What To Do If You Can’t Stop Obsessing About Food
I healed my relationship with food over eight years ago. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean it’s perfect; it’s more like I don’t live in “diet land” anymore. I don’t obsess about what I should and should not eat, or imagine myself eating certain foods that will break my health goals. The constant worry about gaining weight is gone, and overall I’m comfortable in my day-to-day habits surrounding food.
However, over the years I’ve noticed that when major life transitions happen, I end up thinking about food more than what feels healthy to me. If I’m following the practice of Intuitive Eating (i.e., I’m taking care of the physical and mental part) and I still want to eat, I know it’s something deeper.
For me (and many others) this can look like:
Thinking about food, even if your stomach is full.
You want to eat all the time.
You tend to overeat more often.
Food doesn’t satisfy you.
Your cravings for sugar don’t get fulfilled, even after you’ve had something sweet.
Your mood is low (sad+angry+hopeless+worried+anxious).
You may not feel great in your body.
*This has nothing to do with what’s actually happening physically, but you may feel more bloated and heavy in your gut.*
If you have any of these symptoms, this is when you know that it’s something more than physical hunger. It’s nothing to beat yourself up about! However, unless you actually take care of the deeper need, food won’t do the trick. This is why, even if you eat, the feeling of needing more will keep coming back.
By now, I know my body well enough to know that when change happens in my life I can expect to see the food “thing” show up. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. Think about it this way: everyone has a THING. For some people it’s gambling, drinking, retail therapy or social media. While you can’t necessarily be addicted to food if you are intuitively eating, you can definitely use it as a way to avoid certain feelings or life challenges.
We all know: OBSESSING ABOUT FOOD IS NOT FUN.
Here is how you can deal with it to get some relief.
Don’t try to fix it with a diet!
Most of the time the instinct (because we feel like shit) is to try and restrict or manipulate food. But if you’re practicing Intuitive Eating, you don’t want to change what is working, especially if the real problem is tied into something deeper. Changing up your food won’t take away the discomfort you feel. Therefore, try to steer away from diets during this time. You don’t want to create two problems instead of one.
Call a friend!
It’s simple, but a lot of our suffering comes from bottling it up inside. The more you let your feelings out and share it with someone else the less you will feel like you’re stuck or trapped in negative thoughts. Call a friend and tell them ‘I need you to listen to me, I’m having a hard time with _________.’ ‘There is stuff going on in my life that sucks right now and I’m wondering if I can share it with you.’ Trust me when I say this, sharing my internal struggles with a loved one has saved me from doing harmful things with food.
GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR EMOTIONS SO YOU CAN STOP NUMBING WITH FOOD.
Go outside or be in nature.
Try to go for long walks and get outside as much as possible. I’m not talking about the kind of walk where you’re getting your heart rate up and burning calories. I’m talking the kind that are slow, mindful, meditative and help your nervous system relax and take a break from food obsession. This is why even going outside and breathing fresh air can be helpful too, as it changes up the energy flow in your body.
Take a hot/cold shower.
There is something about being under running water that truly gives you a break from your mind. Perhaps it’s the soothing affects or maybe it’s just a way for you to get in to your body and away from obsession. For me, being under hot water always calms me down and can break the pull towards food. I’ve found that by the time I get out, I often feel more peaceful than when I got in.
Take a tech break
Try reading instead. This will help you zone out, but not in the same way technology does. I get off of social media because it just instigates that comparison thing in my head when I’m already not feeling great about myself. If you’re in a low place, can you see how that would make it worse? It distracts you in the moment, but then you pay a really big price later surrounding your mental health. Take a break from your mind and just pick up a book. It helps!
Allow yourself the space to be in it.
What I mean is that we are not supposed to feel good (physically) all the time. It’s not humanly possible. If you don’t feel great, don’t run away. Ask yourself, ‘What am I feeling right now?’ For me, it usually circles back to fear, anxiety, the unknown.. all of it. Just acknowledging that is very helpful because it makes me realize that I don’t actually want to eat.
I hope this helps you!