Do you know that the average woman wants to lose 10 – 15 pounds more than any other goal? This ambition can be more important than having a successful career or relationship because she thinks that the weight loss is her key to getting everything else she wants. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If we compare the average woman’s relationship with food to the criteria in the DSM 4 (the diagnostic manual used by professionals to diagnose mental health issues) most women would qualify as having an eating disorder.
- Eat large amounts of food in a short amount of time
- Eat when not hungry
- Eat in secret
- Feel out of control when eating
- Eat to feel better emotionally but feel shame and guilt after
There are times when we all eat to self-soothe and so fast that we don’t taste the food. We’re human and it’s normal. After all, when we were infants and we cried, wasn’t the first comfort offered the breast or the bottle? And didn’t we gulp it down only to fall into a blissful sleep again? How could wanting food to feel better be any more normal or primal? Of course we find solace in food!
And what would we do if our mothers (or other caregivers) tried to feed us more when we were full? … Turn our heads away. We were born knowing when we were satisfied.
What’s not normal is when we overeat or binge and the behavior becomes an habitual but unreliable way of handling stress. This is when the shame and guilt set in; when stuffing feelings and the vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting makes us more consumed with losing weight than with having the work and relationships that truly nourish us best.
So are you the average woman or not? I hope not. But if you are, know that it is possible to heal from emotional eating. Though this thought may seem unthinkable now, when you learn to eat to trust your own internal cues, the way you did as a baby, you will be able to nourish rather than punish yourself with food. Why would you want it any other way?