I’m aware of something–this causes feelings–and I then act based on what I’m conscious of or what I believe. The results may be rational, or appear to be more irrational.
This eating thing seems irrational….right?
It certainly was for me. My name is Grace Bell, and Eating Peace was once unheard of for me. Something felt like I’d go unconscious like a zombie and head for the food. I’d say to myself “I don’t care! I need to eat it!” and it was as if I’d “wake up” later with the terrible guilty thoughts “why did I do that again?”
I didn’t want a food plan or a diet. They never worked long-term anyway. I wanted to feel free to eat, or not eat. I didn’t want to label myself as a wreck with food forever, or call myself a food addict. Something within me knew I wasn’t born missing what other normal-eaters had.
So what was going “wrong”?
I knew I needed to find out.
First, I gave up dieting for good. I had been on many including eliminating all kinds of foods, or adding in others. I had even controlled myself very diligently for two years with a plan I first learned from Overeaters Anonymous. I didn’t want to live my life believing I had to control the way I ate with my mind forever.
I began to study the micro-moments on a daily basis when I considered food, or remembered moments with food and eating from my past. I studied my thoughts, feelings and behaviors in my life. I joined a regular therapy group and got a degree in Applied Behavioral Science. I was determined to understand this insanity with eating for myself.
Here’s what I learned in the process of studying this movement to eating off balance (when not hungry):
- I’m thinking, seeing, understanding or believing something stressful
- I feel frightened, anxious, sad, empty, lonely, irritable, worried, upset, powerless–the feelings are uncomfortable, maybe frightening
- I move towards what will help soothe, relieve, comfort, please, diminish, help me avoid, calm down, return to safety, fulfill, relax, accept, forget (this is commonly the experience of any compulsion or addictive process with any substance or activity)
- My results, or what I have, is uncomfortable fullness, extra weight, maybe hours spent eating and purging OR thinking about eating and reading labels, self-hatred, frustration, confusion. My results, or what I have, are an immense focus on the food, eating, and me and my behavior as something “horrible”.
Then the loop would repeat itself, over and over again.
What I found was that I always focused on the ACTION before studying this cycle more deeply. I criticized how I behaved. I condemned it. I hated it.
The Eating Peace Process is a method of understanding the source of the pain, frustration and sense of powerlessness: our stressful thinking.
There’s good news.
We can identify and question what we think, sort it out, wonder about it, become aware of it, and question it. We can make friends with our minds, and not take it so seriously. We can discover unconscious or hidden ideas, beliefs, motives or memories that have been fueling our approach to eating….sometimes since we were very young.
It’s not as big of a deal as it seems.
You don’t need years of therapy, or to understand years of unconscious or uncomfortable beliefs. You don’t have to feel entirely at peace with everything you’ve ever thought.
There are really three primary areas where the urge to escape, and addictive or compulsive patterns appear in human behavior: the feelings of powerlessness, emptiness, or fear.
The beliefs or thoughts in the mind that produce these feelings may seem obvious….but I missed them constantly in my striving for clarity with eating.
These general underlying painful beliefs I had that caused me to reach for food were these three:
- I’m powerless in this situation
- I’m afraid (and must get to safety)
- I’m empty (unsatisfied, longing for connection, unfulfilled, lacking pleasure). And a sub-group inside the experience of emptiness: I’m bored (apathetic, seeking stimulation, wishing for entertainment, useless).
I began to see in greater and greater detail what stories and thoughts I was believing that caused these difficult feelings. My feelings were the barometer, the inner compass. They said “something’s wrong.”
I had to be a detective, and open up to those feelings, to find out what.
The first step I found useful in the process of understanding my experience of eating, was to simply notice and name my feelings.
I could do that.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or tricky. It does take some patience and willingness, and likely even some courage.
Once you have identified a stressful belief, you can start to question it.
The best and most simple way I’ve found to question painful beliefs of any kind is with The Work of Byron Katie. This method gives no answers–you find your own–but the questions are so powerful, they can bring out your own innate wisdom and loving kindness through contemplating them, and answering them.
Four questions. Your answers.
What happens when we do The Work?
Our off-balance and troubling beliefs begin to dissolve or fade away. Clarity steps in, with a big dose of understanding about what’s been driving us to eat, starve, diet, or do anything that isn’t loving and supportive.
It’s a process.
An incredibly rewarding one. A process of actually watching the way we behave with food become different, from the inside out.
For those people willing to enter the realm of feelings and use them to understand the mind and the thought and situation that stimulated the feeling, the path can seem hard. It’s not necessarily easy to unravel years of compulsive eating patterns, and conflicted behavior.
