Love it, hate it. Want it, can’t have it. Poor me, strong me. Food and our relationship with it can be so double. Food causes a lot of aggravation, stress and emotional upheaval.
What has gone wrong?
For babies, feeding time is the most pleasurable: it offers the comfort and warmth of being close to a mother figure, it stimulates the senses of smell, taste and touch and it satisfies the body.
The three main reasons that people don’t enjoy food are:
- No attachment – some people are neutral about food. They are just not interested, because they are numb to the positive effects, usually as an aftermath of childhood experiences. Food is just a necessity, but not a source of pleasure.
- Negative physical response – when our body is not able to process food properly and when it makes us feel sick or unwell, such as is the case for conditions as IBS, coeliac or allergies, we see food as a thread to our well-being rather than a joy.
- Distorted emotional attachments to what food represents:
- Taking control of eating behaviour means taking control of my life.
- Eating behaviour is a way to rebel or a way to get attention.
- Overeating is compensating for emotional dissatisfaction, insecurity or lack of love.
Mental focus on eating habits prevents from feeling deeper pain.When someone develops an unhealthy emotional attachment to food, it can easily develop into a serious eating disorder. Eating disorders are a way of compulsive behaviour that can manifest in not eating (anorexic), overeating (binging), or a bulimic disorder (overeating followed by discharging of the food by throwing up or laxatives).
Diets are one of the ways in which an eating disorder start. The forced disconnection between body and mind creates an emotional space to develop unhealthy habits, which could ‘feed’ an unhealthy emotional attachment.
If losing weight is on your agenda, but if your mind is making overtime thinking about food and eating; if you are on a diet and feel continuously emotionally pressurised by it; or if you beat yourself up about your eating habits, you are entering a danger zone.
Tip for change
What you can try is to break the cycle: take a step back, try for one week to listen to your body only and give it the food it is asking for. Eat slowly and mindfully. Let go of thoughts about your food and feel relaxed about this experiment. If this causes you difficulty, check out if you are bordering on an eating disorder, click here.
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