Wednesday, January 11, 2012

IS EMOTIONAL EATING YOUR NEW RELIGION?

Have you ever attached to something so intensely that you modified your character for it? Did it change the way you talk, dress, act, behave, the people you allow yourself to engage with, and change the direction of your life?  Maybe that something was your parents, your religion, your friends in Jr. High or high school, a boy/girl friend, your spouse, or even drugs, work, education, a hobby, etc.  
When you made the decision (or was forced) to change who you were to match that “something” did you have to memorize or conform to a certain dress code, like specific things, was there a certain music you listened to in order to be liked by others with the same label, or to avoid being different?  Did you give yourself a name such as a “hippie”, “religious name”, “EMO”, “athlete” or any title that lets people know the general list of character traits they should expect from that label? I have− in many areas.
I was raised religious from the day of my birth.  I memorized character traits, language, and uncountable times even called myself by the name of the religion. In other ways, I conformed to my siblings, what they liked− I liked. How they dressed− I dressed.  My sisters played volleyball− I played volleyball. Then in junior high I remember changing the way I held my posture to match the other girls that I thought were “cool”. If I was with a group of people I would change the music I liked to match what they liked, so they’d approve of me. Changing who I was to please other people and to gain acceptance, began the moment I learned about positive and negative reinforcement. And the boundaries I were to follow were blunt and the enforcement was pretty extreme. It makes sense that my self-worth became “others”-worth.  My entire childhood was to please others, which required I define who I was to match other people, so they’d like and accept me.
When I got to college this completely backfired. That’s when my toddler like self-esteem was put to the test. Pre-marital sex in the religion my identity was molded around, was deemed “the next closest sin to murder”.  Within weeks I was propositioned to have sex.  I was so afraid of causing a problem, making the other person mad, hurting the other persons feelings, and fearful that if I rejected to proposition that they wouldn’t like me or wouldn’t continue to be my friend, that I passively accepted. It felt like rape.
I worried that the sex was awful for the other person, and if I did have sex maybe they’d want to be my boyfriend.  It was over in minutes, and the same boy never put the same effort into talking to me again. You could imagine the rejection I felt, but worse, the complete trauma over the fact that I was going to Hell. If my family found out I’d be judged, scorned, and shamed. The event was extremely traumatic and even worse− I felt profound guilt and anxiety over what a bad person I was.   This was the beginning of a downward spiral that ended up in a severe mental illness.
In short, instead of relying on others to define me, I decided I would find a way to feel good about myself and I chose my body. My body became my new religion, family, and friends. I could define what was good and bad and no one else could give or take from my new security. I obsessed over the way I looked, would measure my stomach at least 5 times a day.  I’d exercise an hour on top of the three hours of collegiate volleyball training. I counted calories precisely so at the end of the day, the exercise and caloric intake would end up at zero.  Within three months I lost physical strength to play volleyball, checked out of college, and lost a full-ride scholarship. All for my new “body” religion.
Here I am today, writing about emotional eating rehab, and what do I know? I’m not a therapist or a psychologist. But I do know this: if you’ve been defined by other people, objects, actions, or a belief system, you might want to rethink when that identity was created, why and who defined it for you, and if it came from a place of fear, vulnerability, rejection, or need for acceptance. 
If you could go back in time, could you imagine the person you are that isn’t defined? If you weren’t in a body, what does your soul feel like? If you were reborn into a new body with a new life, would your soul feel the same?  Would you, by choice, recreate the same life you have knowing what you know? Most people would love a do-over, but feel chained to what they’ve already been defined by, and can’t see a way out.
But that isn’t true. The moment I chose not to commit suicide, I realized that the only other way out was to live the same life that existed, as if I was getting a do-over. I had the same family, parents, husband (I got married at 20 during my psychological illness− my poor parents!), and instead of killing myself, I’d be authentic, let go of all definitions they created for me, and allow the incredible atomic bomb of vulnerability,  as they might reject me.  I recognized that allowing that horrific vulnerability was no different than suicide, so I might as well let the world know the real me, and accept any rejection, before I ended this life altogether. 
Who would I be, and if I gained fat− would that make me worse of a person? Would being fat lessen the value of my soul? If not, than my extremist body-religion was misdirected and wrong. I was going to have to find out. That’s when I left the severe safety my body-religion, the religion my parents enforced me to be, the idea that sex made me a bad person, and all that traumatized and falsely defined the value of my soul. I gave nothing the power to define me, because the value of my soul had to existe with nothing. No person, clothing, action, music, hobby, education, and nothing of this visible world could completely define what I felt of myself. That moment of realization, awakened me to a level of consciousness that instantly changed my perception of life forever.
My point− find happiness and love for who you are with nothing. Seek who you are that isn’t definable by the way you look, how you act, what your job is, nor from what you see, hear, or feel.  Recognize that losing weight won’t improve your life (accept that the body you have won’t be so uncomfortable, and may last longer). And if you think once you achieve that thin body that it improves your value, you’re now define by that, and will have intense fear and vulnerability of gaining the fat back. WHAT A NIGHTMARE! This is why I exercised for hours on end, and why I now have severe arthritis at age 34.
 Being thin doesn’t make you a better person, nor should being fat make you less valuable.  The liberty to eat excessively may be your means of gaining freedom from a constraint you really don’t like. The need to restrict food may be a way that you are seeking a new outward definition rather than accepting authenticity.  Think about who you are, move past the superficial definitions, and find what is indefinable.  This is where unconditional love and self-worth starts and where emotional eating or “eating-religion” loses value.    

