How food addictions eat at your soul.
Is your relationship with food a spiritual problem?
You know the saying about not seeing the forest for the trees? When you wake up every day and the first thing on your mind is either:
a) What you shouldn’t have eaten yesterday
b) What you are going to eat today
c) When you can work out to burn calories
d) All of the above
Your mind is so used to ping-ponging between these thoughts that the problem stays focused on your behaviour and the inner fight with the voices in your head.
I usually address the psychological and emotional aspects of food struggles – what you think, unconscious beliefs, feelings, and how you numb those feelings.
What I haven’t written about is the spiritual aspect of this problem. Your relationship to your soul and spirit may be the main reason why you are unable to answer questions such as: “Why can’t I just eat when I’m hungry?”, “Why do I binge?”, “Why do I stuff myself with food?”, and “Why do I turn to food when I’m angry/lonely/guilty/envious?”
Even a preoccupation with healthy eating can be an addictive behaviour. Orthorexia is a new term used to describe an obsessive preoccupation with not eating anything perceived to be unhealthy.
Dr. Gabor Maté, author of In the Realm of the Hungry Ghost, has a broad definition of addiction: “Addiction is any behaviour that has negative consequences but a person continues to crave it and relapse into it, despite those negative consequences.”
Deep down, when we engage in behaviours that we regret, we know that we are harmingourselves. It is that harm to our essential self that speaks to the need to consider the deepest part of our being – our soul, and paradoxically, the big picture.
When we turn to food as a coping mechanism, or focus too much on what we eat, we may be avoiding our essential self, denying our soul the attention it needs, or preventing it from expressing itself.
Time for some soul searching?
If this idea is speaking to you, step back and take a different approach to your eating habits. Turn your attention away from the what, when, and how much when it comes to food. Just for a day or over a weekend, give yourself some space to explore.
Whether you believe in a specific religion, spiritual philosophy, nature, or the universe, identifying your “raison d’être”, your values, or just coming clean with yourself about what is important to you may shed some light on why food means so much to you.
A key part of healing my relationship with food was acknowledging that I was on a spiritual journey. Looking at my struggle from a soul perspective allowed me to step back and listen to what my soul needed.
By seeing my food and body issues from a spiritual perspective, I was able to understand the bigger life lessons that my soul was learning.
Instead of feeling frustrated and disappointed when a situation would trigger a binge, I would compassionately ask myself, “What lesson is this teaching me?”
Having more compassion for myself translated into one of the best gifts we can give others…understanding and compassion.
I focused on the positives, on what made me happy, rather than on how to stop bingeing.
There isn’t one simple answer to why we eat too much, obsess about food, or use food to cope. When I dealt with my eating behaviour (bulimia), I looked at family dynamics, became aware of negative self-talk, and asked myself the big questions about the meaning of life…and the meaning of my life. That was a turning point.
Be well and ask your soul what it is hungry for.