“Food is fuel. Not the enemy, not the therapist.” ~Author Unknown
Hi guys! Long time, no talk. It’s been a crazy past week with me traveling to San Diego, then Savannah, then being with my family for Thanksgiving. Crazy in a warm, exciting, and rejuvenating way. Thinking about the holiday season, I wanted to talk about the rollercoaster of food that most people, at some point in their lives, ride on. As someone who has worked with clients struggling with eating disorders, I know how challenging the topics of food, weight, and body image may be for many. We live in a world that demands perfection. Perfect body, perfect relationship to food, perfect ability to say “no” to the holiday cookie. Obviously, this level is unattainable, and even if it is, it takes so much mental capacity to reach it that it does not feel worth it. Fitting yourself into this little perfect box leads to a really un-perfect inside struggle. There will always be a mental dialogue, usually ending with the negative voice convincing you that you’re fat, unworthy, etc. etc… The really mean, awful speaker in your head that is the accumulation of the critical and harmful words you have heard from people in your life or the media.
I like to think of the struggles with food as riding on a rollercoaster. Once you’re on it, you’re not in control, despite what you would like to think. When riding a rollercoaster, you build up the drop in your head. You think to yourself how scary and intense it will be. This is the same as with food. “I can’t eat that Christmas cookie, it’ll throw off my whole diet, people will think I have no self control.” Then you get to the peak of that rollercoaster, where the thought of eating a cookie is consuming you and you’re not able to think about anything else or focus on your great grandma’s story about her farm anymore and you can only think about eating a cookie. You finally give in and allow yourself to eat the cookie. Then, the rest is down down the rollercoaster track. The critical voice jumps in and may say, “You already gave in, you had the cookie, you ruined your diet, you ruined your month, might as well have 14 more cookies and start again when I’m not so easily swayed by a damn cookie.”
The next day you may set the intention to get back on track, making only foods containing fruits and vegetables and promise to yourself that you will ward off any treats in the office. Then night falls, and you’re hungry. Fill in the blanks with whatever would happen for you in that moment. The rollercoaster continues, and you may find yourself on that ride over and over again until you get down to the bottom of what this cycle does for you.
One of my favorite phrases of wisdom is If not eating something will stress you out more than eating it, why not eat it. Meaning, if you use an incredible amount of mental energy convincing yourself not to eat a cookie, then you should probably save yourself the internal struggle and have it. Easier said than done, of course, but this is a topic we will continually discuss because of how important and prevalent it is… and because of how infrequently it’s talked about! So as we continue on into an incredibly joyous month, I hope you allow yourself to enjoy your food so that you can even more so enjoy the company of the friends and family around you.
Can you resonate with riding on the rollercoaster of food?