I’m going to say something that might surprise you… basically EVERYONE has a disordered relationship with food!
You might be thinking, “Not me! I don’t!” Or “Yeah I totally do.” Either way I’m here to tell you there are very few people who haven’t had some funky thing with food at some point in their life.
I like to think of disordered eating as being on a spectrum. For some people it’s so minor they hardly notice. For others it consumes their life to the point of mental illness. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle.
You see, food is so much more than just food. It’s nice to think that food should only to be consumed for sustenance, but screw that! Food is comfort, food is memories, it’s pleasure, entertainment, an escape, I could go on and on. So why can’t we just accept it? Aren’t we tired of feeling guilty for wanting to eat, even when we aren’t hungry?
You might ask, “If I just stopped feeling guilty and ate whatever I wanted for whatever reason, won’t I gain an obscene amount of weight?!”
Here is a quote by one of my favorite authors, Geneen Roth, that offers good perspective on the subject:
“If you are overweight, you are eating when you’re not hungry. If you’re eating when you’re not hungry, you are eating for something else.”
So, the answer to your question is no. You won’t gain weight if you are simply in touch with what that “something else” is.
For example, if you want to have a piece of pumpkin pie after thanksgiving dinner, even though you are totally stuffed, go for it! However, instead of feeling guilty while you eat it, just enjoy it. Acknowledge you’re eating it because it’s your mom’s recipe and you look forward to it every year. Once the guilt is gone, so is the temptation for more.
On the other hand, let’s say you’re on the couch after a stressful day at work about to dig into a pint of ice cream. Just give yourself a moment to check in and ask, “Am I really hungry?” If the answer is no, dive deeper to find out what part of you really needs filling. No amount of ice cream is going to make your coworker stop throwing you under the bus in front of your boss.
When we use food to change our mood the result is always temporary, and we are often left feeling worse. It’s so not worth it, and you deserve better!
It’s time to get real. The truth is, food itself is not your problem. There’s something inside of you that needs attention and you’re using food to cover it up and then a diet to compensate. The whole cycle is an ingenious distraction! In fact, it’s wonderfully nice of your subconscious to protect you so well from uncomfortable emotions, but it’s time to find a way out. It’s time to find a better way of living.
So, before you start you’re next diet, please take the time to get real, and acknowledge other areas in your life that need some fulfillment. You were meant to live a full, purposeful life. Not waste time and energy counting calories and macro nutrients. You might have a disordered relationship with food but don’t worry, we all do, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Let your relationship with food illuminate what your needs really are. Then it can be the catalyst toward the fulfilled life you’re truly looking for.