For years I abused food and my body because I believed that I wasn't good enough as I am. That I had to be thinner, prettier, and smarter to be loved.
I wouldn't let myself eat normally, which only perpetuated my idea that there wasn't enough in my world—I literally didn't give my body enough food.
And of course, restriction led me to binge, as it does for so many women.
If you find yourself stuffing food into your mouth to the point of discomfort and disliking your body's shape, you are probably thinking that you don't have enough of something, and that you are not enough as you are.
It was only through allowing myself to fully recognize the enough-ness in my life that I was able to stop my emotional eating habits. I was able to retrain myself to eat normally and learned to give myself enough of what I needed. Here's how I did it:
1. All foods are allowed.
I used to put certain foods on the "bad" list.
Eating "normally" means no foods are morally right or wrong, and everything is allowed. This meant that I ate a stick of butter a week for a year. It meant that I put whipped cream in my coffee sometimes. It also meant that I ate ice cream for dinner … enough times to realize it didn't make me feel very good.
Do you avoid certain foods because you're scared they might make you fat? What would happen if you told yourself you're allowed to eat anything when you're physically hungry?
2. Focus on what feels good.
Once all foods were allowed, I became more focused on what felt good to my body instead of what my mind thought looked appealing.
Try noticing how your body feels 30 minutes after every time you eat. Get curious with the specific sensations in your body—do you feel tired, bloated, energized, exhilarated, etc.?
With enough practice and awareness, food will naturally become as appealing to you as it makes you feel, and you will no longer have to restrict yourself to stay healthy. Your body will lead the way.
3. Make food abundant.
I had to prove to myself that I wouldn't restrict myself anymore and that food would always be available to me. So I carried food with me wherever I went and ate whenever I was physically hungry.
Do you ever wait until the last minute to eat and then end up overeating because you're so hungry? I invite you to carry snacks with you and eat enough food whenever you feel hunger in your belly (unlike emotional hunger, which comes on quickly and happens in your mind and mouth).
4. Make mealtime sacred.
Send gratitude and love to your food and water before you put it in your body. Sit down when you eat and minimize distractions. Eat in a calm, safe environment and avoid negative conversations. Put your fork down between bites. Light a candle, play soothing music, say a prayer, or pull a card if that helps create a sacred space to nourish yourself.
The more you take your time and create a delicious experience for your body and soul, the more satisfied you will feel after eating, and the less likely you'll be to continue eating past comfort.
5. Make space for feelings and frivolity.
Women are nourished in so many more ways than food, although many of us have forgotten what truly makes us feel full.
What filled you up as a child? For me, it was spending time in nature, speaking with plants, singing, and dancing on the grass. Make time for whatever frivolous, playful, or magical side of life you may have left behind. These aspects of life are just as important as anything else if they make you happy and fill you up. You have permission to play.
6. Remember you are enough.
You are enough as you are. There is nothing wrong with you. You are not broken. You are whole, lovable, and perfect, exactly as you are. Let yourself eat. Let yourself live. Let yourself soften into love. Don't wait until you lose weight.
"If you are waiting for anything in order to live and love without holding back, then you suffer. Every moment is the most important moment of your life. No future time is better than now to let down your guard and love." —David Deida
Don't let your body hold you back from love. There is nothing to change. There is only your life to be lived. And it's happening right now.