5 comments:

  1. Didn't really want to comment as anonymous but here goes. The reason why you affect people with all your research and writing, is because or your authenticity, I think in a way your parents taking you to church did some good, yet it seems to me the message of our wrong doing (such as pre marital sex) Was given by hell fire and no understanding of grace (such as we could do no good anyhow, that's the point of the cross) (and that becoming a reality causing us to love God and do good, and continue to Go back to him even when we snuggle with the wrong (not struggle) anywho enough preaching! I hate the shallowness of the idea that dieting has put out there and I simply appreciate your work and advice, I'm taking it to practice!!!! Hcg jo

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  2. Thank you for commenting Hcg Jo. I was thoroughly and well versed in the power of forgiveness and the atonement. That was never the issue. It was my value defined by religion and the constraints and fear of judgment, disappointment, and what my identity would be if I became that person who crossed over to the 'dark site'. It was the extremist application and definition of my self based on religious rule. I recognize now that most people miss the point of spirituality all together because they need definition to judge themselves by, and others by. The problem isn't religion but rather the definition of self by that measure. Yes, the diet industry is aweful. I bet you start seeing new books about emotional eating from other hcg diet business, who really only want to do what will make them money. Sooooo shallow.

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  3. Wow. I am completely speechless reading this. This is almost exactly what happened to me and I did turn to my body as my "religion" and my value. Reading your blog is exactly the thoughts that went through my head so many times over the last few years of my life. I had finally gotten to a point where I was done worrying about my body image and gaining fat, and I stopped thinking about food and exercise all the time, and it was without a doubt the happiest I have been since I was a child. I had value in what I loved, what I was doing, not what I looked like. My body took care of itself because I treated it right and payed attention to it's signals. Unfortunately I went through a major hurt again a little over a year ago and fell back into my patterns because I felt like I had no value anymore. Reading your blogs and watching your youtube videos has given me hope that I can be "normal" again and not have to do the diet yo-yo for the rest of my life. I now understand how truly MENTAL and EMOTIONAL this is. Rather than blaming my fat or my body, I now understand where the problem really lies. Thank you so much for your blog, your book, and your videos. You have changed my life in a dramatic and wonderful way!

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  4. I believe I was given my person experience for a purpose. It was a gift I went through the intense psychological trauma and recovery process and I know I am here to help others climb out of their emotional grave. I remember feeling so hopeless, desperate, and with no way out except suicide. Allowing myself to feeling excruciating pain, fear, and anxiety while letting go of all of the false identity I'd accumulated from birth was the most important part of the proces stowards identifying who I was, and the magnificence of my soul. That person of who I am is indescribably, undeniable, and cannot be conformed or "labeled". Every single person can have this awakening process. It just requires you submit to being nothing and starting over. THANK YOU for your comment! This is why I am doing what I do. THANK YOU!!!

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  5. Weight loss is possible if you eat healthy. I stress its healthy eating and with some safe pills.

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