Emotional Eating

While loading the dishwasher yesterday, I turned on the TV to see Valerie Bertinelli on the Today Show. I love Valerie. She was part of my childhood. Who here grew up with One Day at a Time? I paused to listen to what she had to say.

She talked openly about her struggle with emotional eating. I felt for her.

In my morning’s meditation today, Valerie’s issue resurfaced in my awareness. The energy of the suffering danced around my mind: emotional eating was one dance partner, the other was control.

We satiate our emotions, especially the painful ones, with food. But it’s also the fact that food is the one area we may feel able to control in our lives. Not in a will power sort of way, but in a “I can eat what I want” way.

For over a decade I used strength training as my food. The weight room floor was the one place I could control the outcome. I write about it in An Accidental Awakening. No boss or landlord, husband or family dynamic dictated my performance. In the isolation afforded by my headphones, I pushed my body to comply with my demands.

Stuffing food, stuffing emotions, encasing them in an armour of fat or muscle: holding tight to what little we can control.

These partners continued to dance as my meditation unfolded the music.

Let go of the need to control. Anyone or anything.

After my low back injury, I could no longer go to the gym for my hit of control. I found healing and a new emotional outlet through yoga. Once my cervical spine no longer afforded me that practice (it was as if the Universe was pushing me to stop pushing emotions elsewhere), I had to feel all of the itchiness of my uncomfortable emotions, and I began focusing my control on my children, my work, and my husband.

I joke about my dark chocolate needs, but truth be told, I ate it occasionally when I used to work out, more so after my first spinal injury, and once the second injury hit, my dark chocolate consumption went through the roof.

Control and emotional eating. Dancing together.

How do we let go? How do we let life (and emotions) flow?

For me, it’s a practice. As with most things, I go to nature. And I journal. I write the emotions on the page: where I feel them, how I feel them. I give them a voice. I know them as not me but through me. I include these journaling exercises in Householder Yogini, which I wrote after enjoying retreat with Lama Tsultrim Allione in Cape Breton in 2018. During the weekend retreat, we learned a powerful practice to transform emotions. After 90 days of practice, Householder Yogini wrote through me.

Through journaling, I now tell the story of my emotions. And I recognize where their story tries to tell me. Not always, but more often now. I see where old story has me spinning. I write it down and let it breathe on the page. It may revisit. And I’ll sit with it, maybe cry with it or yell with it. And I’ll write it all again.

I admire their dance. I appreciate their movement. I witness their existence.

I write the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ so as to know them equally as energy. One no more controlling than the other.

And I send Valerie my love. As I know more and more that is what is needed at this time.

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