Learning to Control Your Relationship With Food
Our relationship with our bodies and food mirrors the relationship we have with ourselves. Both are a beautiful mirror to show us where we are scared, depressed, or feeling powerless. They are not the enemy, but rather our teachers. And as a student our job is to learn. Life is a classroom, and the biggest lessons we can learn are often times based in our area(s) of struggle.
In order to get the lesson, to move on from it, we must be willing to try a new way. No more controlling. No more rules. No more avoidance.
Gather Your Courage
Trying to control our relationship with food and the size of our body is like trying to control our emotions. It backfires. It may work for a moment in time, but it doesn’t last. How can it? Remember, our body and our behaviors are messengers with an important information for us. It takes courage to be willing to look within instead of trying to control or achieve an outcome. It requires patience and a willingness to be humble.
Whatever the details are in your situation, I can assure you it is not about the food and it is not about the size of your body. They both serve as a place where we can cast our intense feelings that are too overwhelming to deal with. Again, here we are with the understanding that our body is the messenger.
The way we approach healing body image and food tendencies is different than substance abuse. We must create a relationship with food and ourselves that works for us, whereas with alcohol and drugs, a person can simply leave the relationship. This luxury does not exist with food. And thank goodness, as when we are in right relationship with it, it serves as a way to connect with others, enjoy our senses, and can even be a creative outlet. We don’t want to just put it down.
How to Heal
The question becomes, how does one go about healing their relationship with food? First, recognize that if you are facing this issue, taking judgment off the table is essential. Having a challenging relationship with food does not mean you have “another problem,” but rather that you have several areas where your addictive tendencies may play out in your life. The very same place in you that uses food was using drugs/alcohol.
To transcend food and negative body image, we start with admitting that this area of our life is causing us pain. A person doesn’t need to have a full-blown eating disorder to struggle with food. Many people with addictive tendencies have a challenging relationship with their body and food. It is actually very common.
To get you moving in the right direction, here are 4 helpful “musts” to consider as you start this journey:
- We must go within and get to the unresolved pain and process it in a new way. A way that is honoring, loving, nurturing, and heart-felt. We cannot heal matters of the heart with the mind. Food shows us our heart is hurting. Remember, it is its own unique messenger.
- We must be willing to let our relationship with food and our body be somewhat fluid. Again, food and alcohol recovery are different. Sometimes you are just going to fall back into patterns with food because you have to have a relationship with it. Do NOT beat yourself up. There is no point in this, as it won’t help you heal. What matters is that you keep doing the inner-work that is causing you to reach out to food in the first place.
- Forgive yourself. I cannot say this enough. Forgive yourself, forgive yourself, forgive yourself. You are doing the best you can. Period.
- Be patient. Food recovery can take many turns. People can be doing okay for years and then fall back into old patterns. It’s not uncommon and so having patience with how you deal with this, is going to be essential.
Goodbye to Old Patterns
With food issues, there is often a pattern of beating yourself up, so this has to go. Work on trying to affirm yourself. It’s a practice. The way we relate to ourselves is more important than anything else when it comes to happiness. And remember that life is fluid, there is no room for rigidity when it comes to healing.
It is also very important to find other ways of nourishing yourself outside of food. Creating deeper intimacy with friends, planning fun trips and events, and even taking up hobbies that help you foster a relationship to your creativity, are all ways in which you can indirectly help yourself heal. When we feel truly nourished, truly excited about life, then it is much easier to stay away from old coping patterns. Focusing on what you do want is so important because it moves you toward it. It gives you the change to succeed.
Food is going to be a part of our lives forever, and so is our own thinking. What is going to be critical, no matter what your relationship with food is, is to continue to love yourself through your ups and downs. To continue to apply compassion and self-forgiveness when you go through times of struggle. The truth is, no one can make us treat ourselves well. This is entirely up to us, and one of our greatest opportunities in life. Food and body image are a direct reflection of where this may be needed more. Use it as your compass, so that you can not only move through old behaviors, but also into a more loving relationship to yourself.
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