You Won’t Find Your Worth on Your Fork

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Maybe your average day consists of pressing deadlines, co-workers not completing their share of the work, and mounting stressors that just keep coming with no time to eat. Maybe you are a parent who runs yourself ragged trying to be Super Mom or Super Dad, being everything to everyone in your family. You are lucky if you have time to eat your own meals, but typically find yourself eating the scraps off of your kids plates and calling that a meal.

If we add these scenarios to a history of trauma, emotional repression and disordered eating patterns, what we create is a perfect storm for nutrient imbalances left in the wake of poor dietary choices.

Too many people do not feel that they are worth the extra time and effort it takes to make a simple, home-cooked meal. Others were never taught how to eat (or cook) by the generations before them. As a society, we ushered in the use of microwaves, TV dinners and processed foods to make our lives easier. We saw the first fast food restaurant built and their competitors shortly thereafter. Today, our TV commercials are aimed at those who don’t make time to cook and the very young, so that their minds and bodies become addicted to the chemicals used in the processed, packaged food items. The ease and convenience of our fast-paced, drive-thru society has left us tired, overweight or obese, and certainly addicted to the high fat, high sugar, and high sodium world of what we call the Standard American Diet.

So often, my clients will say that they lack the willpower to not eat food that they know they should avoid. After all, everyone knows that a carrot is healthier than a candy bar — and yet they reach for the candy bar time and time again. We are hard-wired to seek out pleasure and to find quick energy sources. Our ancestors used this to survive and reproduce. However, in our current culture, the food items that we choose are often fillers for missing parts of our lives.

Maybe you are addicted to sugar because you can’t find the sweetness in your own life. Maybe you are padding yourself by having extra weight, because if no one can get to your heart then you can’t be hurt again. Maybe you are drowning yourself in food to avoid drowning in your grief or anger.

For years, I buried my emotions deep inside of me by shoving food on top of them. Food was always a source of comfort for me. It didn’t judge me. It didn’t make me feel like I was worthless. The foods I ate made me feel good, even if just for a moment, while the rest of my world always seemed to be crashing down around me. Food was a comfort and a friend when I had none. The downside was that even though those foods made me feel good in the short term, in the long term I packed on the weight and eventually developed Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Metabolic Syndrome. My choices to stuff myself full of food to avoid dealing with emotions that I felt ill-equipped to deal with cost me my health.

Today, I make much better choices and I work with my clients to do the same. I know I have to — we have to. The temptations to reach for the sugary baked goods are still there. The days where I feel like I’m not on top of the world and the emotions are too much to handle can show up at any time. Choosing to eat foods that aren’t good for me was a learned behavior, yet so is making better food choices. We have to take back the power over what we put in our bodies.

Emotions aren’t always easy to befriend, but when we do, we are able to choose foods that fuel our body toward health instead of disease. It was never about willpower. It’s about loving yourself and learning to see yourself as worthy of good health and the long-term benefits of consuming a diet that is high in nutrients is key in the battle against emotional eating.

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