Last year, I attended a talk by Allison Kinnear, the owner of a Voice of her Own and an amazing coach for women leaders. In her talk to busy, high-achieving women, she spoke about the importance of self-care to fuel yourself. I find for my clients when they prioritize their self-care not only do they feel happier, more energized, and calm but inevitably those around them get to benefit.
There was one particular exercise Allison led the participants through that I particularly loved. It was an incredibly simple question that I think can help you distinguish between when a habit, such as eating, is beneficial for you and when it is detrimental.
One key question to begin healing your relationship with food is:
“Is it pleasure or is it numbing?”
After all, eating food is pleasurable… most especially when we’re hungry, just as water is pleasurable when we’re thirsty. Our body is designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain, which is why the sensation of hunger is painful and moves to eat! However, after a certain point, the pleasure we get from the experience ultimately lowers. When our body is satisfied and you are present with your food, you’ll actually recognize that the tastiness of the food will decrease as you continue your meal. (Ever eat a whole bag of popcorn and realize how dry your mouth was or how dehydrated you were as you continued?)
There’s a saying that goes “too much of a good thing…” because ultimately if we overshoot the satisfaction point, we start numbing ourselves. After all, to eat past fullness is pretty damn uncomfortable when you start to pay attention! Being present and mindful during your meals is key to catching the satisfaction point, where you might even start to eat only half a cookie and stop once you’re satisfied.
Those same activities can also be used to numb out pain. We all have our habits to procrastinate and avoid painful feelings, which shows up differently for other people. Perhaps, we overeat, binge watch TV, or scroll for hours on Facebook. Perhaps we’re procrastinating an assignment we “have to’ do or just don’t feel like cleaning up the house. Or maybe we’re stressed and tired and eating something we do to cope and numb out that pain. While these actions aren’t bad necessarily, it’s good to pay attention to what purpose the food or action is serving for us. Awareness is always the first step in making change.
So how do you distinguish between using something to “numb” yourself out or when you’re doing something for true pleasure? What activities do you find the most pleasurable? What activities do you tend to use to “numb” yourself out? I invite you to pull out some paper to reflect. I also invite you to use this exercise not to judge yourself but a way to build your awareness and decide what to do from there.
Interested in learning more about how to bring more mindfulness in healing your relationship with food and body? If you are looking for support and are ready to find your freedom with food in the next few months, I’d love to support you. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and to apply for a complimentary Breakthrough to Food Freedom Consult here. ($250 value).