I know the feeling. You’ve had such a great week of eating healthy and nourishing meals. Your abs are getting tighter and your feeling lighter. (Did I mention more confident and sensual in your body?) Your beautiful Mama drops by with your favourite meat and potato curry – your eyes drool over the memories of the sensational flavours it brings back. “Just one plate” – you tell yourself. Except that your daily lunch of quinoa salad with roasted kale and sweet potato is replaced with a hearty meal of meat, potatoes and white rice for the next few days. “Eeeek! what happened?”
It’s so weird and funny writing the above because I actually used to freak out over one ‘unhealthy’ meal. I actually believed that eating one unhealthy meal/snack (despite eating healthy majority of the time) would make me fat and sick. If I had one Snickers bar ice-cream, I’d exercise much more than usual to work it off. Pretty crazy huh? 😉
For 3 months, I worked 1-1 with a wellness coach and food freedom warrior. I’d spend an hour every 2 weeks over Skype getting coached and mentored on freedom around food. This wasn’t your typical weight-loss coach or nutritional therapist. This was deep stuff – we we’re getting deep into why I was turning to food as a coping method and changing my mindset, beliefs and relationship around food.
I’ve split this post into many parts because I could go on forever talking to you about healing from emotional eating but I don’t want to loose you in the process 😉 So bismillah, lets get started with part 1:
The biggest, life changing shift for me was learning to give up restricting and controlling food.
I don’t care how disciplined you think you are, when you control and restrict your food, you are waiting for a binge to happen. It’s literally around the corner. Restricting your food and binge eating go hand in hand. If you want to stop feeling crazy around food, give up the restriction. Yes, I’m telling you go and eat that tub of salted caramel ice cream if that’s what you truly desire.
Depriving yourself of foods that you desire (albeit foods that are not so great for your body) will only increase the temptation and cravings to finally give in and catch up on all the foods you’ve been missing out on.
Control is an ILLUSION.
The very thing you set out to control, ends up controlling you.
(Hello failed diet plans and fitness guides?!)
You were never in control of your food in the first place – that’s why diets never last. You didn’t lack willpower or discipline, diets and diet mentalities are created in such a way that you won’t succeed in the long run. Even if you lose weight going on a diet, it won’t be long before the weight creeps up again.
Are you worried about gaining weight if you finally let go of the control and restriction?
Here’s the thing: when no food is off bounds, it becomes less tempting to binge eat (which is causing you to gain weight in the first place). When you give yourself permission to emotionally and physically enjoy your favourite foods – eventually you don’t crave it as much. And even if you do, your body is smart enough to be able to deal with the extra fries or cookies.
So what’s the way forward?
Trusting and leaning in to your body. Listening to your body and respecting that choice with love and acceptance. It’s about honouring your truth at that very moment.
What’s your truth?
Maybe your truth is not to eat that chocolate cake because everybody else is eating it. Maybe your truth is to indulge in extra gelato ice-cream on a night out with your friends. Your truth isn’t dependant on how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ a food is according to you. Your truth is dependant on feeding you emotionally, spiritually and physically.
That’s what makes it so powerful.
An extra scoop of ice-cream on a night out with your girls, might be incredibly satisfying emotionally and physically. Indulging in that would do more good for you than holding back and riddling your body with guilt and shame. When you’re in a situation to eat or not, ask yourself ‘what’s my truth?’ And go follow it.
The beautiful thing is that when you truly listen to your body, more often than not it’s not the sugary foods you’re craving. More often than not, stuffing your face with oily foods isn’t what your truly after. But before we look into what’s really going on for you (stay tuned for part 2), give yourself permission to eat whatever you like (all halal of course). Don’t label food as good/bad but genuinely enjoy every morsel of food.
P.s When I first did this, I was feeling really anxious. I thought “what if I let go and end up eating everything that I see?” What really happened is that when I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted without guilt or deprivation, after a while I stopped craving it. Initially I ate more junk food than I’ve had in the past but eventually I stopped craving it because I realised it was giving me what I hoped it had.
P.s.s. If you found this post helpful, please share it along to your family and friends. I know it’s an issue that so many women face on a daily basis. I know too many women who feel so helpless when it comes to emotional eating. This article could be the starting point to someone changing their food habits and life. So please feel free to share it with your loved ones x