In the reflective weeks after our second Binge and Emotional Eating Weekend Intensive at Green Mountain at Fox Run, I continue to be struck by the power of connection and community.
Other people matter.
Weight Stigma and Emotional Eating
Those of us who struggle with binge and emotional eating live lonely and isolated lives. We live with a secret, one that is too humiliating to share with others.
Just living in a weight biased culture, one that makes food and eating a moral issue of being either good or bad is enough to keep us quiet. Why would we tell ANYBODY what or how much we ate during a binge episode?
“What a life-changing weekend. Wonderful experiences and wonderful connections with people. It felt so good to be able to laugh about something I find so shameful.” – March 2015 Participant
We overvalue our size and weight, using it as an indicator of our worth. So not the truth, but understandable given the internalized message from society and sometimes our own family.
If this isn’t already enough to bear, we turn to food to soothe and to escape. Of course we do.
Unfortunately, this leads to more feelings of shame, more need to soothe and escape and on goes the cycle.
We begin to find the safety of being alone. Sad, but true.
We miss important social events because we don’t want people to see that we have gained weight. The very thing that may keep us from being with others may also unconsciously help us. Our size becomes a buffer or a way to keep people away, protecting us from being rejected or hurt by others.
Given ALL of this, still, other people matter.
When a group of women find one another in a safe, protective environment, we begin to share.
We hear our story in others, thinking, “I thought I was the only one”…or admit for the first time to another human being, that we have eaten a can of frosting when alone, after everyone has gone to bed, in order to just relax enough to get to sleep. Our shame begins to leak out of our eyes and down our cheeks, opening up space to take in love and care from others.
“Others begin to tell us that we are not alone and that we can heal, that there is hope.”
I’d like to think that the accomplished speakers at Green Mountain at Fox Run are the special ingredient to the success of these Weekend Intensive Programs, but staff takes a back seat to the power of the group experience, the community of Green Mountain participants.
It is a risk to go somewhere where no one knows you, but the reward is leaving with a support group for a lifetime.
There is real science to this stuff.
A quick high five or a 9-second hug can raise oxytocin which increases feelings of trust and lowers cortisol which reduces stress.
We were made for relationship and our health depends on it. Suffering in silence is actually working against you, Isolation creates a bodily state of physical and psychological stress, it holds onto every protective ounce of you…just trying to survive.
Other people matter.
Check out our upcoming Science and Practice of a Non-diet Approach to Healthy Weights Weekend Intensive on April 16 – 19, 2015. This will be Green Mountain’s last intensive of the season, but if you can’t come, consider spending a week or two or more with the staff this year, rather, people just like you.