Within the “diet industry”, there are an abundance of promises for quick fixes and FAST results. However, these short periods of dietary changes seldom create long-term outcomes. After years in my practice, I recognize that releasing weight and becoming emotionally healthy go hand in hand.
When losing weight too quickly, you may find it difficult to keep up with the changes emotionally. Let me explain. Most people do not realize that processed food is usually their way to cope with uncomfortable emotions. For example, how often have you gone through a pint of ice cream or a favorite dessert when you were anxious or lonely? How often have you overeaten and then promised yourself that the next time, and the time after that, will be different?
Although these habits can be changed, they require a longer-term approach that involves layering changes over time at a pace that works for you AND addressing the emotional root causes of your relationship with food. For example, if you are bored with your career and desperately want to be in a relationship, it will be more challenging for you to sustainably change your relationship with food until your life becomes more satisfying. Processed food and sugar is readily available and one of the main reasons for consumption is to give you a momentary high and block uncomfortable feelings. When you are carrying an underlying, unpleasant emotion throughout the day, due to boredom or lack of a meaningful relationship, you will often turn to food to get you through these emotions. How often do you need processed food to help you cope?
What I’m suggesting is that you become aware of the emotions that are blocking you from nourishing yourself with whole foods and also realize that the process of health is a journey, not an event. Listening to your emotional needs and learning how they can sabotage even the most dedicated dieter requires bringing to your awareness why you do what you do. And often, when you create positive changes in your emotional wellbeing, it affects not only your weight, but your life. Keep in mind that sustainable change is not a one-time event, but a continual refining of the journey.
Everyone’s journey to wellness is unique. Depending on how you’ve cared for yourself over the years will determine how long your journey to wellness will take. Here are some significant reasons that cause your recovery to take longer:
• Trauma and/or a difficult childhood
• Long term pharmaceutical drug or alcohol use
• Heavy sugar consumption
• In some cases, a long-term vegetarian or vegan diet
• Ignoring your health for a long period of time
• Ignoring chronic food sensitivities
• Toxic relationships
You may wonder why negative emotions are so important to bring to your awareness and resolve for a weight loss program to be successful. Most people do not realize that emotions are stored in the body and need to be addressed for good overall health and wellbeing. For example, the ‘heavy emotions’ of deep-rooted shame, unworthiness and guilt, are stored in the body and can often perpetuate weight gain. It is imperative to look at the whole person when creating health, especially the emotional side.
Creating health takes time, but a commitment to growth brings with it some amazing results. For example, some of the people that I’ve counseled have discovered their artistic side, started new hobbies, developed new friendships, started new romantic relationships, changed jobs, grown closer to their partner and have grown and evolved in many ways.
Quick fixes do lull us all into a feeling of “this time will be different”, but when we look back at all of the ‘promises’ it just might be more satisfying to make a commitment to confront what is not working and try a sustainable approach. People often think that getting away from their beloved sugar or processed food is going to be miserable, but eating satisfying, delicious whole foods leads to having more energy, feeling comfortable in your body, freedom to move as you’d like, positive moods, better confidence and so much more. When will you start your journey?