The holidays are a time of joy and celebration. They are a time for us to give, to be inspired, and to be thankful for all we have. To that end, most of us view the holidays with tremendous fondness. However, even for those of us who love and look forward to the holiday season, it can still present challenges. It always seems that there is too much to do and too little time. We juggle our over-packed schedules, trying to find time for all of the family gatherings, work functions, events for the kids. We travel through crowded airports, or make our homes available to travel-weary family members from out of town. We stress out about buying the perfect gifts for our family and friends, not wanting to disappoint while also trying to manage a budget. And then…there is the food!!! Most of us can’t think about the holiday season without also visualizing an endless line of cookies, pies, fruitcake, and on and on. The combination of holidays and food might not be a trigger for some, but for a wide population, food-related stress, anxiety or guilt can be as synonymous with the holidays as all of the wonderful and positive memories of the season.
If you’ve ever used food to soothe emotion, you’re in good company. Food does work (temporarily) at easing an emotional hurt or pain. Dopamine (a feel-good chemical) gets released in the brain when eating certain foods, providing you with a very real emotional relief. Unfortunately, if you are eating when your body is not hungry (or restricting when your body is indeed hungry), that good feeling may be very short lived (ex. guilt, shame, physical discomfort).
I work with women of all shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds. Some women have been “overweight” their entire lives. Other have gone through considerable (and in some cases perpetual) fluctuations in their size. And others have been, by any objective measurement, “thin” or “fit” for all or most of their lives. So, obviously, these different types of women all have dramatically different “issues” when it comes to food, fitness, and body image, right? Well, maybe that is not necessarily the case.
How many of you out there exercise because of the joy it brings you? Conversely, how many of you out there exercise out of obligation, guilt, or dispassionate routine? For many of you visiting my blog, I’d guess that you fall into the latter group (i.e. you exercise, not necessarily because you enjoy it, but because you feel obligated to do so for some desired result). Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to exercise because you want to feel and look good. But when exercise becomes part of a tired obligation, or worse, when it becomes a guilt-driven obsession, that is when it might be time to step back and ask yourself, “Why isn’t this fun anymore?”
I am so excited to announce that I am now a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor! This makes me one of only seven counselors holding Intuitive Eating Certification in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area (and the only Certified Intuitive Eating counselor practicing in Vancouver).
Sometimes it may be difficult to explain, especially to those who have never themselves experienced an eating disorder. Your family and friends try to empathize and provide support, but it can be challenging for them to fully understand what you are going through, or the best way for them to lend support. I came across this wonderful resource and support page and thought I would share it.
When I first read the book Intuitive Eating, it really spoke to me and my relationship with food. I thought to myself, of course this is how we should approach our relationship with food. Forget the rules, restrictions, and control. I wondered why I let so much of my life be consumed with dieting, and seemingly endless efforts to manipulate my body. But the truth is, as simple and straightforward as the basic concepts of intuitive eating my sound, applying them to your real life may still be challenging.