**Let me preface this by saying I want to honor the pain and struggle many of you are currently facing due to your eating struggles. If you are currently experiencing a lot of pain and suffering from them, please reach out to an experienced therapist or counselor for help — this article’s timing is not ideal for you and my hope is to never invalidate the deep pain and consequences of disordered eating. My thoughts are with you**
Many wonderful leaders in the field of helping people transform their relationship with food have said, “Your eating issues (compulsive eating, binging at night, starving yourself, yo-yo dieting) can be a great BLESSING in your life.” And I 100% agree.
When I tell people that, I usually get the… “What?! You think it is a blessing for me to have this eating thing– it is a curse! That’s why I’m here. To get rid of it, control it, get back to normalcy.”
While I understand the frustrations of the physical and emotional torments and consequences of these eating behaviors, simply “making the problem go away” doesn’t really address the core of it. That’s why I’ve seen people get bariatric surgery only to regain the weight, or go under the knife to realize that straightening their nose didn’t make them any happier.
People turn to food when they are not hungry (or away from it when they are) because they are truly hungry or starving for something that they cannot name.
People become obsessed with getting rid of their obsessions without first being present in these obsessions and asking themselves, “what purpose is this serving?” “What beliefs is this behavior telling me that I hold about myself and the world around me?”
The truth is, getting rid of one obsession does not cure you of the real ailment: the emptiness or absence of love, compassion, feeling worthy, or of knowing what to do. We turn away from these emotions by focusing on diets, eating food, or distracting ourselves in many other ways.
In so doing, we turn away from what can truly heal us, that is — holding our emptiness, our hurts, our fears and knowing that we won’t die (even though sometimes it feels like we will) when we do embrace them and that we can truly be present with ourselves, with all of those hurts, with our spirituality.
Geneen Roth puts it this way, “Ending the obsession with food is all about the capacity to stay in the present moment. To not leave yourself. You don’t have to make a choice between losing weight and doing this, weight loss is the easy part — when you truly listen to your hunger and fullness cues, you lose weight.”
This goes for every end of the spectrum, it is the turning away from listening, trusting, and being present in our bodies that also embodies our ability to listen, trust, and be present with the essence of who we are.
So why is your eating problem a great blessing?
Because it can be the thing that helps you turn back to yourself. If we become curious about it, it can help us learn about who we are, and where in our life we are disconnected to ourselves, and to others.
It can be a great tool for finding ourselves if we try to see what is behind it, versus trying to force it into submission or out of our lives without getting the message and growth that it is telling us we need.
So today, I am grateful for the struggles I’ve had past and present, and the struggles of my clients (even though they think I am nuts when I say this!). Because from here, we grow, we begin to see our hurts and heal them, and we turn back to ourselves and our spirituality.