The other night I lay in bed watching Oprah’s 20th Anniversary DVD collection – a gift given to me by my best friend. Story after story of incredible people that have touched and changed the life of Oprah caused my tears of inspiration to flow. One particular person I really identified with – the story of Rudine. Rudine suffered severely from anorexia nervosa. She wanted so badly to battle and win this condition, but her emotional relationship with food and herself was so damaged.
You see, I can identify with this woman because at the age of 13, I came face to face with anorexia nervosa. It followed two very painful events in my life. Looking back, I now understand I was unable to cope with all the emotions I encountered. The anger and hatred I felt – because I could not outwardly express it – was turned inward. I began to hate my body and food became the enemy. I exercised like crazy and eventually ate only 1 small meal per day. After finally breaking that cycle, I swung to the other extreme and began to binge eat late at night. Other things replaced food until, at the age of 21, I got serious about facing and healing my emotions.
I share this with you because I think it is important to understand the devastating effects our relationship with food can have on our health. Maybe you’ve never suffered from anorexia nervosa, bulimia or obesity, but your emotional relationship with food is still worth examining. In an ideal relationship with food, you eat when you’re hungry, and you eat the healthy foods your body needs. Your body weight is healthy and you aren’t experimenting with the latest diet. Healthy eating is your way of life, and your physical wellbeing reflects that – not just your body, but your energy level, mood and internal health as well. So come on this journey with me and let’s explore some of the common emotions or situations that can trigger unhealthy eating. Pay attention to whether any of these strike home for you. If so, try substituting some of the alternatives I suggest so you can begin healing your emotional relationship with food.
Angry Eater: When you are very angry with yourself or someone else, do you turn to food? Maybe you’re mad because you made a mistake and so you beat yourself up with food. Try confronting and expressing your anger in a healthy way, and then forgive and let it go.
Stress Eater: According to Dr. Phil, “when you are under stress, your body releases hormones that automatically stimulate your appetite and set off cravings, prompting you to eat huge quantities of fattening food”. Take 15 minutes of quiet alone time or a 15 minute brisk walk instead.
Convenience Eater: You don’t have time or don’t feel like making something healthy to eat, so you grab whatever is convenient – fast food or take home, chips, donuts, etc. Keep healthy and convenient foods around the house and at the office – fruit, granola bars, Lean Cuisines, string cheese, and yogurt.
Tired Eater: Morning comes around or the afternoon energy runs out and you need a kick of sugar to keep you going. You load up on cookies, cake or other sugar snack foods and you’re off and