There’s a great debate amongst people who have noticed eating issues in their lives: there’s a right way and a wrong way to eat. Right foods and wrong foods. Good. Bad. Allowed. Not allowed.
You don’t even have to feel compulsive about food, or that you’re a binge-eater, or call yourself someone with disordered eating or emotional eating to get into this debate.
You can be a fairly normal eater, and still feel anxious about when, what, how, where or what time to eat, right?
There’s even a fairly new (in the past couple of years) diagnosis for a type of eating problem, called Orthorexia. It simply means someone who is obsessed about eating the “right” food.
When you have this trouble, you can’t stop reading labels and feeling concern about getting the right food into your body.
So how do we think about (or feel about) what’s right for us when it comes to dieting, following a food plan, having structure?
For me, there are two things you want to look at closely, holding them central to whatever you’re choosing around food and eating: 1) kindness and support and 2) fear.
Here’s what I mean.
1) When it comes to kindness and support and what, when and how to eat….are your ideas, or what you’ve learned, or how you are eating supporting you? Is it kind? Or does it have a punishing, restrictive, dictator-like feel to it–where your thoughts about yourself are that you can’t be trusted and you can’t do it right and you’re no good, wrong, and always out of control?
If this is your belief about yourself, then you may not be willing and open to see why you eat off-balance in the first place, and what your reaching for food actually is trying to teach or show you.
When I used to binge eat, I was grabbing for comfort, expressing my rage, and trying to escape, all at once. There were many deeply traumatic emotional disruptions inside of me that were being expressed by the way I ate.
I didn’t binge ALL THE TIME either. It was NOT constant. I had some more relaxed days, and some chaotic ones. As I began to listen to my cravings and manic attacks about food, I could find other alternate support, or sit and wonder what was going on within.
My craving and reaching were powerful experiences showing me where my mind was off-balance and my thinking was panicked.
Which brings me to the other element or experience to look at and hold closely when it comes to the project of “how shall I eat?” and that is, as I mentioned, fear.
2) Here’s what you can ask yourself when it comes to awareness of fear: What’s the worst that could happen? What are you afraid of most of all? What frightens you about eating x or not eating y? Is there something you believe you have to live without (besides food)? Is there something you believe you’ve lost, forever? Are you scared of something happening again that happened before, and it was terrifying?
What is most scary about this whole eating thing?
I used to be so frightened of being heavy, or “fat”. I was also frightened of being greedy, or having huge desire for something. Having huge cravings or desire was BAD BAD BAD. Not just with food, but with anything; people, success, money, things.
In any case, in the middle of wondering how to eat, and taking a look at what will help you calm down (not be so scared) AND what is most kind for you….
….notice that even if you’re never sure exactly how to eat for the rest of your life, you can be kind to yourself today, now, with hunger and fullness and eating. AND you can feel safe, here, even without being perfect, and without being an expert.
Eating Peace Immersion starts in November. Registration will open at the end of October. Read about it here.
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