Time to blast away some of the obstacles to full and vibrant food recovery. We have been told for decades that we should avoid at all costs a sense of deprivation around our food and eating.
Famous diet programs exhort people not to worry: do our diet and you can still eat lasagna, cheesecake, and brownies. Do this and you won’t feel deprived!
The resulting anti-dieting forces suggest you surround yourself with an abundance of the foodstuffs that are most tempting, so you can grab them at a moments notice. These alluring foods are then so readily available (no deprivation!), that you will cease to care about them. They will just drop away from your life!
Both are wrong-headed.
What if it is our own distorted relationship with food that creates the deprivation? If obsessive food thoughts and compulsive eating behaviors fill your waking hours and restless sleep, you forfeit energy that awakens your relationships, your commitment to your work, and your sense of wellbeing and self-esteem.
The real and true deprivation is the life we lose if food is the most important thing in our day.
No one can take food away from you. You are the one with choices, the one who can let go. If you have lost the ability to make choices about food and eating, you are the one who needs to reach for help. And you will meet the grief that goes with letting go of the foods and behaviors that cause problems.
If an alcoholic stops drinking, they are going to experience gut-wrenching loss: of relief, comfort, familiarity, and anesthesia. Although alcohol may no longer “work", there is loss of the fantasy that it may again.
The surrender of problem foods gives rise to grief that must be felt and processed. If food has been best friend, constant companion, solution to every problem, and automatic response to pain, the grief will likely be a portal into the losses of a lifetime. That is why this work is done with abundant and loving support from those who also walk this path.
Eating real, wholesome, beautiful food that nourishes you never creates deprivation. But letting go of foods that are toxic to your individual biochemistry and eating behaviors that are detrimental to your health and sanity may uncover heartbreaking deprivation that has been hidden under your compulsive eating.
Recovery is coming to understand and appreciate that food will never fill the emptiness within us. This is an emotional and spiritual journey that begins with letting go.
Blessings on your journey.
Lynn Elliott-Harding, RN, ACC
Coach to Recovery
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