Struggling with Compulsive Eating? Try This.

Here you go again. You’re visiting your parents and they start asking you, not so subtly, what kind of maternity-leave benefits your company offers. Suddenly, those mixed nuts are popping from hand to mouth without stop.

Or you’re at a friend’s house and it’s over-the-top gorgeous. Suddenly your smaller and simpler condo doesn’t feel so beautiful, even though simplicity makes you feel serene. Those hors d’oeuvres are coming back your way and you want the whole tray.

A wedding invitation comes in the mail. Oh no. What will you wear that hasn’t been seen before? Suddenly, that refrigerator calls. The stress is too much. 

If you have body-food issues, you are probably sensitive to society’s pressures and the demands of others.  And you often stuff your feelings down to get by and survive.

You may believe what others tell you about what you should look like and you know this one well – what with all those magazines that shout images at you of the latest version of the perfect body.

You likely have been expected to have a great career, get married, have children, and be what others wanted of you.

Those are easy programs to fall into. Who hasn’t been pushed in those directions? 

LawyerA lawyer I know went through years of education and practice because there were generations of lawyers in her family,  just to realize that she didn’t like it one bit.

All of these external expectations have an impact.  As a child, you had no choice, too young to say No or Enough.

As an adult, the way back to what you believe and want can be confusing and hard until you discover that you do have choices.

When you try to fit in at the expense of your own heart and soul’s desires, there is a backlash.

You might conform but inwardly you are outraged.

It’s about breaking the spell of all those ways in which you comply with what others want, that no longer fit.

There is no keeping the soul and spirit down. You can try to quiet your discomfort with food or other activities – and your body will take the fall.

This is the kind of thing that makes you and me reach out for food and other comforts, doesn’t it?

And this is tough stuff to read, to take in, to think about.

So pause here, and breathe. Now breathe again.

Where Do You Begin?

The journey to a compulsion-free life involves finding out who you are and what you think, feel and need and then voicing your perspective.

The way back to reclaiming your own life is inward. Gently and with curiosity, you venture within. 

What if what has meaning for you and what you care about is different from what’s expected from those close to you?

Clues are already available, waiting to be mined, recognized, and attended to. These clues are connected to your heart, intuition and body. In any of the programs, we focus on discovering your personal values to get you started.

When you find that someone is stepping on a fundamental value of yours, wanting you to accept their way and you have another perspective – notice what is happening in your body.

graduation day

3 Steps to Help You Navigate

Let’s say your mother asks you again, “When are you going to move on with going back to college? ”  You can feel the frustration rising in you.

1. What are you feeling? Stay with yourself, in your body and feel. 

Stay here and notice that you’re being triggered. You don’t have to respond now. You can notice that her question is not sitting well with you and that you don’t like disappointing her. In your body, you feel fear, anger, frustration and hopeless. Will she ever understand?

2. What do you believe and want in this situation instead? Explore with curiosity.

You’ve been investigating other alternatives and you want something that will be meaningful to you and of service to others. Massage therapy fits the bill, and this is not what your mother had in mind. What you want to do is talk to other Registered Massage Therapists to see how they started in business.

3. Now get concrete with what you feel and know. Write down what you think, what you feel and what you want. Talk it over with a trusted friend. Make sure that your friend can support you in your vision for yourself.

Here’s where you get to write whatever comes to you. Write it all down – how you feel, what you are thinking, what you wish you could say, what you want to say. No one has to see it. Then, when you are ready, you can begin to speak what you know is true for you.

That’s how you begin. By deeply listening to what is coming up in your body and by being curious.

By beginning to write and discuss what you are learning with others, you get the benefit of hearing yourself and owning what is true for you in that moment.

If you give yourself time between your body response and speaking for your position or opinion, some of that emotional energy will dissipate, making it easier for you to speak.

Staying in the discomfort of this new behaviour is courageous. In other articles, I will be discussing how to say what you need to say and stand for who you are becoming. In the meantime, contact me for a complimentary Clarity Session.

Reclaiming your authentic self is a life-long process that requires patience and presence.

The feminine has slower rhythms,
moves in spirals,
turns back on herself
finds what is meaningful to her,
and plays.
                           ~Marion Woodman

Over To You

What are some of the ways you please people rather than pleasing yourself? What would you rather do in those circumstances? What do you notice in your body in these situations?

Tell me what you think below. Your contributions and learning will help others who are on their own journeys.

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© Miriam Linderman 2014

Top Photo creditTracy Hunter / Foter /Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Bottom Photo credit: wrightbrosfan / Foter /Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
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  1. Thanks for this, Miriam – such an important topic.

    My most recent compulsive eating happened at a networking event; I’m normally in my element but this group weren’t people I felt I fit with.

    I tried to please by asking about themselves; I was feigning interest in order to please them, and I was trying to cover up the awkward silences.

    And to numb the awkwardness, I found myself eating a flapjack that I wasn’t hungry for.

    I’d rather have excused myself politely and sat silently in the sunshine, enjoying my own company 🙂

  2. I hear you, Corrina.

    Social situations are often triggers, even when people aren’t strangers. Planning what you’ll eat – or won’t eat – ahead of time helps, or holding a cup of something while mingling.

    Focusing on people rather than food is the way to go for sure.

    Sitting in the sunshine would have done the trick, and who knows, someone else who felt like you might have joined you!

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