The yearning to find peace with food is usually a palpable one. When women speak about their motivation to stop struggling with food, find a weight that works for them, stop bingeing, and feel healthy and fit, the energy is usually intense. When you struggle with food, the wish to find peace-permanent peace-usually runs pretty deep.
No more diets. Pants that always fit. Feeling confident that your weight is going to be about the same as it was last week or last month or even last year. Peace with food means that food, weight, or your diet is not the first thing you think about when you wake up or before you go to bed. Peace with food means that sometimes the chips go stale and the leftover candy gets forgotten in the back of the cupboard.
Because the food is no longer that important.
Peace with food is definitely possible. But in order to get there, you have to go beyond the food. And in order to do that, many women need to come face to face with something much bigger.
In order to make peace with food, you must make peace with your life.
Many women say they want peace with food and an end to yo-yo dieting. They say they’d do just about anything to achieve it. But the truth is, many women are trying to stop overeating without changing anything else.
It doesn’t work.
“I am lonely and I can’t do anything about it-so I eat.”
“I don’t have time to eat lunch and then I come home and binge.”
“I’m dealing with people who are angry and unreasonable. How do I make that okay?”
“I need someone to hold me accountable.”
“I’m busy from the time I wake up until I go to bed. There is no time for me. Food is my comfort. How am I supposed to stop eating?”
Peace with food isn’t really about food. Oh, on one level it is. It’s about feeling in control and effective and able to make choices that are in your best interest. It means (usually) not choosing foods or portions that leave you feeling uncomfortable or sick afterwards. It’s about you (not what’s on the plate) having the power and the control. But I hope you can see that I’m talking about so much more than food here.
Food only loses its power when we own our own power and stop using food as a band aid. Too often, food is the quick fix for things that we are not willing (or are too fearful) to address directly.
No food plan in the world is going to help the women above with their loneliness, their unwillingness to take time for themselves, their struggles with assertiveness, and their ability to ask for help. These are really gnarly difficult parts of life to wrestle with. Honestly, fighting with the chocolate chip cookies (and even feeling guilty when you lose), can feel a lot less daunting. It’s easier (in the short run) to stay on the diet roller coaster than it is to make peace with food.
Peace with food requires making peace with your life. And sometimes that means creating a life that you can feel peaceful with. Learning to say no. Addressing the difficult relationships. Finding ways to take good care of yourself and sometimes putting yourself first. It means addressing the places that may feel scary: loneliness, fear, worry-even boredom. Taking risks that you might have been putting off taking for years. It’s hard stuff to swallow, but the payoffs can be huge. Creating peace with food really does have the potential to transform your life.
And before you get too overwhelmed, please remember that there are real tools (that work much better than diets) to help you do all these things. All of these challenges get more manageable and less terrifying when you find someone to help you through them-and when you take them on in small, palatable bites.
So imagine again that your pants always fit and your weight stays where you want it to. That you don’t diet and you don’t binge and you generally make good choices. And this time understand that it happens because you’ve looked the loneliness in the eye and gotten the help that you need to change it. You’ve learned to stand tall and speak up on your own behalf. You aren’t ending the day feeling exhausted and used up and like you don’t have the energy to do more than open the ice cream.
You’ve rebalanced your life. You’ve done the hard work. You’ve unleashed your inner champion. That’s what it takes to make peace with food.