Thursday, August 12, 2010

Self-Examining Eating Issues

Why do we have disorderly eating patterns and why is it so difficult to overcome these? I’ve worked with thousands of patients over the years, both in my office and online, most asking the same question. Some know the answers, but do not welcome them for it’s easier to stay in denial, to give permission to fail, so as to not face the truth and do the work involved. Lynn-Ellen, a high profile television writer, attended one of my workshops. Her food and beverage intake assessment made it easy to know why she was over-weight and I was surprised that she didn’t seem to know this. When I suggested some changes she became incredibly angry and went into a tirade about how stress-filled her days were and if this were the way, she certainly would have done it by now. Lynn-Ellen is an emotional eater who will need a very different approach in order to be successful at losing weight & staying healthy.

For the emotional eater, the idea of changing one’s eating habits can be very frightening and even simple or mild changes can be met with all sorts of procrastination devices. The level of creativity and emotional states enlisted to protect the self from even beginning to change can be quite something to observe. Food related thoughts can play out in the DVD of the mind throughout the day and especially when stress is high or when involved in triggering situations such as shopping, restaurants, social occasions and the workplace. Certain emotions have higher trigger value than others depending on the individual.

Some emotional eaters trigger when home alone or in the middle of the night, even keeping food hidden under the pillow or the bed to avoid bringing attention to a cupboard raid. Others eat in the car, hiding wrappings under the seat until they can dispose of them safely. The time of day can a full-blown binge, many occurring on the way home from work, a good time to release work stress before entering home-based stress. Compulsions can be intensely draining, attacking the emotional eater with real physical and/or emotional pain.

How does one begin to take control of such a complex situation and stay motivated long enough to build new habits? In my experience, I like to take the emotional eater into a nutritional self-discipline, working forward from there. It helps to know that practicing poor nutrition is not a small thing. It’s akin to digging a big dangerous hole while teetering on the edge. For most of us, there is no time to waste. The following steps are etched into the mind and traced over and over again.

The Physical Component

Lynn-Ellen needs to get to know her self and what her body needs. Each of us was born with genetic tendencies towards all sorts of things, including certain diseases. Genetics are wonderful wake-up tools because they guide us towards knowing what our body and mind needs in order to stay well over the course of our lifetime. Ignoring genetics is asking for trouble. The body and mind have specific needs in relation to food and beverage, as well as timings for having these. The body is a machine that needs to be taken care of in a very specific way. If this is ignored the mind will be headed for trouble as well. Everything is about getting this right.

The Emotional Component

Managing disorderly eating means being willing to look at many aspects of our personality, including the lessons of our early mentors, including parents, family members, siblings, teachers, friends and whoever handed us our belief system. Whether we are addicted or not, part of what ails us can be found in these lessons. Once we are willing to identify these and not shy away, we can learn to release them or at least part of them. Lynn-Ellen, like many of us, didn’t get the self-nurturing she needed as a child, or even later in life. Perhaps she weren’t allowed to express her emotions in a healthy manner. Maybe she didn’t learn to self-regulate or to set healthy boundaries for her self.

When these tools of self-management are not sufficiently developed or missing entirely, one tends to go to excess to manage the unresolved stress. Going to excess over and over again, etches the habit into the subconscious mind where it is ready answer to any stress chemical production.. It can certainly be frightening to be without one’s habit when stress appears.

The Higher Self Component

Each of us has a Higher Self. This part is mature, balanced & knowing. This part does not hide from the truth, no matter how painful. It embraces it, getting to know it intimately. The Higher Self understands that facing reality is the way to freedom from emotional eating. Connecting frequently through the practice of Interactive Self-Hypnosis or specially designed inner work allows one to self-examine & to manage the surrounding emotions. Lynn-Ellen is learning that managing her emotional eating is a journey in self-discovery & can be the catalyst for change throughout a good portion of her life.

2010 copyrighted.  May not be reproduced without permission of author.