We Eat Who We Are
We’ve all heard the phrase ” you are what you eat!” …But often times it’s more like, “you eat what you are.”
In other words, “you eat how you think” and, “you eat how you feel”
As a psychotherapist, every day, I meet with people who are struggling with depression, anxiety, loss, trauma, stress, or chronic pain and illness. Usually, these struggles have gone on for a very long time…. we tend to push down, and push onwards, taking our pain with us, until the symptoms get our attention!
By the time someone is sitting across from me, multiple symptoms have developed and most, if not all of the time, this includes the person’s relationship with food. I see over eating, binge eating, secret eating, cravings, under eating, skipped meals, and intentionally starving self. On occasion, these negative eating habits become addictive themselves and body dysmorphia and/or full-blown eating disorders develop. So how do we deal with this???
Simple yet effective things like setting short term goals to incrementally improve daily routines will go a long way. Avoid thinking too far ahead because the distant future can change. Work on habits for sleeping, eating, leisure and exercise, because we know that when we activate even before we motivate, it will improve the likelihood that we will tackle more important psychological issues.
Food and drugs can cause chemical cycles. So like Kyle always says, eating protein with healthy vegetables can assist in having better control over depression, anxiety, and anger (via blood sugar management and thus better mood). It helps if we are physically healthy if we are to take on mental challenges.
More on our mental game: First, have specific personalized cognitive strategies. Learn how to deal more effectively with negative thoughts and mindlessness, as these inflate our stress reactions.
I’ve developed a specialized “C-H-A-N-G-E” program for clients to tackle this! Unrealistic thinking patterns will increase stress and an increase in stress leads us right back to poor self care including unhealthy nutrition. Modifying these thoughts gives us back our real power in ultimately how we communicate and what decisions we make…. If the eating problem has become part of an ingrained pattern of food addictive behaviors serving to mask and medicate negative feelings and thoughts, completing a relapse prevention plan is very helpful towards building “detours” from those situations, thoughts, emotions and actions associated with the poor eating cycles, otherwise we easily go in circles, continuing to do the same things over and over even when it’s not working for us.
Finally, complete a deeper healing therapeutic process by finding resolution to the underlying mental and emotional meanings attached to the poor eating….the poor eating is the symptom, but what is the root cause?.. common causes I see are… old family or relationship patterns that conditioned food with self worth, having too much or too little control in our earlier or current life, emotional abuse that focused on our appearance and weight, trauma that was soothed through food, and experiences of severe emotional deprivation and neglect. Working through these and figuring out how that applies to your life now is key.
….Look for my interview in the 2020 release of a documentary film about eating disorders ( details currently under wraps)!.. it’s a film about strength, courage and hope. We all have our struggles and imperfections. Pain is our invitation to grow and live to our fullest potential….our relationship with food included!