I acknowledge that this blog might not be relevant to everyone, but I felt it was a topic that needed discussion.
In todays society, we completely shy away and are ashamed to talk about the topic of eating disorders. But according to the Department of Health & Children, they estimate that:
• Up to 200,000 people in Ireland may be affected by eating disorders.
• An estimated 400 new cases emerge each year, representing 80 deaths annually.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Binge Eating is defined as a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating.
Almost everyone overeats on occasion, such as having seconds or thirds of a holiday meal. But for some people, excessive overeating that feels out of control and becomes a regular occurrence crosses the line to binge-eating disorder. And occurs when the individual is feeling negative emotions towards themselves or an external factor.
When you have binge-eating disorder, you may be embarrassed about overeating and vow to stop. But you feel such a compulsion to ignore the issue that’s causing you to act out that you can’t resist the urges and continue binge eating.
Recently I listened to a podcast which touched on the subject of binge eating, and the reasons behind why people turn to binge eating. It is as a result of us not being able to face truly face our feelings and emotions. Why as a human race are we so afraid to feel? Why do we shy away from negative emotions, but long for the happy ones? Do we really know what true happiness is if we never experience negative emotions?
How often have you felt sad, angry, depressed or lonely and reached for that bar of chocolate promising yourself you’ll have one or two squares, but comfort eat the whole bar? Or ordered that pizza to ‘make you feel better’? how many times have you dunked a spoon into a whole tub of ben and jerrys because ‘you deserve it after the day you’ve had’.. sound familiar? Yeah, we’re all guilty of it. So why is this topic not discussed more?
When I really sat down to think about it, it started to sink in. Everything that was being said, I was agreeing with. I had previously acted out in this way.. Ate in abundance instead of allowing myself to feel. Using food as a comfort. Then when the feelings of guilt started to creep in from overeating, this led to more eating in the effort to avoid the new emotion.
We go through life not wanting to let ourselves feel pain, sadness, stress, anger and anxiety, but we expect to feel happiness all the time. Doesn’t make much sense does it? It’s just not realistic and nor do I think it’s healthy. I think that having a full healthy life means really embracing the contrast in the world. I think the more alive we’re willing to be, the more negative emotion we’re going to experience.
Now, that’s not to say that we don’t create negative emotions either because we do. We create them with our thought patterns or with the way that we think. And sometimes it doesn’t mean that something has gone terribly wrong. Sometimes when we feel negative emotion, things are going actually going terribly right and we panic. Those can be our indicators that it’s time to connect and become more conscious and dive into ourselves a little more.
It is when we start to feel these negative emotions, that’s when trouble starts. We start to act out, we ignore them, and we look to food for comfort and as a distraction and we overeat. Instead of tackling our emotions head on and determining where they are stemming from, we try and distract ourselves away from feeling.
The ability and willingness to feel negative emotions can be very difficult and it tends to bring up huge levels of resistance for many people. Resistance is our inability to accept something. The resistance is our desire to make that not be true. Resistance creates so many problems because what it does is it denies truly our experience of being alive and we spend so much time running away from ourselves and diving into unconsciousness and pretense. It’s like we create this side life that’s whatever we do to avoid, and it’s not just by binge eating.. for some people it’s drinking, some people it’s eating, some people it’s overworking, some people it’s overdoing it and we pretend like that is our life. We create that experience as if that is our life while missing out on the true experience of emotion. What are we so afraid of feeling? And Why?
And boys, (if you’ve made it this far) feeling your feelings is not just for girls. I think that feeling your feelings is the most courageous thing anyone can do and when you’re willing to feel any emotion, that’s when you’re going to be willing to take any action because you won’t be afraid of the emotion that might accompany it, right?
Why not try this the next time you feel this sense of emotion start to overwhelm you or when the want to indulge and overeat even though you’re not hungry, why not allow yourself to feel? Instead of eating, instead of avoiding your emotions, practice feeling negative emotion. Ask yourself, what is it that you’re trying to escape from? What is so awful that you want to eat that tub of icecream? What we realize is because we’ve been resisting our emotion for so long, we don’t even know what it’s like to experience an emotion.
Sometimes, feeling your emotions will lead to some discomfort at first. Try and give yourself a certain period of time everyday to just allow whatever negative emotion that you’re feeling to come up and be experienced, you will actually learn the skill of how to feel a negative emotion strategically instead of hiding from it. When you learn how to feel a negative emotion, you also learn how to feel a positive emotion. You’re learning how to feel. And you are less likely to erupt like a volcano when all the emotions you have been bottling up become too much. Whether you are feeling shame, grief, sadness, anxiousness, just let it in.
Ask yourself these questions: What is so awful about it that you’re always trying to avoid it? Is it really as bad as you’ve told yourself it was? Has resisting it been better than actually feeling it? Notice how long it lasts. Are you willing to stay with it long enough to let the discomfort of it happen and come out the other side of it?
Do this every day, and see does it change your habits. See does it have an impact on your tendency to binge eat. Think about where these emotions are stemming from, and really try change your mindframe and circumstances. Focus on the positives of every situation, but let the negatives sink in. and then let them go. And always remember that not everything is as bad as it seems. The feelings of negativity will pass, but the feelings of guilt that can occur post binge may linger a little longer.