Mid mini-egg snarfing last night, I had a realization. As I danced on the line between “normal” festive holiday emotional eating to compulsive/bingeing territory, I “woke up”…
As yucky as it was to catch myself in the moment, in the habit of eating at night, it sent me to my journal with something on my mind.
I was not eating out of hunger, but I was hungry.
I was not hungry because I needed fuel, food, chocolate, or mini eggs.
So, I sat down to my journal with a question on my mind: What am I hungry for?
You will never be able to eat enough to fill an empty heart.
No amount of cookies, of chocolate, of cake, of chips—of whatever—can fill that kind of hunger.
A hungry belly needs food. A hungry heart needs love. A hungry soul needs fulfillment.
There’s no love aisle at the grocery store. The farmer’s market doesn’t sell fulfillment. Love comes from family, from friends, but most conveniently—though often difficultly—from ourselves (how convenient!). Fulfillment comes from doing what makes you come alive—even if it’s not what pays the bills (right now) or pleases your parents or looks nice on paper.
If your world is filled with draining things—people who bring you down, a schedule filled to the brim with things to keep you busy but not inspired, a house filled with junk that you bought to impress other people—is it any wonder you try to fill yourself up with food?
An eating disorder of this type is not about eating.
Finding the perfect diet won’t get rid of a life disorder. Throwing away your chocolate won’t make you love yourself. Slapping a band-aid—in the form of a diet, a program, a whatever—on the situation just prolongs your agony. When will you address what’s really missing? When will you give yourself what you’re really hungry for?
Recognizing that food won’t fill you up is the first step. The next space—where you’ll likely continue to eat all the while knowing that it’s not the answer—is perhaps the most frustrating. Step into the part of the process where you start figuring out what it is that you want, what it is that you need, and who it is that you are. Take up a curiousity with yourself—Why are you turning to food? What might make you feel better? How do you use food and eating and dieting in your life?—and enter into a new way of being. Start on the big questions: What would fulfill you? Who do you want to be? What do you want? What if you were enough?
Geneen Roth’s wisdom comes to mind here.
“You are not a mistake. You are not a problem to be solved. But you won’t discover this until you are willing to stop banging your head against the wall of shaming and caging and fearing yourself.”
Stop fixing yourself. This “problem” becomes a gift the moment you realize it has opened up these questions about what you’re really hungry for, which really get at what you want in your life and in turn what you believe about your ability or right to have them. Open it…
I’m interested in what you’ve learned about yourself if you’ve overcome an eating disorder or emotional eating…share with me in the comments!