Hello Fellow Earthlings,
Recently, I’ve been thinking about how I’ve always been disconnected from my body, and how my relationship with food has always been a rocky one. Since the early days of my human life, I’ve treated food like my soulmate in the saddest of circumstances, and a best chum’ that I can always rely on. I’ve celebrated with a three course meal, I’ve mourned with unlimited buffets, and felt complete when ‘diets’ have temporarily helped me, but I’ve never felt real contentment within myself. The cycle of habits and emotional eating were so ingrained into my brain that I was completely unaware of it for the best part of my life, which got me thinking, how do I, in the most loving and kindest way, break the cycle?
What is considered an unhealthy cycle?
Every Human on this earth is different, that’s what makes us so special, so it goes without saying that every Human experience is also different to another. I’ve discovered that there are many roots and triggers of an ‘unhealthy cycle’ that are caused by many habits that you pick up in life. Some examples are:
• Eating Processed/Unhealthy food for convenience: Life is busy, and after a long day, I sometimes don’t want to cook. All I want to do is run a bath and listen to Aretha Franklin. It’s become easier for me to whack a frozen pizza in the oven, than it is to prepare a full meal. Though ‘Junk food’ can be great in moderation, It’s important for any human to find the balance between these foods.
• Stressful Lifestyle: Stress is a common factor in unhealthy habits, that can ignite any old or current habits as a source of comfort. You may have uni work piling up, struggling with time management at work, or being a single parent raising children. Everyone’s cause of Stress is different, but they can all lead to an unhealthy eating pattern. A stressful lifestyle can also cause emotional eating.
• Emotional Eating: Or known as stressful eating, or binge eating, is something that is very prevalent in my life. Emotional eating is the intake of a lot of calories, often eating ‘mindlessly’ to mask emotions, or to distract from the stress of life. A death, depression, work, or life, in general, may cause this.
An article by Queensland Government, Australia, suggests that Cycles are created by dieting choices, or as most fittingly, the Dieting Cycle, which points out that diets start with depriving yourself of a certain food, and because human nature and self restrictions don’t really match with each other, you then feel guilt for “giving in to temptation” and start the process all over again.
Source: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/ assets/pdf_file/0030/154983/ wtmgt_dietingcycle.pdf
On a WebMD article, John Foreyt, PHD, Baylor College of Medicine, Behavioural Medicine Research Centre, says “Over time, habits become automatic, learned behaviours, and these are stronger than new habits you are trying to incorporate into your life,”
Foreyt suggested, for someone to break the cycle of unhealthy habits, he came up with something he likes to call…
The Three Tongued Approach
A simple approach with three rules that are:
Being aware of your habits, and how they are affecting you. These things take time, and as you become more aware of your habits, you begin to notice what they actually are. For example, whenever I am sad, I go and buy an egg mayonnaise sandwich from my local supermarket, this started as a one off, to treat myself, and soon became a daily occurrence, that I would look forward to.
Understand what the roots and causes are of your habits. It could vary for anyone. It could be caused from stress, trauma, sadness etc.
For my personal eating habits, I realized that a lot of my binge eating habits come from my early childhood. When I was around 7, I had noticed that lots of people (especially adults) were commenting on how “big I was getting!” Around the age of 9, my friends and I were enjoying a summer day in my friend’s grandmother’s garden, who had recently purchased a brand new trampoline. Trampolines had always fascinated me, but I had never been fortunate enough to own one, so this particular moment was a moment I had been waiting for. A group of us all scrambled on, excited, laughing, about to jump and…
“Oi!” I heard the Grandma shout, beckoning me over to her. She then proceeded to lecture me on how expensive the trampoline was, and feared if I joined my friends, that I alone, would cause the Trampoline to break. She made me sit and watch my friends, whilst they had fun on the trampoline. I think that this experience was a big contributing factor into the eating disorders that I later developed in life, as it secluded me and put negative thoughts about my body into my head, because this adult woman decided to comment on my body.
Remembering and analysing this situation, that I had buried deep inside within the cavities of my mind, made me understand the basics of my habits, and how these situation affected me. This realization propelled and encouraged me to deal with these events, because I felt like it was necessary to let go of this attachment. Doing so, I felt free from this particular moment. It no longer fed on my conscience. I wasn’t aware at the time but I was actually setting the foundation for my healing journey, igniting conversations with myself and family regarding the experiences I had with my body during childhood.
Change is a big word, a daunting one too. One thing to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight, and trying to change everything at once can be overwhelming, however, it is suggested to start small and one thing at a time. This is not a race, but a journey to discover and understand your body, and what your body needs, which is love. I always have to remind myself to be kind, to show myself love, because that always makes change easier.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MINDFUL AND UNMINDFUL EATING
Mindful eating, which is based on Zen Buddhism, is a practice of eating mindfully, with the objective to eat tasty food that is good for the body, and to enjoy all of the nutrients It provides you, rather than the aim to “lose weight” which is the ideology of most diets.
A person eating unmindfully may:
• Eat whilst acting upon emotional responses. (Sadness, depression etc)
• Multitasking (Working whilst eating/watching tv etc)
• Eating comfort food
• Eats quick, not really tasting the food.
A person eating mindfully may:
• Listen to the body, when the stomach feels full.
• Take time to eat with no distractions.
• Savour each taste, whilst enjoying the sensations.
• Taking your time between each taste, putting cutlery down may help you as a reminder.
My thoughts on Mindful Eating
Mindful Eating is something that I didn’t practice as a child. Binging and eating unmindfully helps me understand how this was a contributing factor in my journey of eating disorders.
I found that I started eating mindfully when I became an adult and went to Drama School. I was very fortunate to live with people who taught me how to cook, and I always enjoyed the whole cooking experiencing with them, from deciding what to eat to the chopping, frying, or blending, then eating the marvellous creation together was always the best part.
If you have been struggling with anything I’ve mentioned in this post, or similar, please know that I see you, and hear you. You are not alone, ever! Life is a strange and wonderful journey, filled with complex emotions and feelings, but remember every human life is a true gift, and how we conduct our journeys on earth is up to us.
We may not understand our bodies, and comments about our appearances may have made mental marks, but once you understand that none of that matters, that the only vital thing to focus on is our happiness, giving love to ourselves and how we treat others, then we can appreciate and love our bodies, inside and out, for what they are:
Vessels of beauty.