To say that our relationship with food is complex is an understatement, especially when it comes to weight loss. If it was easy, I would put on my dietitian hat and tell you how many carbs, proteins and fats you should be eating.
You’d lose the weight and keep it off, and we’d be done. But, as I’m sure you know it doesn’t quite work that way!
The reality is that there is SO much emotion and psychology behind our eating, and if we don’t take the time to understand this – and embrace it and heal it – then we aren’t likely to succeed in permanently releasing excess weight.
Pause for a moment and think about your relationship with food in your childhood.
When you were learning to use the potty, were you rewarded with little candies? If you had a bad day at school, were you comforted with a cookie? Did you get a ‘treat’ if you ate all your dinner? In these instances, your brain learns to recognize food as a way to feel happy or cared for.
On the flip side, food is often used as a coping tool that works to tranquilize painful emotions or keep you numb.
If your childhood was chaotic and stressful, you may have subconsciously learned that carbohydrate foods and beverages like bread, cereal, pasta, cookies, chips, donuts, candy and soda made you feel better. And it’s not just because they tasted good.
These sugary foods affect your brain chemistry by increasing your serotonin and dopamine levels – the ‘feel-good’ chemicals that help you feel calm and happy or excited and motivated.
Current research is also showing us that if you have a history of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), your risk of using food as a coping tool is greatly increased.
ACEs include, but are not limited to: any type of abuse – physical, sexual or emotional; divorce or separation; violence in the home; alcohol or drugs in the home; mental illness in the home; a family member in jail or prison; and not having your basic needs met.
To learn more about how modern-day stressors and childhood traumas affect our weight, I warmly invite you to watch this video.
To discover more about what’s going on with your cravings and emotional eating, start by asking yourself the following questions when you find yourself headed to the pantry or the fridge because you just need “something”:
- How are you FEELING right now? Ask yourself if you are tired, overwhelmed, angry, lonely or anxious? Very often, we are craving relief from these feelings.
- If you eat the food you are seeking, how will that make your BRAIN and HEART feel? Cravings and emotional eating are rarely about your level of physical hunger.
- Is there a childhood memory associated with the food you are seeking? Is the memory a good one or a bad one?
- If you weren’t allowed to eat this food, how would you FEEL?
I love exploring these questions with my clients because it opens the door to a more holistic and healing path when it comes to weight loss and optimal health.
If you’re tired of knowing what you’re “supposed to do” but not being able to do it, I warmly invite you to try a more heart-centered and mindful approach to permanent weight release.
Do you crave certain types of food more often than others? Have you connected your hunger to specific feelings? What do you think about losing weight via holistic methods that take care of your health? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Let’s Have a Conversation!