Overeating is definitely comforting. In fact, eating highly processed "Stress Foods" is the easiest way to feel better for humans. So how does it deprive us and make life hard?
In facilitating an EBT 30-Day Intensive, one person said that she ate for comfort. Who can argue with comforting oneself with banana bread, grilled cheese sandwiches, or organic ice cream? When we used the tools to figure out if comfort eating for her was a personal decision or a stress-activated compulsion, it was clear. She said she could not stop, that she was out of control.
As a rewired food addict, I believe in personal freedom in what we eat, and as the founder of EBT, I think in terms of circuits. If the circuit that is driving the overeating is in the top drawers of the brain (lower stress), it's just a habit. If it is in the middle or lower drawers of the brain (higher stress), zapping the wire that triggers it becomes essential. Without that rewiring, three bad things happen. To motivate you to rewire, consider each of them:
Overeating distracts us from meeting our true needs
Imagine yourself finishing off a hard day at work, coming home, and eating a healthy dinner. About an hour later it's "treat time." Our mind turns to those cookies in the kitchen or the ice cream in the freezer. Leftover pasta would work. Why not have some of that? It feels good, but ask yourself, "What do I really need?" It's always one of life's richest rewards: Sanctuary, Authenticity, Vibrancy, Integrity, Intimacy, Spirituality, or Freedom.
In the days when my Food Circuit had not been crushed and transformed, I had to eat a lot of food when I was triggered. I needed three cinnamon rolls, not one, and even when I tried to eat healthy, a slice of cantaloupe would not do. I needed to slice up an entire cantaloupe to do the trick. Even then, because food cannot meet our deeper need, which for me was love, I had an emotional hangover afterwards. It was usually self-doubt or shame. Food had disappointed me, or perhaps, better said, my Food Circuit had told me a lie, that if I had that extra food, I would access the love I needed. Sad, isn't it? I didn't even realize how much food did not work, principally because I was too busy beating myself up or feeling smug for having overeaten.
We address the "problem," not the real cause
I ate enough to make it an issue or a problem. Then, I had more to think about! It was how to solve my food problem. That's a real time waster! Thinking about the problem, bonding with the problem, figuring out how to fix that problem! That further took me away from meeting my deepest needs and accessing all seven of the rewards of a purposeful life.
The joy of learning how to rewire your own brain is that you dig down and find out what the crossed wire is. And always, rewiring a circuit solves all three of these ways that we waste our time and harm ourselves. When I rewired my food circuit, I switched from trying to get my love from food, being disappointed that it didn't work, and then trying to fix myself to something very loving, simple, and effective.
It was (and is): I get my love from connecting to the deepest part of me, discovering the loneliness inside me, processing my emotions, and finding something underneath them, which is LOVE inside me. What is my reward for doing that? SANCTUARY!
The beauty of the emotional brain
How beautiful is the emotional brain? It activates strange desires, disappointments, and confusion until we say, "OK, I know there is a wire here! Let me process that wire and clear it away." Under all those messy emotions a switch flips. We are back home, connected within, and celebrating the beauty of life!
If you are struggling with eating these days, STOP. It's just food. Do a few emotional dances with EBT, come home to yourself, and find that your deepest needs are fully met from within! From that foundation, miracles happen on a daily basis!