Do you ever find yourself eating for reasons other than nutrition or hunger? Hmmm...
If you feel as if food has become about more than the "imbibing" of fresh, clean burning, deliciously satisfying but non-addictive fuel for you, then what follows might just offer a little guidance about how to steer your ship a little more in the direction of health, vitality and freedom by asking a few probing questions of yourself and
your food choices. Feeling brave? Read on...
all the reasons we eat, perhaps the most overriding influence of all is our emotions. For all of us, and this goes
for even the most “disciplined” among us, eating is mostly (if not all) about
how we feel – either in the anticipation of, in the actual eating of, or
experiencing the after effects of eating (or all three!). We eat to feel full,
stronger, happier, busy, comforted, distracted, stimulated, rewarded, more
grounded, to fight boredom or tiredness or for just about any other reason we
can think of. Not many people eat solely to fulfil their nutritional
requirements that’s for sure! Not unless their very life depends on it, and
even then it can still be a struggle.
it is absolutely normal to have emotional issues around food – if you don’t
you’re lucky and exceptional (and, based on modern research around eating
habits and attitudes towards them, probably male!). If the latter sounds like you,
congratulations! You will no doubt take to raw eating easier than most. But for
those of you who have “stuff” around food: it’s okay, it’s fine, it’s so common
as to be “completely normal” and the good news is it doesn’t have to stay this way.
fact a lot of disordered or “unhelpful” eating habits can be automatically
eradicated by eating more raw foods
– not because of willpower or determination, but by the very fact that you’ll
be eating foods that support you and your body’s ability to have a healthy (in
every sense of the word) relationship with food, rather than with food that can
hook you in and trigger addictive and compulsive tendencies that you’d really
rather not have! Not only this, but in time, sometimes after not very long at
all, you’ll feel much more free and confident around food generally – a trust
and mutual respect develops, meaning that you can put food back in its rightful
place – as fuel that supports you for the life you want to live, and not your
best friend-worst enemy that is so very often the case. Fancy some of that?
How to deal with your “stuff”
you start to eat more raw and once you’ve mastered the basics and have a fairly
good idea of what to eat on a day-to-day basis and are doing it, THAT’S when it
starts to become apparent how you have traditionally used and abused food in
your life – mostly because you have run out of distractions and quite simply
raw food just does not “medicate”!
the emotions show up, it’s all too easy/comforting/attractive to either run off
screaming to cooked and processed foods (usually the worst kind of junk,
actually) or to overeat on raw foods to the point of discomfort (a.k.a.
bingeing). What does this tell us? Only that we are using food inappropriately
and it is time to face the underlying issues rather than continue throwing fuel
onto the fire.
and as I know only too well from personal experience - knowing this is one
thing, doing something about it is entirely another. If you have used food or
drink for years to bury your feelings, stimulate or stifle yourself in some way
(as 99% of the population apparently have done and still do), you’re not likely
to get over this overnight.
So what to do?
I am personally a big fan of the slowly, slowly approach. I believe that for
long-term results you need to back pedal one step at a time, and not anything
more. When we suppress emotions we are dealing with “elastic energy” – that
means that if you pull it too far away from its source and its usual comfort
zone it has a massive tendency to TWANG, catapult back (often taking us to a
“worse” place than when we started) and generally hit us twice as hard on the
butt! So, start small and work back – your comfort zone can shrink accordingly,
and if you do it this slow and simple way you'll hardly feel a thing!
are so many aspects to emotional and disordered eating that it’s completely
impossible to cover them in this one article, so for today I’m going to bring a
few suggestions to the table that you can get started with when you feel good
and ready, so that you can start to probe a little deeper into your own eating
behaviour and know how to step things back slowly and deliberately as
Step 1: Start with the food
your food’s been used “non-nutritionally” for a while then I recommend that you
do not remove your favourite comfort foods entirely unless you are well
supported to deal with the fallout! So seek still to “feed” your emotions, but
less damagingly than before. Upgrade what you eat and make as much of it raw as
possible. You may very well still overeat, for a while at least, but the
quality of what you overeat on will make a big difference, on many levels.
Positive change will then start to happen organically - with no real conscious
effort on your part - trust me.
good example of this is when I wanted to give up bread, but not completely. So
I switched to wholemeal, then organic wholemeal, then rye bread, then sprouted
wheat bread. I hung out there for a good while, eventually ate less of it and
then dropped it completely – but only
when I felt good and ready.)
it’s super-important to learn how to “get creative” with raw foods - not so
much for the sake of creation itself (although that’s a great offshoot in and
of itself) but predominantly for the sake of making your journey to health
emotionally and sensually fulfilling in every way – i.e. as rewarding as your
current/previous eating habits, plus some.
Because the bottom line is that unless you have a will of iron, in the early
days especially, there’s just no way you will go raw or anywhere near it unless
you LOVE the new food you are eating for how it tastes, looks, smells and makes
you feel while eating it, as well as for the benefits you gain as a result of
eating it – so this is all about fun, whole person/body improvement and
benefits, benefits, benefits at every stage of the journey – as it should
rightly be! Bottom line: Only eat food you love – but make it healthy!
this, work back to “neutral” - that is, being at peace with food and using it
as a tool to support your health and life experience positively. As suggested,
do this step-by-step using food less and less as an emotional crutch and
finding more and more new ways to enjoy it and create more positive emotions
before, during and after eating healthy foods.
ultimate goal is to reach the point where you are eating foods that feel really
good to you at the deepest levels – right down to your cells, and eating mostly
or only foods that help keep you centred and balanced, that you personally feel
good about eating and that you only eat when hungry. This is mastery defined!
Step 2: Understand your drivers
order to avoid any possible sense of “loss”, to bridge the gap between old and
new successfully AND take you to even higher heights gastronomically and
emotionally, it’s imperative for you to know exactly what it is about food and
eating that turns you on. What foods (and drinks too) excite and stimulate you?
Which ones comfort you? What just tastes plain good to you? What do your
different “habit foods” (the ones you eat every day) do for you EXACTLY? What
needs do they fulfil? What gaps in your world/experience do they plug up?
And the multi-million dollar question: What role/s is food playing in your life that might
be better met through other means (such as a good cuddle, a weepy film, a hot
bath, going to bed earlier or taking it all out on a punch bag?!). Is food your
friend, enemy, mother, comforter or lover? Name your foods and name the roles
they play. This will get help you start understanding your behaviour on a whole
well as identifying what it is about the food itself, it’s helpful to “hear”
what all the different parts of you have to say about food. Which part of you
asks for food the most often? Is it your taste buds, your body, your mind or
your glad or sad heart? Which part of you calls the shots and why is that
exactly? How can you heal or help that part of you without opening the fridge
these questions answered you are infinitely better equipped to create a way of
eating that fulfils all the criteria important to you (and more) and leaves you
feeling satiated in body, mind and spirit - and not just with smiling happy
only this, but facing your demons – however large or small – is just about the
biggest gift you can give yourself for freeing up massive amounts of energy
that you can put to much better use than allowing that “devil on your shoulder”
to undermine your good intentions and keep you glued to the sofa with a cheese
sandwich in hand!
you can start asking and answering some of these questions, being really honest
and compassionate with yourself, you’ll be well on your way to that peace I speak
of. Isn’t a bit of self-enquiry and self-observation a price worth paying for
feeling at peace with food and your body for the rest of your life?