A big part of developing a healthy relationship with food, is realizing it’s not actually about the food! It’s that other F-word: feelings.
I really struggle with being with my feelings, as I’ve talked about in many other posts. I will do anything to avoid dealing with them, including using food to escape them. I know I’m not the only one. In my journey toward normal eating, I’ve found one of the best strategies for dealing with food triggers is learning to become more comfortable with the feelings that trigger them.
The book “End Emotional Eating” by Dr. Jennifer L Taitz is exactly what this book is about, learning how to sit with uncomfortable feelings in that very moment, & later implement strategies that allow you to take breaks from those feelings.
Two strategies discussed in the book were already quite familiar to me: acceptance and adding emotional noursishment. I’ve done a lot of work on accepting my emotions in my journey to end emotional eating. I’ve also really worked on adding emotional nourishment to my life. I would say that strategy was one I really took home with me from Green Mountain.
I learned to add more joyful activities to my life, get rid of the ones that didn’t bring me joy, and I tried to find joy in the ones I couldn’t rid myself of! I’ve added in more meaningful relationships. I’ve connected with my local spiritual community. And, I started journaling. Adding emotional nourishment looks different for everybody.
But one new strategy I learned about in the book that I found very helpful was Urge Surfing. Just like waves rise and fall, so do our food cravings and feelings. Often when I get stuck in a feeling, like I did with my anger, I feel very hopeless, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. However, I learned from many past experiences that feelings and cravings don’t last forever. I just have to learn to surf them! Here’s how to surf those food and feeling waves.
Be nonjudgmental about your urges to eat.
Carefully observe them, like a scientist might.
Calm your body.
Gauge from a scale of 1 to 10, how much stress you are feeling.
Ask where in your body you feel the tension or desire to eat.
Think about how you might feel if you do eat out of emotional hunger, as opposed to physical.
Check in again after taking some deep breaths.
Has your stress gone down a level?
Decide when you need a break from your urge, and over time, you will be able to stay on the surfboard for a longer period of time.
Give yourself credit for how long you are able to sit with these uncomfortable feelings.
Really let that credit imprint into your memory and neural pathways.
Change is possible, but we have to give ourselves grace and lots of patience. Surfing is a process!
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” –Carl Rogers