The thing about food, body or weight issues is they actually have very little to do at all with food. This means we cannot solve an issue with food by solely controlling, manipulating or altering what is eaten. It may seem to “work” for a while, but unless we get to the root of the problem, it is like putting out a fire by turning off the fire alarm. Diets do not work because they do not address the issue of “why”. Why do we eat the way we do in the first place? Why do we gain the weight back or fall back into destructive cycles? You cannot solve a food problem with food because food is really not the whole problem. To really clear the food issue from our lives, we have to look at the deeper causes: the insecurities; the fear; the shame; the comfort and the alleviation of boredom. We must unearth all the emptiness food fills for us other than true hunger. We must find what we are really starving for.
Somewhere and somehow you may have linked food to your life in such a way that it has been elevated to savior, reliever of pain, friend and/or lover. At the same time, you may have lost your connection with your intuitive self and your natural hunger cues. You may have swallowed your feelings to the point where you are weighed down by them physically, psychologically and spiritually. You may feel trapped. Trapped because you may have given your power to something that seemingly has both the ability to soothe your hurts and enslave you.
I know because I’ve been there. Food, and my distorted view of it, ran my life for many, many years. It took me down roads of deprivation, starvation, binging, purging-you name it. Worse than any behavior with food, any issue with my weight, was the despair, hatred, judgment and loneliness I felt in my own skin. Worse was the disconnect I felt from my authentic self and then the punishment I felt I deserved. I found myself in a familiar cycle of intently desiring to get well and my subsequent despair and self-recrimination when I failed. Food and thoughts about my body ran my life; thinking endlessly about it, planning, denying and deciding. Then, I reached my breaking point. What I was doing wasn’t working. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. My longing for freedom eclipsed my longing for thinness. I needed help and I got it. I got a lot of help. My path of recovery spurred me to help others on their own journey, and I have spent the greater part of the last 15 years doing just that. I was fortunate to work, as the head nutritional counselor, at Ai Pono Intensive Outpatient Recovery Center on Maui, Hawaii for five years, and then I started my private professional coaching practice. Here, I was initiated into the other side of food recovery. No matter where the case was on the spectrum of severity there were common threads I began to witness as we unraveled the stories together. There were feelings being denied; there was familiar judgment and blame; there was aching for freedom from the grip of the cycle of despair, frustration and unworthiness; there was the need for perfection, safety and self-definition; there was focus on the external self to hopefully finally fill the inner emptiness. You may be reading this feeling the same way; not knowing if there is a way out.
Let me be clear by saying there is absolutely a road to freedom. There is a way out. The way out is by going within.
This work is about healing our relationship with food by healing our relationship with ourselves. Food is the media we are using right now to project an obvious misalignment within. In other words, our current relationship with food and our bodies are warning signals there is inner work to be done. This is an important point. I see our food issue not as a huge problem to solve, or a broken part of us that needs fixing, but as a doorway to self-discovery. When we actually pay attention to what our behavior with food is trying to tell us, we hear the long buried echoes of our deeply buried selves. Then we become the archaeologists of our own psyche, revealing in the artifacts we have long since buried. We embrace the fact that food is our way in to finding our way out.