I grew up as a “fat girl” and I hated every minute of it. But I loved food. I loved to cook it, serve it to others, and eat it. Anything having to do with food, you could count me in.
Being fat was miserable for me. I would scrunch up the roll of fat on my tummy in both of my hands and imagine slicing it off; I considered joining the Army when I got old enough because I’d be forced to exercise at boot camp. I even fantasized about getting some disease that would enable me to automatically lose weight.
I had all these drastic, desperate thoughts because I was out of control with food.
No weight-loss attempt worked. I tried exercise programs, crazy diets, diet pills, 12-step programs, self-help books, and even therapy. Nothing worked.
By age 20 I was 50 pounds overweight. My weight constantly yo-yoed between 20 to 40 extra pounds. I knew I couldn’t spend the rest of my life going up and down the scale as I had already done several times.
But I didn’t know where to turn.
Then, one day I was at an overeaters meeting and there was a woman who had been obese, lost the weight, and then started bingeing again. In an effort to control her weight she became bulimic. Her bulimia took on a life of its own, and she could not stop.
One day, she was sharing with the group that she had not binged and purged for two weeks. She said the desire had been lifted. I noticed that she was drastically different; she didn’t even sound the same. She was confident, poised, and very clear when she spoke. A few days later I saw another woman who had the same kind of transformational experience. I asked her what she was doing. Turns out both of them had received help from Roy Nelson, a spiritual healer I knew who helps people overcome their addictions.
I asked Roy for help and my life began to change. I no longer was compelled to destroy myself with food. I was able to live in a thin body without struggling with food or my weight. My self-confidence and self-esteem blossomed, and I was able to become the person God meant for me to be.
I was so touched by what happened for me and what I witnessed happening for others that I joined Roy in helping others heal. We’ve been working together to help others for decades. Eight years ago, Roy also became my husband.
Emotional eating and food addiction is probably the hardest addiction to overcome because you have to eat three times a day. With alcohol and drugs, you can walk away and never have to touch it again. But with food, you have to take that fiery dragon out of the cage three times a day and then try to put it back in!
Most people attempt to lose weight by trying to control their food consumption or by attempting to increase their physical activity. But if someone is an emotional eater, both of those methods usually fail.
People sabotage their diets when their emotions take over and they cave in to food cravings. Those cravings are a symptom of underlying causes; when the deeper causes are faced and healed, the cravings are automatically lifted.
Emotional eating isn’t as simple as just eating one’s emotions. In the past 30 years of researching emotional eating and helping people heal, I have identified what I now call the Anatomy of the Emotional Eater, a composite of personality traits that create much of the inner turmoil and stress that the emotional eater turns to food to anesthetize.
For example, one of the most common traits among emotional eaters is people-pleasing. Those who struggle chronically with food and weight are typically caught in a trap of taking on too many projects and doing too many favors in an effort to please others.
What happens when we take on too much, hoping for recognition (consciously or unconsciously), is that we end up stressed out and exhausted. When we don’t get the recognition we expected, when people aren’t as pleased or appreciative as we’d planned, then we become resentful.
So what do we do? You guessed it! We go home and indulge in a little “I-deserve-it” binge. We reward ourselves with our favorite foods and eat “at” people who don’t give us the credit we feel we deserve.
I developed Heal Your Hunger, a seven-step process for ending emotional eating, because I wanted to help people love their food, their body, and their lives, without succumbing to crazy diets or impossible exercise programs.
These seven steps lead a person to a deeper connection with Spirit. When we feel connected with God and with our fellow travelers, we no longer feel alone, different, and afraid. When our hearts are filled, we are no longer isolated on this path of life and our craving for excess food falls away.
Daily Word has always been an inspiration to me on my own spiritual journey. I always suggest people make it a part of their daily self-care practice, and I often share the number for Silent Unity when someone is in need of added spiritual support.
My struggles with food and weight, and the incredible freedom I have found, drive my mission to help others overcome emotional eating. Every day I wake up grateful for the opportunity to share my story, take other emotional eaters by the hand, and walk with them on this path of healing. There is nothing sweeter than that.