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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Food & Emotions or "But I Need My Chocolate!"

Hey everyone! I just got off the phone with a great lady who is interested in the ways she can better herself! She is amazing! I have dealt with many of the same things - it's nice to see we're not alone!! Thanks for the conversation, "Mystery Lady" - I appreciated it and learned alot from you! Hehe - just had to mention that - it was so inspiring!

I found this interesting tidbit online this morning in my journeys - thought I'd share it with you now. I've always had issues with food - sorting them out was tough, but not impossible. I ate too much of anything bad because someone once told me I couldn't have it - so when I grew up, I overate that item all the time. I'm guilty of trying to quiet my kid with the promise of food she likes (I'll make lasagna if you be silent for awhile)......and I'm sure as hell guilty of stuffing my face with the latest Burger King Meal - because yes, they are delicious!! Once I understood WHY I was eating the way I was, I could process the information, put a plan into place and then put that plan into action! I'm stubborn so I used that to my advantage! This time - I challenged MYSELF.....and look where we are now! Amazing things are happening! :)

So, I present one woman's take on food - and why our emotions are so closely attached.

Food and Emotions

or “But I need my chocolate!”

By Mary Rydman, CEF

These two subjects are more deeply linked than most of us are aware of. In this complicated world we live in, food has become more than just sustenance for the body. If that’s all it was, we wouldn’t be making many of the choices we do in that department! Our bodies just do not have a natural physical requirement for chocolate (or many of the other things we eat), and I know of no disease brought on by the lack of it.

Just the thought of food can bring up powerful emotions, and often childhood memories. Do you ever find yourself unable to stop eating a particular food that you know is not nourishing for your body, no matter how much willpower you employ? Or do you sometimes want to keep eating after your stomach says it is full, still feeling that something is not satisfied? It could be because emotional aspects of you are looking for love or comfort in this food, not just physical nourishment (it could also indicate a real deficiency of a certain nutrient, but not often). The problem is that you cannot substitute food for love. You can eat until full and still not feel satisfied if unconscious emotional parts of you are actually looking for love.

Most of us did not have parents who knew how to emotionally let us in on a deep level and make us feel felt, loved, and accepted just as we are. Food is one of the most common substitutes for that love and acceptance. In fact it even often becomes an addiction we are unable or unwilling to go without. I’m not saying we should go without food, but we may need to examine our relationship to it.

There is a physiological reason for our connecting food with feelings. A mother who is breast-feeding undergoes neurological changes that increase her ability to feel emotions. Nature intended for us to combine the experience of receiving physical food with being felt emotionally. That is the healthy connection we are supposed to feel while nourishing our bodies physically. Unfortunately, mothers who have unhealed emotional congestions from their own childhood have developed an emotional defense system that keeps them from feeling their children as deeply as the child needs it. They are unconsciously withholding an emotional frequency of love and in that way are not letting the child fully love the mother (because love is about letting someone in, not about pouring love out). Children are then left with an unhealthy grasp or need for food as a way to get love, and that is why it can be so very difficult for us to take away cherished foods. In adulthood we are not aware of the little emotional being inside of us who needs the food, we only know we cannot do without that food. The next time you reach for that ice cream or chocolate, try feeling into what part of you is needing it and why and see what happens.

There are also other contributions to the linking of food with emotions. Often there is too little love of any kind being expressed and felt in the family. We live busy and stressful lives with no time for feeling feelings and allowing them full expression. Further deepening our love/food connection, stressed out parents often give food as a substitute for not having “quality time” to spend with children encouraging them to express feelings. The food parents offer them is sometimes the closest thing to love children feel. At least it is something coming from caregivers, even if it is not real nourishing love. Hence we learn another way food equates to love. Another contribution to the lack of felt nourishment in food is eating food that is prepared under stress and hurriedness without love. Learning to overeat is the result of all this love starvation, with obvious consequences.

When food is used as reward or punishment for children, emotional ties to the receiving or withholding of food are deepened even more. “If you’re good, I’ll let you have some cookies later.” Or - “Go to your room without dinner, that’ll teach you to talk back to me!” Or – “Here is some ice cream, just stop screaming!” (in other words, I don’t want to or can’t feel you right now so that you can know that I love you - so here is this food as a drug to keep you from your feelings.) Do any of these sound familiar? You probably have your own family versions of food being used as reward or a pacifier, or the withholding of food as punishment. These all are ways we learn to create unhealthy relationships with food. Is it any wonder that the issue of what to eat can be so confusing as an adult? Or that we have a need to give ourselves chocolate or ice cream to feel good about ourselves? Food becomes a way to cover up conscious or unconscious hurt. It is not surprising that such a high percentage of our population is over-weight!

Emotional starvation is one reason why “diets” are doomed to fail. Parts of us get so starved emotionally from not having their comfort foods, they over-compensate when the diet is over and eat the same old foods to even greater excess to make up for the felt love starvation. Denying ourselves these foods is felt by those parts as taking away love, the love they didn’t get in childhood and are still not getting now.

There is also often a deep unworthiness aspect to food addictions. Parts of us, due to our childhood wounds, do not believe we deserve health! These feelings are usually unconscious to us and so we are not aware that our desire for foods that make our bodies work harder rather than easily nourish, is driven by a deep-seated belief that we are not good enough to have vibrant health, or that it is somehow just not a good thing. So we choose foods that will sabotage our body’s natural instinct for a state of well-being. Remember health is not absence of disease but our natural state of vibrant energy and joy for life!

These are just some of the ways we learn to relate to food in ways beyond the simple nourishment of the body and enjoyment of foods in the state nature created them. Food is not a bad thing for us, obviously, but sometimes our relationship to it needs to be examined and healed. Only then can we consciously make healthy food choices from a state of healthy self worth and self love and not from needing to get love from something outside ourselves.

EBE or Emotional Body Enlightenment, heals the cause of our food addictions in addition to creating a deep sense of self worth. This helps us to learn a new, healthier way of eating and relating to food that is more in line with what our bodies actually need. The beauty of the EBE process is that it provides a map and a method to develop a relationship with those stuck, unconscious emotional parts and finally gives them the love and nourishment they have always craved for. Emotionally healthy mothers are able to nourish their babies as nature intended and adults are no longer slaves to food cravings. I have seen in clients that when emotional healing happens, cravings for things like chocolate and ice cream simply fall away because the formerly unconscious emotional parts are now getting the real thing. That doesn’t mean those foods can’t be enjoyed occasionally, it is just that they are not craved in an unhealthy way.

Most important of all is to not be rigid about what you eat, even (or especially!) about eating raw foods. It is actually being shown to be healthier (for most people) to eat a mostly raw diet with some cooked foods, than to eat all raw, although many raw foodists will vehemently deny this. Believe it or not, it is even possible to have an unhealthy relationship to raw foods! I recommend a widely varied diet and not to deny yourself a beloved food for the rest of your life just because it is “unhealthy”. Just don’t eat lots of it every day. It is not so important what you eat once in a while, what matters is what you eat every day. Once you get yourself to a more healed, authentic place emotionally, and away from junk food addictions that keep you stuck in unnatural food cravings, your body will tell you what it needs and what makes it feel good. Listen to it.

Excerpted from “Raw and Radiant, simple raw recipes for the busy lifestyle” by Mary Rydman, CEF. Available from Amazon.com, Amazon.de and Barnes and Noble.com. You may contact Mary at info@theohumanity.org

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