For this week’s article I thought a wee review (intro to you newcomers) of a basic principle on how to overcome an eating disorder would be in order. In my own healing journey, the more I was reminded of this basic premise, the faster things went and the easier life became. I see this phenomenon repeating with my individual clients as well, so here goes.
Simply put, if you’re restricting, overeating, purging, hating your body (no matter whether you’re truly overweight or underweight), feeling depressed, feeling anxious, drinking often, taking drugs, numbing out regularly to the T.V., or spending money you don’t really have on stuff you don’t really need, you are using a coping strategy.
Many people get so hung up on how frustrated and annoyed they are at themselves for using a coping strategy that they fail to ask the all-important and obvious question: Why am I doing this in the first place?
That’s because most often the things we judge and hate in ourselves (which really are behaviours and not who we are) are things that stand out to others and that other people have commented on. They likely are also things that we have seen other key people in our lives struggle with. So it’s the overeating or the overweight, or the restriction and the underweight that stand out to us and therefore seem to be the obvious problem. Just like the alcoholic will focus on the alcohol as the root of her troubles because she notices her drunkenness and the pull of alcohol more than she’s able to notice her emotions and her needs at that time in her life.
In fact, for all those who engage in harmful coping strategies, the truth is that they are so far removed from their emotions and from the underlying thoughts that trigger them, that they don’t even know they are having feelings much of the time. But they are there, the energy that they bring is real, and it generates an overall feeling of disease in you that I call the PLA (permeating level of anxiety) that is extremely uncomfortable and needs to either be attended to in a life-enhancing way (by identifying what triggered it and by taking action to meet the underlying need/resolve the issue) or by numbing out through negative self-talk, depression, food, etc.
If you don’t know how to recognize the cues that you are overwhelmed or stressed about a particular something or someone in your life, and you wouldn’t trust yourself to sort it out well even if you were aware, your only option is to numb out as much and as quickly as you can: Enter food and body focus.
The CEDRIC Centre and all our tools and resources exist for the sole purpose of showing you as quickly and simply what is really going on behind the scenes for you and how to deal with those issues as quickly, safely and respectfully as possible so that your overall stress level diminishes rapidly and therefore your need to numb out with any harmful coping strategy vanishes. Freedom and peace abound.
The first step is to be able to recognize whenever you’re:
- Eating when you’re not hungry;
- Eating more than you’re hungry for; or
- Not allowing yourself to eat when you become aware that you are hungry.
The next step, (and this is key!!) is that when you notice that you’re doing one of the above 3 things, you immediately say to yourself:
“This is just a coping strategy, it means that I am stressed/anxious about something in my life and I need to figure out what that is. Food is just a coping strategy. When I identify and resolve my underlying stressor the need for food to cope will fall away.”
Then ask yourself:
“Separate from food and body image, what was I just thinking, or what just happened, however small, that might have made me feel at all unsettled?”
That’s the first and key piece in you recognizing that food is just a coping strategy. Once you can prove that to yourself, the rest is just a step-by-step process that moves along quite quickly.
Print this out, carry it with you and offer yourself those thoughts/questions when you notice your tendency to use food to cope. I guarantee it will yield incredible information that will lead you to healing.
Focus on food and body will never, ever, ever get you there. This will.
Have a fabulous week!!
Whether you prefer one-on-one counselling (in-person, by phone, or email), our intensive and transformative workshops, the self-help approach, with the book, or our Food is Not the Problem Online Membership Program, take action today to have a stress-free relationship with food. Sign up for our free newsletter today (see the left top side of your screen). Newsletter subscribers receive exclusive product discounts and are first in line to get on all the latest new at CEDRIC.
© Michelle Morand, 2010