“My weight has gone up and down for years.
I am desperate for a detox or something right now.
I need to get a hold of this thing.”
I was just reading this email last night, and what struck me is that a couple of paragraphs below, the person reaching out to me also shared:
“I know this is an emotional and spiritual issue…”
This is often the case. Some part of us knows.
We might know through experiencing emotional up and downs, feelings of emptiness, loss of joy or purpose.
Our bodies might tell us through bloating and constipation, low back pain and headaches.
We walk around, a heavy lump in our throat, getting tested for this issue and that issue, only to be told everything is normal.
On occasion, we may even explode at loved ones, unaware of where that anger came from, blissfully disconnected from the pool of resentment or exhaustion that sits under the surface.
Repeated dreams tell us through images
Being stuck in houses with many rooms and no way out.
Rushing to get out the door only to miss the plane.
Crashing our car off a cliff.
…and even through showing us parts of our bodies growing so large that we can’t recognize ourselves at all when we look in the dream mirror.
Horrified, we wake up.
The diet culture space has no lack of detoxes, cleanses, and resets.
And of course, when you are scared and worried — when you want some sense of structure and meaning in your life — they seem like the logical way out.
For many of the people I work with, who live with the adaptations caused by developmental trauma, being able to move the needle on emotional pain is key.
We walk around in so much pain that any discomfort we can remove by creating structure and a sense of control temporarily takes us out of the zone of hopelessness and despair and into the zone of action.
Think of it as thawing out the freeze through creating some fight or flight energy, just to not feel the freeze, even for a bit…
Unaware of the complexity of our survival structures, we often act before we are ready.
We act not because we are ready, but because we don’t know how else to get out of the pain.
We let the part of us that feels ready, protecting the part that’s desperate and scared, take the lead.
We let those two do the shopping and the juicing and the rejoicing that the scale numbers move.
But many of us don’t have the ability or support to explore what else is there.
We don’t have anyone to sit with and ask us some big questions.
“What’s the reason that I am so scared of this weight?”
- While a part of me doesn’t like this weight, is there another part of me that actually prefers that I stay at this weight?
- These eating behaviors I shame and hate myself for – when did they begin? Does it make sense that they were once my only wise choice?
- In the past when I’ve lost the weight, what did I have to confront – emotionally, somatically?
- What was comfortable and uncomfortable about that?
- Was all of me glad to receive the compliments and attention? Did all of me feel safe in this more visible body?
- What emotions are there when I turn to food? Is there something unsafe about feeling them?
- Am I able to identify my more complex needs outside of looking or feeling a certain way?
- Is my body able to safely embody a new energy? Am I safe to feel my life force? Can I walk around in the world fully lit up, able to make an impact, able to act on my desires and impulses?
- What happens to my ability to be intimate and sexual when I am at a lower weight? To my closest relationships? With my family of origin? My chosen family?
- How is my spiritual belonging affected? Where are my spirit, values, and beliefs at odds with how I am acting?
- Is there an archetypal energy at work here? Who am I in the fairy tale of my life? If my life was really a fairy tale, which one is it? And what roles have I unconsciously signed up to play here?
These are just a fraction of the questions you can ask yourself before you embark on any change in your diet.
Very few of them are about food – because it’s not about the food.
Let me land us with this.
I just got a message from a student who was in my very first Peace with Food Transformation Group.
There’s actually a student story interview with her in the student stories section above.
“I’ve been thinking of you these last couple of weeks as with the start of the new year always comes the push for weight loss or gym memberships. This year it’s been amazing as those ads are just background noise for me.
Previously I always felt I needed to join up, set the weight goals, just because…
Remaining eternally grateful to you for revealing the path to peace in my body and soul…”
There is much to explore on the path to peace with food. I don’t think it’s for everyone. But if something is tugging on your heart, feel free to reach out.
I teach my monthly intro workshop about emotional eating and the nervous system regularly.
You can learn more about it and sign up for the next one here.
I invite you to join me if you feel ready to have a new perspective, to really do something different this time.
In peace with food: