A short while ago I decided to do a 120 day blood cleanse, during which I would not eat any sugar. The process really made me examine my relationship with food – and subsequently my relationship with myself! Some of you may be aware that when I was 13, I went anorexic – and have had a very tricky relationship with food – and my body – ever since. Part of the reason for doing this blood cleanse was to heal the damage the anorexia had caused to my digestive tract. Messing around with my eating habits at such a crucial stage in my development had left me with a very weak digestive system – and food intolerances here, there & everywhere. The other part was to get over my addiction to sugar.
Over the course of the last couple of months, I have realised that my addiction to sugar was just the tip of the iceberg. It’s not just sugar I’m addicted to – it’s food in general. But it’s a funny, perverted addiction…I will turn to food as a form of comfort and eat to make myself feel better if I’m feeling low because of an external factor, but then I will as readily purposely abstain from food if I feel I have been over-indulging too much. No doubt, this yo-yo eating pattern has done nothing good for my poor digestive tract. But more importantly, it has shown me that in some way, the shadow of the anorexia still lingers. It’s an insidious and dark condition. I remember being a stick-thin teen, but looking in the mirror and seeing a fat girl. That distorted body image stayed with me until my late twenties. I now see my body for what it is when I look in the mirror (at last), but the fact that I still ‘play’ so drastically with my eating habits does seem to hint to me that the condition is still present in my psyche.
Addicts turn to their addictions for comfort, but then wind up hating themselves for having indulged. I’m no different with food. I will over-indulge, then I’ll feel thoroughly disgruntled with myself for being ‘weak’…”why the hell did I just eat that entire 200g bag of cashews?! Why couldn’t I just have a handful and put the rest of them away?!” Why indeed…I’ve been delving deeper into this…and the conclusion I’ve come to is that it’s a form of self-loathing – an inability to accept a certain aspect, or aspects of ourselves – and an inability to accept certain emotional states. It’s a lack of acceptance. I’ve recently been faced with a situation that has brought up aspects of myself and emotional states that I least like – and struggle to accept. What has this resulted in? Me turning to food to comfort myself – and distract myself from being in that emotional state – and then being dissatisfied with myself for succumbing to my addiction, resulting in yet more self loathing. A pattern is occurring here – a very destructive pattern. I’m sure part of the reason I can’t say no to food is because I literally starved myself as a developing teenager – so whenever food is around, my unconscious mind is telling me to eat it all, because it thinks I may not eat again for days. What a dichotomy!
But how to break this habit? These habits? How to make peace with those parts of my self I find the most unacceptable, those emotional states I find the most uncomfortable? Just be present with it – sit with that part of you, that emotion, without trying to analyse it, without judging it – and without judging yourself – literally, meditate on it. Sit yourself down – and just be with it – watch it – and then watch it disappear. It’s incredible how quickly it dissolves. Yes, you may have to do this over and over again, several times a day even, but over time, the pangs lessen – the grip of the addiction loosens – and acceptance slowly starts to seep in. In the many, many spiritual texts that I’ve read, they all say one thing – that it is our journey as humans to ‘find ourselves’. I think I’m actually finally beginning to understand what this means – it’s about getting to know every single aspect of ourselves – and completely accepting – and loving – each and every part. Yes sure, there is still a 13 year old Liz inside me who is terrified of being the ‘fat girl’ – and yes, there is a part of me that’s absolutely petrified of the unknown. Sure, there’s the angry, resentful wrathful woman too…but rather than battle with these aspects of myself, hating them & wishing they weren’t there, I will now give myself time to sit with them, to be present with them – and learn to accept them as part of who I am. And they’re all ok.