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The Secret Meaning Of Compulsive Eating Behaviors
Food is not simply fuel to keep you going. Nor is it the enemy, out to turn your body into an ugly fat mass or clog up your arteries. So many expert sources dispense food "rules" to live by: Eat four of this every day, eat three of these everyday. Avoid these certain foods at all costs. Eat this food in moderation. The evening news bombards us with food dangers. Diets provide even more wacky "rules." No wonder food is such a messy subject. It's turned into an intellectual battle of good versus evil.
I say enough of this determining what we 'should' eat by listening to other people's criteria. Wouldn't you agree that somewhere within yourself and your own body lies the source of knowing what you want to eat and how much to eat? It might just be time to reclaim your authority of your life and your body by trusting yourself as the ultimate authority of eating?
Let's go back to basics. As human beings we are alive in a physical body. This is your body. It is your individual guidance system that tells you when you are feeling good and when you are not feeling good. This body is a multi-sensory body that contains everything you need to know when you are being true to yourself, what feels good to you, and what tastes good to you.
Individually, we have purpose for being here on earth. We are meant to bring joy to earth through our physical bodies and the expression of ourselves. We eat by taking something from outside of ourselves into our mouth. Through chewing, we release the life from the food itself. Through the miracle of digestion, the life force that was within the food becomes a part of our physical body. The remainder is released as waste product and renews the earth. Through this process, we are the cycle of life.
Somewhere in the process of growing up, we made many decisions about ourselves on this earth. We decided how alive we could be, how authentic, how open and real. We decided whether we have the right have to our own needs - and have those needs met. Whatever decisions we made are reflected in our bodies and in our food patterns.
For any person struggling with resolving a food issue, the realization eventually awakens that the food issue was about something much deeper. The food is a language of sorts, speaking of our own decisions to be alive, awakened, authentic . . . or not.
YOUR FOOD PATTERNS / YOUR ALIVENESS
1. Perhaps you have decided that you must be a pleasure-denier? Eating without sitting down. Eating unconsciously. Eating with guilt. Gulping down food in a hurry and always eating on the run. There's no time in this world for your needs and you do not rank as a priority in your life. Your life and your needs do not exist or are not as valuable as someone else's. To be self-centered is viewed as being selfish.
2. Do you binge in private? Not allowing anyone to see you having pleasurable foods? Having to sneak your pleasure in the dark? In a trance-like state, eating foods you don't want anyone to know you eat . . . in volumes you don't want anyone to know you want. You eat quickly, not wanting to get caught. The irony is that you're not really enjoying the food, you're not really hungry. It's usually a time we can be alone, with all your wants and desires. It is a time we don't have to pretend to be capable, competent, pleasant, likeable, strong, and without needs. It is a time to be entirely self-centered, where you don't have to take care of the needs of anyone else and can focus completely on yourself.
3. Do you deny yourself energy / food (forgetting to eat breakfast and lunch) throughout the day then attempt to provide yourself with as much pleasure as you can quickly get in the evening? Choosing to feel guilty afterward, once again denying yourself the pleasure of having what you want? Compulsive overeating is characterized by uncontrollable eating and consequent weight gain. Compulsive overeaters use food as a way to cope with stress, emotional conflicts and daily problems. The food can block out feelings and emotions. Does your eating style numb out your inner voice, your inner truth, your right to accept pleasure?
4. Do you restrict food entirely - denying yourself the energy needed for life? Perhaps leaning more towards anorexia. Never allowing yourself to be hungry. Hunger, your human need, stands for every need you have in life. Meaning, you have no needs. You are above being human. While underneath feeling you have no worthiness as a person. By denying your needs you deny your worthiness as a person. An attempt to be void, be empty. To say, "I deserve nothing." While at the same time playing a game of superiority saying, "I don't need anything." Hunger, and having needs, is part of being alive.
5. Do you hoard energy - holding onto as much energy (food and fat) as you can, not feeling safe without it? Keeping weight on your body as a way not to be too powerful, too sexually attractive, too alive, too authentic and real? Not trusting your self if you were thin. In this eating style, the subconscious fears becoming thin. Whether the fears are of starvation, sexuality, a new job situation, dating and relationships, career choices, family issues or just life itself, the weight may be serving the purpose of insulating you from those fears, from feeling, and thus avoiding personal growth and change.
6. Are you bulimic - somehow sensing it is your birth right to be powerful and have what you want, but also in conflict about your needs? Indulging in huge amounts of energy (food) but then raging and throwing up what you aren't allowed to have? Bulimics are usually people that do not feel secure about their own self worth. They usually strive for the approval of others. They tend to do whatever they can to please others, while hiding their own feelings. Food becomes their only source of comfort - but even that is not allowed.
7. Unconscious eater - Have you ever been nibbling on something for some time before you realize that you are actually eating? Have you had someone ask you, "Hey what are you eating or what did you have for dinner", and you couldn't tell them? Do you find yourself nibbling on food constantly while you are working, driving, talking on the phone, or watching TV without even thinking about what you are eating. Do you heap mounds of food on your plate? Do you put another bite into your mouth before finishing the last one? What are your fears? Are you allowed to have what you want? Can you fill up with enough? Can you sit down and accept all of what you need and deserve on one plate?
We deserve all of the good things life has to offer, without having to perform for any of them. We don't earn worthiness, we decide we are already worthy and therefore accept more joy and abundance and love into us. We are deserving individuals by our very existence. I challenge you to take a look at your eating style. Look with non-judgement and without fear. Look without attempting to solve or get rid of the problem. Instead, be curious. What does your style of eating say about your right to be alive on earth, your right to have your needs met, your right to self-expression, your right to be powerful and empowered? What would your eating look like if you were filled up with your own life, passion, and joy, love, feeling good and having what you want?
Dr. Annette Colby, RD
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