The Body Decides…
Notes by Jordan…
Thinking of over-eating (or eating too little) as being the result of an emotional unconscious process helps us see there is something going on under the surface of awareness that is driving the problem. If losing weight, for example, were as easy as simply doing a little exercise and eating less, then who would be overweight? If a weight problem could be solved with eating foods with reduced fat and drinking diet sodas, then everyone would be running around skinny. But, our eating and getting rid of unwanted pounds is much more complex than changing a few of our eating habits and becoming determined to exercise. (Did you ever wonder where all of the fat goes that is taken out of food to make it “low-fat”? There must be mountains of fat that was removed from foods, somewhere.)
EMDR Therapist and Distance Counseling
|Jordan Shafer, MS, LPC, EMDR Therapist, Distance Therapy
Using EMDR to help people develop a sense of secure attachment to self and others...
One realization I got from The Gabriel Method) is that the body decides what size it is going to be. If it decides to be big then it’ll be big, if it decides to be slim then it’ll be slim. You may override the body’s decision for awhile but in the long run the body will win out. Let’s face it, 95% of diets fail. No one who is growing excess fat on their body really wants to do that and they haven’t for years.
Most of the yoga postures (asanas) for “slimming” are the ones that cause you to squench the fat. Bending poses, for example, cause the to fat get in the way, so you have to feel it. Feeling the fat in that way is good because it helps you become aware it is there, and “remember it” when you’re eating. (Isn’t it amazing that we can deny the body size while we’re eating even though the body is right there with us, while we’re feeding it food it doesn’t need?) The other benefit of doing asanas that cause us to feel the fat, is that if you do it enough the body will decide it needs to get rid of it. At that point, when the body decides it doesn’t need the fat anymore, or better yet, the fat is a detriment to its’ survivial, then it will leave the body.
Gaining weight past our “natural” size is a very complex mixture of stress, activated neural pathways and well ingrained habits. Of course, if you’re still eating a diet that consists mainly of processed foods, meat that is chocked full of chemicals and antibiotics, and rich in dairy – milk and cheese – then you may be eating well but nutritionally starving. It is also true, that moving towards a nourishing diet is not the complete answer, but it’s a great place to start.
The role of stress in eating goes well beyond feeling stressed-out and then eating too much. In other words, you may be doing stress related eating even though you’re not “feeling stressed” in that moment, and that can be confusing. And in addition, it takes more than simple relaxation to reduce the stress I’m talking about.
Stress, which is either external – what is ‘happening to you’ – or internal – what you are ‘thinking about’, and also habitual as well as wired into body processes related to things like time of day and unconscious triggers is a constant part of life. Because food is being used as a way to regulate stress then you get out of balance and it shows either in weight gain or weight loss.
Unconscious eating comes in many forms such as:
- Severely limiting types of foods
- Going from diet to diet
- Hiding boxes of food
- Eating in secret
- Following ‘crazy’ schemes for losing weight
- Becoming obsessed with certain foods, either eating them or avoiding them
- Serving extravagant amounts of foods to loved ones or those in your care
- Becoming obsessed with what others eat
- Thinking about food all of the time
- Getting overly caught-up watching cooking shows
- Focusing on getting others (partners or children, for example) to eat more, or to eat less
- Obsessing about weight gain or loss
- Compulsive weighing
An emotional charge gets set-up in the body as internal reistance, which is created from unfelt feelings. We live our lives around the discomfort of those feelings and this is what drives most behavior. When we were developing we learned that a lot of what we did wasn’t okay. The feelings that came up around fear and a deeper knowing that “I am probably right about how I feel, even though I still want to please you, even though we both know I can’t” are frozen and unintegrated. The unintegrated emotional imprint is driving most unconsciously driven conscious behavior.
Be sure to get yourself emotionally back into focus by knowing you can feel anything and it’s okay, instead of avoidng feeling by indulgent eating.
You know your eating is coming from ’emotions’ rather than ‘hunger’ when you stop eating because:
- The food is gone
- Social constraints
- You’re too stuffed to put anymore in
- Diets that restrict food intake (counting calaries) may seem to work in the short run, but over-time they do not work.
- The eating program that you use to lose weight should be the same diet that you will use to stay healthy and maintain weight.
