As the holidays are rapidly approaching, I wanted to check in with you to find out how have you been showing up lately when it comes to your eating. Do you feel remotely in touch with your body and dialed into your wants and needs, or are you totally checked out, snarfing down potato chips while reading social media updates and the news channels?
There's no right or wrong, mind you--as long as you know where you stand.
Having that ability and sense of control when it comes to your eating can happen naturally for some of us; one of my college girlfriends has always been super lean because she always pushes her plate away as soon as she's full. For me, I fell flat on my face eating sleeves of Oreos at a time--always while on the phone to a friend--about a thousand times before I finally came face to face with my emotional state. I did some hard therapy to figure out that the answer to my problems was about plugging into my own feelings and not doing a face-plant into chocolate cookies! The more I was able to identify what my needs were and understand the WHYs underneath my behavior, the easier it became to get those needs met and stop overeating instead.
In my early years of private practice I worked with a lot of eating disordered and disordered eating clients. Most of them were binge eaters. One of my clients would buy 2 bags of groceries and walk around the block over and over until she had eaten everything inside those bags. Instead of aiming to control or stop the binge, I always encouraged her to go all the way through it and learn from it by getting to the other side.
Sometimes the other side of a binge is long and far away, but other times it can be much closer than we think. And understanding that every binge has a beginning, middle, and end is key because just as the sun rises and sets every day, a binge will have a start and a finish.
When your eating feels out of control, you can turn it into a mindFULL experience. Check in with yourself. "What the hell is really going on? Am I pissed off about something or at someone? Did I say yes when I wanted to say no? Did I forget to eat all day and am past the point of no return? Am I grieving my younger, thinner self? Do I feel unsexy and ashamed of my body so now I have to punish myself? What purpose does this serve for me?"
In other words, stay in the question of it all about what's happening. No judgments, harsh criticisms, or beating yourself up. Just curiosity and unearthing about what's brewing under the service. Let your thoughts and feelings bubble up and be your totem to guide you.
Once you identify what's happening, acknowledge it, bring it out in the open, let it go, and forgive yourself. And the next time the binge happens, dial in again and start questioning what the hell is going on. You may have to learn the lesson over and over but in time you will see a pattern emerge, and the binges will become less frequent. And when they do happen again, you'll have way more insight as to what they're really about.
PS. If you're struggling with eating that feels out of control and are totally over being miserable and beating yourself up, reply to this email directly. Shame is not a sustainable business model. It's time you started rewriting the rules for yourself.
PPS. With Thanksgiving upon us, I wanted to say that I am grateful for all of YOU! Thank you for reading these love letters and sharing your lives with me. I got you. XOXOXO