One of the trickiest parts of healing your relationship with food is knowing what to do and how to take care of yourself when you’re feeling all the feelings.
It’s usually in these moments that we say “it’s no big deal” or “screw it,” and end up undermining our long-term relationship goals. In order to get to a peaceful relationship with food and get out of the diet/ binge cycle, we have to practice a different, more loving way.
When dealing with feelings, it’s so important to first and foremost- validate yourself. There’s no right or wrong way to feel, and your feelings make sense- they’re there for an understandable reason (even if you’re not sure what that reason is!). When we fail to validate our feelings, we often tack on EXTRA emotions- emotions like shame, embarrassment, and guilt. Then, not only do we keep feeling our painful emotions (for example, sadness), we often feel even WORSE – we’re feeling sadness PLUS shame or guilt.
After you’ve acknowledged and validated how you’re feeling, you still may find these uncomfortable emotions to be tough to sit with. It’s in moments like these that we must find ways to handle discomfort without making it worse. The expectation isn’t to make ourselves feel good or happy; but rather to simply let ourselves feel what we feel, and get to the other side of the moment. For many of us, that’s a real expectations shift.
Of course, one big thing that makes things worse, not better, is EATING. While it may give us that short-term comfort we so crave, it also comes with a powerful punch that only leads us to feel worse in the long-run.
Without food on the table to help us deal with emotions, we need to find other ways to cope and deal. These are called our skills- things we do to help tolerate the moment without making it worse. That means if you’re feeling sad, and you watch a movie to take your mind off things, you may still feel the sadness after the movie, but you haven’t made the moment worse by turning to Sugar.
Sometimes skills can help to pass the time, giving you space to feel a little different and make a better decision. Once in awhile using a skill can improve your mood, but that’s an added bonus. Above all else, the sole goal is to get through the tough moment without turning to food, making an icky situation even ickier.
So remember to validate how you feel, use your skills to get through the hard moments, and at the end of the day feel proud of yourself for how you maintain your integrity with food during this challenging time!