As an ex-chronic dieter with a type A personality and a history of bad relationships, the book When Food is Love, really struck a chord with me. It shed light on so many aspects of not only emotional eating, but how it relates to our approach with men, that I had to share her work and the parts that resonated with me the most. This is part 2 of the 2-part review. You can read part 1 here if you missed it or want a review. All direct quotes from When Food is Love are in italics, with my commentary and questions below.
There is nothing boring about being a compulsive eater. You are either hating yourself because you are too fat, giddy with the prospect of being thinner, or ready to rip yourself apart when you binge. Chaos, intensity, and drama are normal in the day-to-day life of a compulsive eater. Suffering is a way of being in the world.
What do you believe your life be like if food was not an issue? Boring? Lifeless?
Sit with this question and notice what comes up for you. Does the answer give you some insight as to why you may have been inconsistent with your efforts in the past?
What’s at stake when you decide to give up the obsession:
The significance of giving up the obsession with food is not a thinner body, not a smaller pants size, but giving up your protection from pain, for when you protect yourself from pain, you protect yourself from intimacy.
When we carry the protection of being overweight, we get to blame others for our results. We get to keep ourselves for going out on dates, taking chances, involving ourselves deeply with another human being as we protect ourselves from the “inevitable”…being hurt. If we don’t have a date, we say because I’m not think enough. If we don’t jump up and ride the mechanical bull, we say I don’t want to look like a fool as we compare our size to the others, forgetting the fact that it is about the thrill of it all. Always holding ourselves back and blaming the weight for it.
Is it not possible that the object of your affection happens to be caught up in his own mess and it really has nothing to do with you?
Oh, the struggle:
I used to wonder why I liked the bad boys, the ones who were emotionally unavailable and unwilling to commit. The ones I really had to work for. The ones that came easily I had no interest in. Geneen’s words hit me like a rock when I read them:
When something is hard, we know it is worth doing. If we have to struggle, we have a purpose—and winning the struggle gives us a feeling of accomplishment.
The same is true for intimacy. If we are comfortable with struggle and suffering, then we will choose partners who are not attracted to us, who are alcoholics or drug addicts, who are incapable of making a commitment.
I, like many chronic dieters, was either on or off the wagon, going at it hard or not at all. If you choose to believe that one mistake will ruin everything, you slip into a world of black and white right or wrong, good or bad. There is no gray area. No room for mistakes, only judgments and fear of failure and ultimate loss. This seems to be a large part of the reason why many chronic dieters have such strict rules for eating and toss everything to the side if they succumb to one urge to eat a “bad” food during the day.
When you grow up believing that you are loved because of what you do, not who you are, your survival depends on doing the right thing.
Healing the wounds of the past:
When you eat a frozen pizza because someone at work said you looked like you had put on a few pounds, you haven’t proved to yourself, your mother, or your ex-leader from Weight Watchers that you can never lose weight and will be fat and ugly for the rest of your life: you’ve eaten a frozen pizza.
The first step in healing is having an honest look at the past with the knowledge of today. If I am looking at a situation from my past that I want to heal, I will do a thought download, and write down everything I think about the situation, all of my opinions about it. Then from Byron Katie’s work, I ask myself is it true? How can I know it’s true? Finally I ask myself, who would I be without that belief?
You are the only one who can provide yourself with unconditional love, safety, and constant attention. Only you.
In addition to really taking a look at the past, Ms. Roth recommends following a few basic guidelines, like filling your house with the foods you love, listening to your body and allowing yourself to eat whatever you want when you’re hungry (that includes ice cream or chocolate for dinner), and learning ways to nourish yourself besides eating. Through this process you get to choose to stop being the victim and take your power back.
To heal, and subsequently stop overeating, we must believe healing is possible and be willing to feel our feelings rather than eat them. She states that the purpose of healing is to be awake for our lives, not to be happy all of the time.
Most people rage against their eating. They hate it and themselves. They’re tired of spending so much time thinking about their obsession with food. They want to be done, but their impatience to end their misery prolongs it. Hate does not heal anyone, ever.
In the end as it relates to relationships:
The question is not when or if you will meet someone you love; nothing will change when you meet the love of your life except that you will have met the love of your life. The work begins when the infatuation ends.
The question is what will you do when it gets hard. How can you trust someone when you’ve never learned to trust yourself?
I could say the same of the quest to really face yourself and stop overeating. Are you willing to put forth the effort and commitment? Will you stay with yourself and know that the negative emotion will pass and treat yourself with compassion if you make the choice to eat instead of feel?
Join us for the SELF-love fest on Facebook. I’d love to hear your comments.