- Eating our regular ‘bad food diet’ and throwing in a few healthy choices doesn’t work.
- Whatever you eat, the body wants more of – this is true for all types of food:
- Eating sugary foods – candy, adding sugar to drinks, etc, makes you want more sugar
- Drinking coffee makes you want more coffee
- Eating bread makes you want more bread
- Eating cheese makes you want more cheese
- Eating greens, vegetables and fruit makes you want more of the same.
Changing the Wiring in Your Brain
Mindfulness & Meditation
We’ve lost our connection between our emotions and our body and meditation helps get reconnected. Becoming mindful, thoughtful and aware of what you are doing really helps you stop living the same life you’ve been living that hasn’t been working.
Doing a regular morning meditation is a great way to become in touch with your natural self. Just 5 to 15 minutes of breathing in the morning helps reset your “cosmic clock” so you get more in sync with your life as it is showing up. A good way to meditate is to focus on your breath while doing “connected” breating. (Connected breathing is breathing through the nose, connecting the in-breath with the out-breath).
Mindfulness is a practice you want to develop doing regularly during your day.
We use EMDR to help with weight issues in three ways:
- We use EMDR to help the brain get free from the emotional patterns that are locked in the brain that cause internal stress. Unresolved and untegrated emotions from past emotionally charged experiences can be driving your behavior and you probably aren’t even aware it is happening. We can use EMDR to detect these stuck memories and help get rid of them. Unless this is done, you may never get free of emotional eating.
- EMDR can also be used to desensitize current eating triggers.
- After historical triggers are resolved, current triggers are desensitized then we can look into the future and use EMDR processing to help lower sensitivity and reactivity to eating patterns that have yet to arise.
We’ve lost our connection between our emotions and our body. For example, if you eat a snack and are not satisfied, then it’s because you’re trying to use food to fulfill an emotional need.
The emotional drive for over-eating can be very, very strong. In order to be our ‘natural’ size we have to learn to manage and regulate our emotional states.
The Presence Process
A lot of eating, whether it’s eating too little or too much is based on the unconscious need to numb unresolved and unintegrated emotional imprinting. Emotional imprinting that was acquired in childhood and continues to be unresolved drives all of the ‘drama’ in our lives – to include overeating. These eating patterns become structured in the brain and are ‘projected’ into our lives creating most of our experiences. At this level, even the body is a projection.
What to do Different
Get Serious About What You Eat
Avoid Processed Foods – Processed foods don’t have any ‘life’ in them. I’ve been hearing for years that eating ‘processed foods’ was not good for you but I never really understood what that was about. First of all, processed foods are any foods that have come from a factory, or from a box. Unless your diet consists mostly of fruit and vegetables, healthy fat and lean protein, then you are probably eating a diet of processed foods. Processed foods will keep the body alive, for years, but that doesn’t mean it is good for you.
The dangers of eating processed foods:
Processed foods do not have any micro-nutrients, which according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman are essential.
Remember, adding healthy and nurturing foods to a bad diet is not enough.
Stop, Drop and Roll
When going for a snack:
Stop – and breathe
Drop – into the body
Roll – with the feelings
Give yourself the time and the opportunity to stay securely attached to each moment.
Strategies for Intuitive Eating:
- Shift your focus from being about “losing weight” to being aware of your felt sense (hunger-fullness scale).
- Tune into the body to decide what to eat and how much.
- Eat ‘healthy’ fats.
- Feel the way clothes fit as opposed to weighing
- Love your body just the way it is
Be open to the possibility that stress is a factor.
Stress can be “historical”, which means it comes from childhood but when it is triggered it is re-experienced in the moment. The fact that it is an emotional memory that is surfacing is not realized and it is usually avoided or ignored. It can be triggered by a thought or another feeling (internal) or by an experience (external).
Stress can be related to what is happening in the experience in the moment. Stress can accumulate over time and, essentially, build up in the body. Notice if that is happening.
Let your ability to notice and allow thoughts and feelings be how you remember to do that.
Types and amounts of foods
- Eat fruits and vegetables
- Healthy fats ~ the equivalent of 16 tables of peanut butter a day…
Make snacks a little meal. Make a portion and watch it disappear as you eat it.