May 2009 - Are You An Emotional Eater?
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What is your relationship with food? Do you often tend to overeat? Are you an emotional eater? Do you feel out of control around food? What is it you really want?
Weight loss is the number one reason my clients come in for hypnosis. Most people are looking for a quick fix to help them lose the weight once and for all. Whatever path you take to release the weight, you need to take a deeper look at your relationship with food and why you eat. While positive hypnotic suggestion can help you lose weight, more importantly, hypnosis can go much deeper into your unconscious mind to release negative emotions and limiting beliefs that may cause you to overeat.
Here’s a helpful piece on eating disorders from the book: “Your Body Speaks Your Mind”, by Deb Shapiro:
As food and eating occupy such a huge place in our lives, it is not surprising that there are a number of eating disorders. As we have seen, food and emotional nourishment are intimately bound together in the depths of our unconscious, so eating disorders are inevitably connected to issues of love – self love, self acceptance, self-dislike, self-denial, rejection, loss, etc. Just as you may try to fill an inner emptiness with food, so you can reject or deny your needs, and therefore reject food, in the misbelief that the smaller the body the less the longing for love. Food is also closely connected to power issues. Digestion is connected to the third chakra and the consciousness of having personal power or a lack of it. Those who are obese often say they feel out of control around food, while people with anorexia exert massive control to the point of eliminating their instinct for survival.
Obesity has become a national problem. In the United States approximately 127 million people are overweight, sixty million are obese, and nine million are severely obese. It seems to have happened in tandem with social pressure to be model-stick thin: two extremes of the same problem. More than nine million children are obese, more than four times the number forty years ago. This is s huge concern, as the more fat cells produced when you are a child, the more likely you will become a fat adult, and the more dangerous it is to your overall health, leading to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Food is not the only cause of obesity, as a low metabolic rate can create unnecessary weight gain, but in most cases it is our relationship with food and love that is the originating issue.
Eating has a wonderful soporific effect. It numbs your feelings and leaves you emotionally satiated. The more you eat, the less you feel, as if the food becomes ballast against the tides of emotion washing your insides. Invariably, therefore, eating beyond your physical needs occurs at times of emotional stress, relationship breakdown, grief, loss, depression, fear, guilt, or shame. Remember, most of these feelings are unconscious.
You may not be aware of what you are feeling or why you are eating, simply that there is a huge hole inside that needs to get filled, and food is the only thing that works. Even when emotional nourishment is on offer, the pain inside can be too deep to accept it – food is safer, there are fewer demands, less danger of rejection. Excessive eating then leads to excessive weight gain, constructing a wall that serves to ward off potential causes of hurt or rejection, but also blocking out your own feelings. The wall may be a layer of protection but inside is someone longing to love and be loved.
Grief or shame is often hidden beneath an obsessive appetite. Many women put on excess weight around their hips and thighs following sexual assault. By covering up the sexual area the feelings are shut away beneath layers of fear and mistrust.
Ways to Help Yourself
You can help yourself by exploring your relationship to food and how that relationship was defined when you were a child.
- Were you fed treats instead of attention?
- Did you feel guilty or powerless around food?
Rather than focusing on what is wrong with being heavy, start exploring the benefits. Try writing down all the ways that being heavy is OK for you. Explore what was happening emotionally when you began to put on weight and try to connect with the feelings that are locked inside.
- What is the weight hiding?
- What does being heavy enable you to do, or not do?
- Does it make you feel safe?
- Most particularly, imagine how it would feel to be lighter than you are and watch your feelings around this. Does the idea make you feel exposed or insecure?
- Does it feel as if you have nowhere to hide?
I hope you take some time to contemplate these questions for yourself and feel free to call or email me about your weight loss goals or food related issues.
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