This week, I have become aware of a new invention: a “smart necklace” which purportedly tracks what you eat and drink through throat vibrations for the purpose of preventing overeating. It is an interesting invention from a technological standpoint, but it got me thinking about devices, tools and techniques that many of us buy or employ in order to control our behavior with food.
Years ago, if I would have seen an article about this new necklace, I’d have started thinking about how I could get one. I’d probably immediately find out how much it cost and maybe start planning for it, or maybe just spend money I didn’t have to get it anyways. I felt completely out of control with food, extremely upset with my weight, and desperate for any help I could get in making my lifelong struggle with food and weight go away. I just wanted to be done with it. At the time I wouldn’t have wanted to admit it, but I was totally hooked on anything that promised me weight loss and peace with food.
I tried so many of what I would call “techniques” to get rid of my eating problems. I used calorie trackers. I bought supplements and topical energy patches to boost metabolism. I bought books on chakra meditations and ‘tapping’. I bought affirmation CDs and audio visualization programs that were supposed to reprogram my brain to eat less. I even bought human growth hormone at one point. I had several instances of purposefully spending too much money on clothing that was way too small for my overweight body because I actually hoped the high stakes of spending too much money and having garments too small for my current body size hanging in my closet would motivate me to eat less.
I wanted to think of myself as a person who was more logical than to really think I could just do one more thing and it would all go away. It sounds unintelligent. But I was desperate, hopeless, and terrified that I’d never get out of the prison of food addiction and being overweight. And these emotions ended up driving the decisions I made and overruled what some part of me knew was the truth, and overruled what was clearly logical and intelligent. Despite the deep part of me that knew none of these things would be a miracle cure, I kept seeking for the next thing. I was always thinking, “Maybe I just need to do this.” “I know I’ve tried a lot of things but what if this one is what will really do it?” It became an addiction in and of itself to search for the next magic practice or book or device.
And despite the fact that everything I tried either didn’t affect my behavior with food at all, or if it did, it was only to a rather small effect and never, ever lasted very long, I still kept searching. But the more things I tried and failed, the more I had to admit the truth: these kinds of techniques simply aren’t working to change my eating substantially, and forever.
The only resources that did help me were some books that were the opposite of the books I’d been initially searching for hope in. The books that did help me were ones that told me that I needed to stop looking for the quick fix (yes, even new-age spirituality quick fixes) and recognize that I was just trying to band-aid the real problem. These books were by authors who were honest about the fact that feeling emotions is a harder and sometimes longer road than quick weight loss fantasies. That the only way to truly heal compulsive eating and overeating is to heal the underlying beliefs and to feel buried and currently arising feelings. I’m not saying these other actions, techniques and technologies I discussed at the beginning of this blog are all terrible and useless, but the way we’re using them is to avoid doing the real work–the soul work, which is the work that will actually lead to long-term change.
Any of these methods are just methods to control ourselves. The premise of the constant seeking for tools is that we can’t actually change. We can’t really heal our eating. The best we can do is just control ourselves. We’re terrified we’ll never have freedom with food and the comfort in our bodies that we’ve always wanted. And so, we top one addiction with another addiction: we are addicted to the fantasy of the magic cure-all for our addiction to food.
And in that place, we are not addressing the true cause of our crazy eating and crazy thinking about eating. The true causes are in our souls, and they are emotional in nature. Imbalanced eating (including restricting, by the way — not just overeating) always has emotional roots in our beliefs and our suppressed feelings. That is, the feelings we suppress on a day-to-day basis as adults, as well as deep emotional wounds we may still be carrying, unfelt, from childhood.
Sometimes, we may even have an intellectual awareness that eating and emotions are related, and yet we still hold hope that we can just find the right calorie tracker or the right affirmation to change it all. Many of us, whether we’ve admitted it to ourselves or not, would do almost anything to avoid having to feel our true emotions. We feel we’ve suffered enough with our food and weight, so why would we willingly feel those icky, messy, scary, painful feelings? And yet feeling them and experiencing them is the only way eating changes substantially, and permanently.
Part of why we have this insistence on continuing to search for the miracle solution is because if we stopped, there would be a whole flood of emotions just about the giving up of the search that we’d have to feel. Because why are we searching for more if they haven’t worked so far? Again, because we’re fed up, we’re desperate, we’re afraid, and we’re hopeless. Giving up the fantasy of an easy cure would mean that all those emotions would rise to the surface.
And in my experience, that’s exactly what needs to happen. It may even be the first step: to stop the search and allow all that’s underneath the fixation and false hope of the search to take over. Feel fed up and frustrated. Feel desperate. Feel afraid. Feel hopeless. Punch pillows and scream, or crumple up and sob. The way we release suppressed emotions is to feel them, which is how they drain away from us. And it is how we start to change our eating–forever. Because if we have to wear a necklace or write down all our food to calculate calories for the rest of our lives in order to control ourselves, we are not free. We are not at peace. Not truly. We’re just successfully wrangled and controlled — for now. Until we tend to “fall off the wagon” again, and start the whole cycle over.
But taking the road of changing our beliefs, feeling our emotions, and healing our souls promises something much, much better. It promises that you can heal compulsive eating–completely. You can arrive at a healthy weight for you and stay there for the rest of your life. You can live a life completely free of worry about food, and totally free of weight fluctuation. You can feel happy about your body every day. And yes, you can do it. Not just other people, with the exception of you. You can.
When you address your eating at the root causes, you can dissolve those roots. You get to a place where you don’t need overeating necklaces or weight loss visualization programs, because they pale in comparison to the power of your healing soul. Your healed soul is so powerful that it creates you to become the person you may have not dared to think you could be: a person with no weight issues. A person with no eating problems. At all. I can be this person. You can be this person.
The freedom from compulsive eating, peace with food, and the joy of a healthy body and body size can be yours by making your beliefs, emotions, and your soul the focus of your attention.
photo 1: WearSens photo 2.