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Although many disregulated eaters yearn for the day when food is no longer the center of their lives, my experience is that when this happens, they experience substantial disquiet within. Much as they’ve waited for food to be just nourishment, they’re not sure what to do with all the open space in their minds—and their days.
Stopping any major habit can leave a hole in your life. Maybe you went out for a drink every Friday night with friends after work since high school, until they started to pair off with romantic partners Or perhaps it was the Sunday night basketball game that had been going on for years and got scotched when too many of the old-timers no longer wanted to play regularly. Or maybe your favorite Thursday night TV shows aren’t there in the new Fall line-up, or your sister, who’s been your best bud, moves away.
If food and weight have been a major focus of your life for decades, you may feel their loss when you no longer are obsessed with them. Even as you’re experiencing joy that every waking moment isn’t consumed with thoughts of food and the scale, you may also be feeling slightly bereft. You think, Wow, I sure have a lot of time on my hands now and I don’t know what to think about or how to use it. Rather than stay in discomfort and think something’s wrong, recognize that you’re experiencing a major life shift. No need to judge yourself for not knowing what to do now that you’ve given up your unhealthy food habits. Simply be curious and open to your feelings.
Having an obsession—and then not having one—may leave a big crater in your life. Worrying about food, eating and weight can be a central organizing focus of your life, and when you remove it, you may feel an odd emptiness inside. What will you worry about now? What thoughts will fill your spare moments? What activities will stir up your passion? What will you talk about with friends and family if not food, diets, what you can/should/shouldn’t eat? What will center you when you feel discombobulated?
You may grieve for the years you spent preoccupied with every morsel that entered your mouth. You may experience regrets, but please don’t be angry with yourself and never berate yourself for time you think you wasted obsessing about food or weight. That was then and this is now. You learned, you changed, you grew, and are a better person for what you’ve been through. Be open to new thoughts, activities, and interests and be absolutely assured that you will find better things to fill your mind and your time. Experience your feelings without dwelling on them and let yourself move on.
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