Reasons To Nourish Your Body.
Food Addictions and Emotional Eating Are Like Thieves In The Night.
One time my house got broken into. The thieves went through the whole house, riffling through drawers and cabinets. They stole personal things which had more than monetary value, like jewelery my wife had inherited from her dead mother. We have emotions and memories attached to things like that jewelery, which money from an insurance company cannot replace.
Thankfully we were not at home at the time or the situation might have been worse.
The experience left me feeling violated, angry, helpless, vulnerable, unsafe, anxious, and sad. There was a feeling of hopelessness because I knew those items would never be recovered. There was also a feeling of emptiness from the void left where personal items passed on from loved ones were missing.
It occurs to me now that many of those feelings left over from the burglary are also ones associated with emotional eating and food addictions. At the heart of it all is a sense of powerlessness, that we cannot control our own eating habits, that they control us. So taking steps to empower ourselves in the face of seemingly overwhelming addictions and emotions can be a powerful and healing experience.
The Right Reasons To Change
After the robbery of the house, I felt the need to do something to keep it from happening again. There was a need to regain some type of control over the situation. I installed an alarm system and we changed some habits - making sure the house was secure before leaving the premises. These changes went a long way to restoring a sense of safety in our home.
Due to the burglary we made some changes in our lives to make an uncomfortable situation more tenable.
You need to do the same thing in dealing with emotional eating and food addictions.
The reasons we choose to change our eating habits determine the goals we set for ourselves and have direct impact on the strength and duration of our self-motivation. We need strong motivation to maintain us through the challenges we will certainly face in our journey to a happier and healthier self.
The point I am trying to make is usually we need a good reason to make changes in our lives. The reasons you choose to eat in a more healthy manner (and lose weight in the process) are just as important. The typical reasons for some people to embark on a diet include such reasons as fitting into a bathing suit or other types of clothes, wanting to lose weight for a special occcasion like an upcoming wedding, wanting to look like a celebrity or other attractive people. Look at goals such as these and you will notice that the motivation is shallow, connected to short-term goals or unattainable goals. Few of us will ever look like a movie star, no matter how much we diet.
For some people short-term goals may work because they are able to keep adjusting their goals as they are reached. So maybe someone has a goal of losing 10 pounds to fit into a smaller dress size, but perhaps they really need to lose 20 pounds to reach a point where they are no longer overweight. They may be able to readjust their goal to lose the additional 10 pounds. But for most people shallow short-term goals are not going to work in the long-term because once the short-term goal is reached then old habits are allowed to return, or the goal is so shallow that in hard times the goal is too easily discarded for other short-term and perhaps unhealthy gains. Without a good reason, it is only too easy to reach for a candy bar instead of an apple.
Deeper, Long-Term Goals Can Last A Lifetime
Being able to connect to a deeper long-term goal has a way of strengthening and maintaining our motivation over longer periods - perhaps for a lifetime. So reasons connected to health, quality of life, or which have strong emotional underpinnings will usually provide more motivation over the long-term than shallow short-term goals. The nice thing about these types of reasons is that they are often self-perpetuating, i.e. as progress is made toward these types of goals they set up a positive feedback which makes us want to keep doing the healthy thing instead of continuing to be unhealthy.
Say you have arthritis in your knees. All the extra weight you carry makes walking difficult and painful. As a result, since you want to avoid pain, you also avoid exercise while eating badly because the bad foods produce endorphins and short-term pleasure which temporarily blocks out the pain. In truth you are only adding to your problems in the long-term because the bad foods are increasing your levels of inflammation and putting more stress on your already over-stressed skeletal system.
So you realize that your quality of life is hampered. You would like to be able to walk without as much pain like you did when you were younger. To have less pain and to enjoy a simple thing like a walk are actually good reasons to eat more healthy. So you learn about inflammatory foods and how to avoid them. You change your eating habits and quite quickly (for me it was just 3 days) you notice a significant reduction in your levels of pain. You have more energy and you feel like walking. Everyday you walk a bit more and a bit more and you find it enjoyable. The exercise helps to increase your weight loss while adding pleasure to your life.
Then something happens in your life, a stressor of some sort, maybe a bad day at work. You reach for your comfort food like a loaf of French bread, or a bag of Thin Mints. The next day the pain in your knees returns and you feel sluggish and hungover. You realize that feeling good and healthy is better than the short-term pleasure and escape afforded by the comfort foods. So you forgive yourself for returning to your old ways and begin eating in a healthy fashion again. And you feel better and better; and you know that feeling good, feeling well is so much better than escaping through bad foods.
I can cite any number of examples here of deep reasons to pursue a healthy relationship with food. If you want more just shoot me an email. The point is to find some reason that has resonance and meaning to you that you can adopt to carry you through the temptations and emotional compulsions that conspire to thwart your happiness and health.
I challenge you to find good reasons to be more healthy and happy. Reasons that will last a lifetime.