Food should not control you. You should be able to eat whenever you like and stop whenever you want. Food should not take up a significant amount of headspace or time on your calendar. Do you you need to heal your relationship with food?
Heal your inner child, heal your relationship with food
What you just ate should not have the power to make you feel ashamed, guilty, or like a bad person.
Food also should not be a coping mechanism. You shouldn’t ever feel like you don’t know how you would cope with a certain food.
You shouldn’t feel out of control or powerless around food.
If you experience any of these feelings, your relationship with food needs some attention. To get to the root of the problem so healing can begin, grab a pen and some paper. I’m going to walk you through a valuable exercise. Don’t rush through this. I promise if you open your mind and look for answers you will find them. Let’s get started.
Think back to your childhood. Let’s say from birth to whenever you moved out of the home. Got it?
Now, make a list of the tragic events or trauma that you suffered. These things should come pretty quickly. They are the things you may not want to think about. Then things that changed your life. The things you went to counseling for.
When you are ready to move on, add to that list any significant events that you feel impacted you at the time.
These can be things like moving to a new city, the death of a family pet, or your older sibling constantly fighting with your parents. They can one-time events (like a house fire) or ongoing events (like having an overcontrolling parent.) When in doubt if it should go on the list, put it down.
Next, ask yourself what needs you may have had as a child that did not get met.
Was your opinion heard and valued?
Were your parents emotionally available to you?
Did you feel loved? Protected?
Spend some time here. It helps to close your eyes and picture yourself at that age. See yourself in your childhood home. See yourself at your elementary school.
Were you happy? Scared? Confident? Fearful? Shy?
Ask why. What made you that way?
Now that we have our list we move on to phase 2 in this process.
Consider how you coped with these things. How did you compensate?
For example, maybe you had a dad who traveled all the time for work and you only saw him on weekends. This made you feel sad and disconnected from your father and you wondered if he loved you since he spent so much time away. The way you coped was to seek his attention and acceptance by trying to be perfect. You thought awards and accolades would please him and make him love you more.
Your inner child had feelings and they coped with those feelings in some way. What was it for you?
The last step is to think about food. Was food part of how you coped? Kids use food to comfort themselves. They use it to gain control when they feel their lives are out of control. They use it to rebel against parents. They use it to distract themselves from painful emotions. In these cases, it’s about the food.
Sometimes food is just a vessel to make themselves overweight. Why would a child want to be overweight? Great question! It always meets a need.
They may want to be able to defend themselves against an abusive parent or a bully at school.
They may want to use their weight to build walls that will keep people away from them.
They may use their weight as an excuse that allows them to set low expectations.
This may be the only way they get attention from their parents.
Take some time and think about when you started using food. What was going on in your life? How did the food make it better?
This is inner child work. If you want to heal your relationship with food the exercise I just walked you through is a great start. Go through these questions with some compassion for your inner child. Children do what they need to do to survive with the resources they have. Since our resources both physically and mentally are lacking when we are young, it’s no wonder so many of us turn to food to help us cope.
Ready to work on healing your inner child and heal your relationship with food?
This is the heart of what I do with my clients. To work with me simply shoot me an email and I’ll be in touch. Not ready? Check out my YouTube channel for more helpful info.