Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Struggling with “F” Words: Thoughts from a Fellow Feaster

by Deb Torell, M.A., LPC. LMFT

Being a Christian woman, I try to avoid swearing. Even when angry or Frustrated, there has to be a better way to communicate how one is Feeling. But I have to admit, I still struggle a lot with “F” words.

 For example, the word Fat. Not a pretty word in my opinion, so it requires a bit of self disclosure. The word Fat brings back childhood Feelings of being undisciplined and needy. My mom was slender and always worried about her Figure…and mine. She was horrified when she learned that I was eating the unwanted Food of others at the school lunch table---the cookies, chips, and other stuff that other kids did not want to eat. Who knew that I was Feeding my Feelings after my parents divorce? However, my habits did explain my growing girth as a nine year old. Mom took me to the doctor, who told her I would “grow out of it” when I went through puberty. I eventually did, but my view of self as Fat did not change for some reason, even when my Figure was really quite Fabulous.

Then there is the word Food in general. I suffer with the mixed messages from the experts, as we all do! What to eat? What not to eat? Is that safe? Why can’t I eat that and others can? The Fridge “should be” off limits after seven pm. Weigh yourself. Don’t weigh yourself. Watch the corn syrup. Read the labels. Don’t eat red meat. Eat chocolate. Drink vinegar. Watch your carbs. Count your calories. Uh oh! Here comes menopause! We all have to eat to stay alive, but there are so many confusing ideas about eating and Food in our culture! And, oh my, how it affects our view of self! How do we navigate Food and Feelings in a healthy, Functional way?

There are tons of books out there on disordered eating, emotional eating and overeating. Take your pick! But remember that “Change happens,” says Geneen Roth in her book, Breaking Free from Emotional Eating,” the way a plant grows slowly, without force and with the essential nutrients of love and patience.” (pg. 139)  Our eating habits and lifestyle have become entrenched in our brain, and making changes is a slow process. Gaining solid information on the purpose and role of food in our lives, becoming more aware of our habits, noticing our hunger and satiation, seeing places in our lives where we can begin to make small, incremental changes in the kinds of foods we eat, becoming more mindful as we eat (as opposed to being on automatic pilot when we consume food), these are all ways we can begin to enter into the process of a permanent change. The benefit of beginning the journey is that we will have more energy, less pain, and maybe we will get into those once tight jeans again! Even small successes and victories contribute to the building of our good feelings about ourselves.

Fountain Gate is beginning a weekly group, Women, Food and Feelings, to aid you on your journey. It will meet beginning Wednesday, September 19th from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. We will be discussing all kinds of topics around Fat, Fit, Food, and breaking Free from Emotional Eating. Having support and opportunities to process your particular struggles are key to success! Bring your Friends! We would love to see you there.