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I am happy to say that I have always enjoyed eating!  Food is a natural pleasure in life, and one that is available to most of us several times per day.  It is one of life's precious gifts.  However, for many of us, the joyful aspect of eating, can become tainted.  

My difficulties with eating started as a child.  I can't remember exactly when, but I was probably around nine years old.  Although I had a loving, caring mother, my father had a temper, and I was afraid of him.  It didn't seem safe to relax at home - maybe I would do something wrong to trigger an outburst from him.  I stopped talking as much.  I shut down.  I went into protection mode. I lived with a lot of tension.  My focus was on trying to avoid being told off or getting hit.  I carried this fear of doing something wrong into school.  I was a diligent pupil, but I didn't feel at ease with the other children.  I went from being a playful child who would happily dance crazily to jazz in front of guests(!) to one who felt trapped.  Rightly or wrongly, I had drawn the conclusion that relaxing and being myself around other people was too risky.

To ease all the tension I was feeling, I turned to food.  Food helped to calm me down, and soothe my nervous energy.  As soon as I got home from school, and the pressure of trying to protect myself all day from perceived 'threats', I rushed to eat large quantities of cereal, or whatever I could find in the cupboard.  There was a real sense of urgency about this eating.  I was desperate for relief from the tension I was feeling.  Although I would go on to see myself as having eating 'problems', in truth, eating for me was actually a solution to the tension I felt.  It gave me pleasure and helped me relax when the rest of my life often felt painful and overwhelming.  It thus became a coping mechanism to deal with my inner suffering.

If you are bingeing or overeating, please know there is a method to the apparent madness!  You are not greedy or lazy or weak-willed.  You are doing the best you can to take care of yourself.  Eating can be very soothing, and if we are experiencing stress on an ongoing basis, something's got to give.  We are not designed to live with chronic stress.  

The good news is that using food as a coping mechanism is not a part of your identity, and a healthy relationship with eating can be restored, as we find a place of safety within ourselves.  This healing journey is beautiful.  And I'm so grateful for the opportunities it's given me to have a richer, more fulfilling experience of life.  I believe everyone can experience this healing, regardless of how long or how severely they've struggled in this area.  


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