Let’s face it, food can be very pleasurable and it can offer a lot of comfort in our lives when we need a little extra TLC. As babies, being fed is definitely a main source of feeling loved and nurtured. So using food for comfort has been a very primal coping strategy since the beginning of mankind.
Enjoying the pleasure of certain “less healthy” food for the sake of pleasure is absolutely fine…..once in a while. Even if the driving force behind looking for pleasure comes from a source of angst and you use food, but as long as it is just occasional that is also reasonable.
Where people run into problems is when they cannot manage this relationship between food and needing pleasure or comfort. When it is happening too often or the amount being eaten is too much then that will lead to weight gain and it will make it much more difficult to stick to any weight loss plan.
I was reading a novel recently and one of the lines in this book captured this concept beautifully. The fictional book is called The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles. The main character is a woman born in France in the 1920s, Odile. In one of the scenes she is living in the US and is in her 70’s. She has befriended a family and has taken their teenage daughter, Lily, under her wing. Lily arrives at her home one day after school and is very upset for a variety of reasons. Odile suggests they make cookies which they then sit down to enjoy with tea.
Lily has 2 cookies and then starts reaching for more and as she does this Odile makes a comment regarding Lily’s desire to have more cookies, which is beautiful. She says
“Two feed your stomach, the rest your soul. We’ll find another way to soothe your heart and soul” at which point Odile hands Lily a book and says “Literature, not sweets”
Doesn’t that capture the essence of what is happening beautifully
This provides a much more compassionate way of looking at one’s unhealthy eating patterns. Rather than being critical of one’s behaviour, imagine reframing the situation when the desire to overindulge is strong by asking the question, “What is the pain one is trying to soothe in their soul???”
This simple question will lead to much more profound insights and will help to create other ways of “soothing the soul” rather than using food.
Here are some examples of strategies that clients of mine have created for themselves over all the years I have been working with people helping them to be successful in their weight loss journey by changing behaviours around food.
The first step is to identify what the pain is that needs soothing and then depending upon that pain develop a list of alternative coping strategies:
- Talking to somebody either about the issue causing the pain or simply just talking and connecting with somebody who makes you feel loved and okay.
- Music is very powerful for some people so create your playlist of feel good songs or healing sounds
- Movement in the form of Dance is a very ancient way to move the energy and get the endorphins flowing
- Other forms of movement such as yoga, stretching, walking any body therapies are helpful
- Looking at meaningful photos definitely is a way to pull us into an emotional state that can be very healing and shift our mood dramatically
- Laughter is the medicine of the Gods. It has a powerful effect on our neurotransmitters, immune system and mood. So keep some of your favourite funny books, podcasts, or videos around that you can turn to, so you can have a good chuckle or belly laugh. Maybe call somebody in your circle who just makes you laugh.
- I have one client that would go “play” in her closet. She would re-organize her clothes, try some items on and move the clothes that were now too BIG for her out of the closet and move the ones that she loved and now fit her up to the front. For her that was a definite craving buster and endorphin booster.
- If none of these ideas really inspire then just think about things you do or USED to do where time stopped. You know that feeling that when you start an activity and next thing you know you look at the time and hours have gone by and you haven’t even noticed. For me that is dance, I have friends who would say it is painting. What is that for you?
Taking the time to reflect on other ways to Soothe One’s Soul can not only help with managing cravings it will help with stress and overall quality of life.
I hope you found this information helpful.If you want to learn more:
- You can book a complimentary call, and discuss your challenges, and obstacles, and together we can determine if my program is right for you.
- You can also go to my Facebook page, @DrSherBovay, where you can find and join my Private Facebook group, The FastLane Mind Body Reset Mastery Group. Here, I host Facebook lives and frequent posts where you can engage and learn more