Food Freedom, Part 1 - Emotional Freedom
Food Freedom, Part 1
I'm writing a Blog series on Finding Freedom from Food & Diet Addictions. I have a wealth of information to share that comes from years of personal experience with dieting and "disordered eating", as well as how I found personal freedom and broke the chains of these addictions.
I will focus on Three Pinnacles of Food Freedom: 1. Find Emotional Freedom, 2. Eat Real Foods, and 3. Ditch the Sugar & Burn Fat!
This first post will include snapshots of my personal journey and how I finally broke free, started listening to my body and began enjoying food again.
I hope the Food Freedom Series will help you (or someone you know) on your own health & wellness journey!
I Can't Stop This Feeling!
We've ALL been there. You see a tantalizing dessert and even though you've made a commitment to watch what you eat, you think to yourself, "I know I shouldn't, but what is one more really going to hurt? I can always start again tomorrow." YES, we've all been there!
I cannot tell you how many people I've talked to, myself included, that have at one time or another battled some sort of food or dieting addiction. Truthfully, most Americans battle this every day, sometimes without even realizing its happening.
I battled a food & dieting addiction for more than 10 years. It was miserable and I felt like I lived in a prison. Food was all I could think of or talk about. I would finish one meal and immediately plan or think about what I was going to eat at the next meal.
I also battled hyperglycemia and would experience these sharp and sudden blood sugar drops that would make me a crazy person if I didn't eat immediately! Of course, I now know that this happened because of my diet, which was way too LOW in FAT and very HIGH in CARBS!
Regardless, this wretched pattern went on for years. Thankfully, there was an end to it all, which I'll describe shortly, and for the past 20 years or so, I haven't battled these addictions AT ALL!
The Dog Days of Dieting
Like many of us from that era (1970-1990s) and really even now, Low-Fat was the name of the Dieting Game! The goal was to consume as little fat (& calories) as possible, while maintaining a rigorous exercise routine to help you burn off any extras. And I was the Queen of this lifestyle!
I exercised EVERY DAY religiously! I would get up early and drive to the YMCA, where I'd run for almost an hour and then lift weights - all before school started at 8:15! I ate everything low-fat and brought my lunch so I wouldn't be tempted by the off-campus lunch selection. Oftentimes, I didn't even go to lunch with my friends, just to avoid the scene.
I remember my friends cutting up one day during lunch about something they heard on the radio. The DJ was talking about how many calories were burned during sex, to which my friends heartily responded, "Don't tell Landon!" I can't tell you how much that one hurt, but I knew they were right. I was addicted to dieting and exercising - all for the goal of being skinny & beautiful.
The worst part of it was, and you may relate, I didn't feel better about myself at all. I actually felt worse. And while I really wasn't overweight, I still was not satisfied with my body and was mostly in despair. Have you been there???
I'll cover sugar addiction in Part 3, but I want to share with you now that I also battled a severe sugar/carb addiction for years. This is a MAJOR struggle for most Americans, especially women, and I want to help others break out of these chains.
I remember these cookies my friend in high school always had at her house. The minute I walked in, I knew where to find them. I would tell myself, "not this time", but inevitably, I would cave and eat up to six within an evening (and oftentimes in secret). I was really just eating to eat.
It was an emotional cover for something else entirely, but my young self did not understand this - nor would I for years to come. BUT there is FREEDOM from this emotional and physical bondage!
Three Pinnacles of Food Freedom
My goodness...had I known then what I know now!! While going through that hell (there's no other word to describe it) was awful, I can honestly say that it led me to where I am now.
I was ALWAYS LOOKING for the next best diet or food or program that would help me get the results I wanted, and this searching finally led me to FREEDOM.
It boils down to three practices, or pinnacles, that I have developed over the past ten years: 1. Find Emotional Freedom, 2. Eat Real Foods, and 3. Ditch the Sugar & Eat Fat!
The Emotional Piece
For years, I just ate to eat. Can you relate? I ate what I was "supposed to" according to whatever diet I was on at the time, and most of it (especially when I gave into cravings) was mindless eating.
I didn't follow my body's signals, except for when my blood sugar bottomed out. I am quite sure I ate countless meals when I really wasn't hungry. I mean, after all, we're supposed to eat 3 square meals a day plus snacks, right?
Praise God something changed for me my senior year of college!! I ran across a book that literally changed my life! It was called, The Weigh Down Diet, by Gwen Shablin. This book was more faith-based than anything, but it was what I needed to hear at the time.
It taught me to enjoy "the richer satisfaction that comes NOT from food, but from FAITH." This was the missing piece that brought me emotional freedom and helped me to recognize that I was using food to satisfy some other emotional longing.
This EMOTIONAL PIECE is a real thing! And for many, this is the reason they have not found success in their health journey, no matter how hard they have tried and regardless of whether or not they are doing everything "RIGHT".
If you don't address the underlying, emotionally-triggered reasons behind your eating habits, you will be locked in this pattern. BUT, there is hope - I PROMISE!
I will address this more fully in another post highlighting different techniques that deal with emotional "baggage", such as The Emotion Code, and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). But for now, here's something you can try:
When you're in a moment of temptation or are feeling that addiction calling you - PAUSE! Just stop and breathe. This gets the amygdala - your fight or flight part of your brain - out of the driver's seat and puts your frontal lobe - your brain's reason & logic part - in control. Then try to RECOGNIZE why you're craving this food. Is it a physical craving and/or an emotional craving? Are you hungry? Angry? Lonely?
Ask yourself if there is an underlying feeling or emotion causing the need to eat. If you're able to recognize it, then ADMIT that this is how you feel and RELEASE that feeling or emotion (& keep breathing). Let it go. Journal about it. Talk to a friend or trusted person who will allow you to process your feelings. Trust me - this is a HUGE part of the process.
I also learned how to listen to my body's hunger and satiety cues, as well as how to enjoy whatever food I was eating. I realized that I had never really paid attention to my amazing body that told me when to eat and when to stop.
Once I started paying attention to this, I was shocked at how much less I really needed to eat, and I was embarrassed at how much I had been eating beforehand. This changed my eating patterns for life!
Now, I'm not telling you to go out and buy this book (I'm not telling you not to either). This is just what God placed before at that particular time and moment in my life, and it freed me from the emotional bondage and the physical desensitization that I had let myself become accustomed to.
Don't Be Afraid to Share!
But I say all of this to say, that as a former food and diet addict, I felt trapped - unable to find the light at the end of the tunnel.
But I made my way out of that dark tunnel and discovered that there is much to be enjoyed in life AND in food, if we will only be honest with ourselves and invite others to take part with us.
I'll say it over and over and over again here at Health Talk - Success in your Health Journey AND Enjoyment of Life can only happen with Honesty, Support & Community.
I hope to offer you that here at Health Talk, and I encourage you to Book a Session with me so we can talk about finding Food Freedom or anything else you may be struggling with in the Health & Nutrition World.
This is my passion and I would love to walk alongside you as you start on your Journey!