There Is Life Between and Beyond a Food or Weight Focus
One of my clients made an amazing discovery I want to share with you. Her worries about food began as a child when her mother insisted that the family eat totally clean and she was forbidden to eat sweets and treats. When she wasn’t thinking about food—what she should and shouldn’t eat—she was thinking about weight—how much she’d gained or lost. Eventually, she began to rebel against her mother’s rigid food rules while thoughts about food and weight consumed most of her mental energy.
Fast forward to today when she’s evolving into a “normal” eater. One day in therapy she shared an ah-ha moment: She’d spent most of her life obsessed with either eating or weight. During non-diet times, she fantasized constantly about cravings and what foods she wanted to binge on and berated herself after emotional eating. When dieting, she rarely thought about food because she knew exactly what and what not to eat, when and in what amounts. When dieting, thoughts of weight flooded her mind—how much she could lose, looking forward to weigh-ins when she thought she’d shed some pounds, and berating herself when the numbers on the scale inched up.
Now, since she’d stopped dieting and weighing herself regularly (which took many attempts over the years), she found herself thinking about food more than ever. She’s keeping a journal of how often food desires pop into consciousness. Because she’s spent a good deal of time learning about what triggers her emotional eating, she decided not to analyze why she’s craving food, but to simply note how often her thoughts turn to what she could eat. She was quite surprised at how often these thoughts popped into her head.
What she finally realized is that she wants to expand her life and develop interests other than weight and what she puts into her mouth. She wants a life beyond food and the scale. She yearns for joy, meaning, and goals that have nothing to do with chewing and swallowing, fat grams and calories, or gaining and losing inches.
The life of a dieter or binge-eater (I speak from personal experience, having spent the first half of my life as both) is actually quite boring and dull: Everything revolves around two mundane aspects of life and nothing seems as important as either eating or what you weigh. Partners and spouses, children and friends, work and play, creativity or travel all pale in comparison to food and weight, weight and food. Isn’t it time to give yourself permission to find joy, pleasure, and passion in your life beyond them? What are you waiting for?
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