In the last blog, I talked about how food often represents something besides just food. We’re not always aware of this. For example, people may say “I love food.” But is it really food that they love or that food represents someone in their lives who was loving and may have cooked that particular food. For me, my grandmother represented love in my life as a child. She just happened to be a “home economics” major in college and an excellent cook. Certain foods evoke a memory of my grandmother and when I am faced with these foods, I feel like I’m 7 years old, sitting at the formica table in my grandma’s kitchen. I can see her standing at the stove with an apron on, her hair tied up in a knot. I can imaging the softness of her hand as she hands me the strawberry shortcake. And I feel at home and loved. All that from a piece of strawberry shortcake.
There’s nothing wrong with this! What is problematic is when we don’t recognize that the food we “love” is about a memory. So we convince ourselves that we just love mac and cheese and therefore have to over eat it. When in fact, what we may be hungry for is not mac and cheese but that feeling of being loved.
So how do you deal with the feelings that are associated with food?
Try using your coping strategies you already have, applying them to your eating.
If you have been successful in any area of
your life, you can apply the same strategies you’ve used in that area to dealing with your weight.
Perhaps you have been very successful in your job, or you have overcome obstacles in your life.
You may have survived tough times in your marriage or had to help your aging parents. Maybe
you are highly analytical or a good problem solver. Even if you haven’t applied those skills to
your weight problem, you may ?nd them useful. If you have overcome an obstacle in one area of
your life, you can use those skills in other areas. Use the exercise below to identify your strengths.
Make a list of strengths you have or strategies you have used to overcome obstacles in your life:
Now that you’ve identi?ed your strengths and coping skills, imagine how these could be useful
to you in achieving a healthy weight. (Example: I could use my analytical skills to track my food
intake on an Excel spreadsheet, which would be more interesting than writing it out by hand.
(Example: I’m very competitive, so my friend and I are going to engage in friendly competition to motivate
us to exercise.)