And yet, maybe it will be faster than you think.
For this is yet another set of beliefs we can question that tend to keep us stuck: this will take too long, this is too much work, I can’t stop eating, it’s impossible to find a balanced weight, I’ll never find peace.
But I found that instead of needing to control the way I was ACTING (eating, meals, counting, weighing, measuring, planning), when I wondered about my difficult feelings, and then investigated what happened to produce the feeling, I discovered very interesting patterns. I discovered echoes from my past.
I discovered that much of what I believed about hunger, fullness, being heavy, being thin, being safe, being loved, having enough, food, and eating itself….was not actually true.
What an amazing experience to realize what we’re thinking is not actually true for us.
I once thought I was hopeless when it came to eating and food. I would overeat, binge-eat, over-exercise, starve, force vomiting, and feel completely powerless when it came to eating peacefully. Peace and Eating did not go together. Ever.
But now, my life is relaxed with food and eating on a daily basis, and I know it’s possible for anyone.
No matter how crazy you’ve gone with food, eating, or trying hard to make your body and weight “right”, if you’ve tried everything and can barely find the energy to try one more thing….you’re in the right place.
Peace really is possible for you, or for anyone with a compulsion and off-balance eating. It all begins in the mind, with our perceptions of what’s so. When this is stressful and frightening, and we haven’t questioned our thinking and found another way to look at what is….we suffer.
We can question our painful perceptions, in every area, including food, eating, body image, and anything that’s ever happened to us that hurts. And find peace.
So let’s do The Work of Byron Katie right now on a thought almost everyone has when they’re filled with cravings to eat something when you’re not hungry.
Here’s an obvious top-of-the-mind belief that can be infuriating: I HAVE TO eat when I have this craving.
Question One: IS THAT TRUE?
Yes. I’ve done it for years. I crave x and even if I resist and hold off, or think of it all day long, at the end of the resistance the only thing that makes it go away is EATING IT.
Question Two: Can you absolutely know that’s true? Beyond a shadow of any doubt? Are you sure you HAVE TO eat something you crave, in order for the craving to end?
No. I’ve been interrupted by something, like another thought, and stopped racing towards the food. A short pause in the intensity has offered an in-breath of waiting. I’ve noticed cravings fade away, like the tide. I can’t absolutely know the only way to end a craving, is having to eat. I’ve also craved other things, and not moved towards them. I’ve craved money, but never stolen any.
Even if you answer the second question with “yes” you can keep going in this process.
Question Three: How do you react when you believe you have to eat?
The way I used to react, is I would drop everything and focus only on getting the next bite, and the next, and sneaking it, and feeling guilty, and like a failure. I’d spend money, I’d drive around like a crazy person placing food on my passenger seat in my car, eating while steering. I’d eat until I couldn’t take it anymore, until I was sick.
Question Four: Who would you be without the belief “I have to eat NOW?” What would it be like to NOT think this thought?
Even if you still have a craving, what would it be like to not have to follow the scream that you have to eat immediately? This isn’t about discipline and forcing yourself to never, ever eat. It’s only wondering what it would be like not to believe your thinking. What else is going on for you? What else are you thinking? What are you feeling?
How does it feel to imagine what it’s like without this stressful thought?
Now the last part of The Work is finding turnarounds to your thought, one turnaround at a time.
Turn Around: I do NOT have to eat. How is this just as true, or truer, that you don’t have to eat in order to end the craving, or to be happy?
Turn Around: I have to NOT eat. Yes. If I want to see what it is I am truly afraid of, or feeling powerless about, or feeling empty for. Yes. If I want to experience the truth that something present is larger and more expansive than my stressful thoughts.
Turn Around: I have to think. I have to feel. The way I found this to be true, is that I had to consider my feelings and thoughts with love and compassion. Not anger and resistance.
The whole eating peace process winds up looking like open hands, instead of closed fists. Instead of fighting, we’re open to what is, including every uncomfortable thought and feeling.
In fact, our feelings and thoughts are messengers, invitations, temple bells. They’re whispering (or OK, shouting) for us to inquire.
Question your thinking, change your eating. Yes you can.
To get started with further help in understand this profound experience of ending eating wars, visit HERE to download for no charge the powerful guide: Seven Foundations To Help You Eat In Peace For The Rest Of Your Life. You will get on the Eating Peace mailing list (you can unsubscribe any time).
You may also love watching my free webinar with Seven Beliefs that keep most people from finding peace with food….and how to dissolve them. Sign up to watch it right here:
With love, Grace