The gnawing hunger became relentless but what I needed wasn’t in the fridge. All was not well, and when I turned a deaf ear my spirit started signaling me through my belly.
I didn’t know how to listen back then, mostly because when I did, the feelings were too uncomfortable and I didn’t know how to deal with them. I started using cake, chocolate and various other edible numbing agents instead. It took lots of cake and suffering before I was ready to accept that it wasn’t about food.
Chronic dieting had been the perfect set-up for binge eating. Emotional eating repeatedly without investigation into the emotions driving the eating had trained my brain that the shortest path to emotional peace was eating. And because of the dieting, that took the form of every food and beverage I would deprive myself of for the week or two before the binge.
I’m no stranger to digging through the garbage to find the leftovers I thought I’d made inedible from the binge a half hour before. The original anxiety and emotional discomfort would return immediately after the food coma. Only now there would be the added disgust with myself, and fear when I considered the calories I’d just consumed. What to do? Eat more cake and order a pizza.
It truly made sense in the moment. Now I understand that it was the best I could do for myself at that time. But the reality was I felt totally out of control and terrified. I’d trained my brain that the shortest path to peace was paved with fat and sugar.
Now what? Diet more and harder. Eat more cake. Exercise more. Eat even more cake. Eat cabbage soup and celery. Eat a bigger cake. Eat nothing but salad. And so on. It made for a dramatic merry go round of shame and insanity that I couldn’t escape.
But I did escape. And it took lots of courage, love, support, deep work and a touch of serendipity. Understanding that there was a biological explanation for how I got into my situation and why it was so hard to turn it around was freeing. Releasing shame and fear opened the door to self-compassion.
I stopped thinking of myself as a freak, stopped hiding and got to work. It took tremendous work, commitment, a sense of humor and repeated attempts at rewiring my brain’s pathways to pick up a pen instead of a fork, to work out my stress or thoughts that had gone sideways.
Feelings of despair about my future, a lack of balance, joy and fulfillment were in part why I turned to eating for comfort. I needed to look and deal with at all of it. Counting points and calories burned on the elliptical was a great distraction but not a solution. The more I softened my grip on dieting and my body shape, the more time and energy I had to be open to creating a vision for my future.
I worked in real time with compassionate specialists and healers from a variety of areas. They were endlessly supportive and held the space for a healed me when I couldn’t see it for myself. We have a saying in coaching that captures it exactly, “my certainty is greater than your doubt”.
I studied mindful eating and applied what I knew to be true of good nutrition and took a chance trusting my body again. I felt the difference almost immediately. I was able to turn my attention away from points to the business of repairing my relationship to food, moving, my body and most importantly my life. It was amazing what I could do when I didn’t have to think about food every minute of my day, even in my sleep.
And that’s how Off Your Plate Nutrition and Mindful Eating Nutrition was born. I fell in love with real food and cooking again, rediscovered my awe for the workings of my body and the impact of conscious nutrition on it. And best of all, I discovered a passion for health & wellness coaching and mindful eating. I was compelled to put I all together with my own personal experience to be of service to others who are struggling. And so here we are. Thanks for being here.
PS: If I used to work with you, yes I was at work the day the icing disappeared off ALL the gourmet cupcakes. Oops. Sorry.