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27

Jul

Emotional Eating – Integrative Nutrition Graduation


I stumbled upon this image today. It seems fitting on this Monday after graduating from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) yesterday. I think this is a feeling that we have all experienced, though it is not always so clearly understood. Sometimes we don’t recognize it as the absence of another and eat whatever is closest. Sometimes we recognize the loneliness and eat through it regardless, desperate for anything to make us feel full. I think at one time or another we all eat our way through a lack of love in our life. The key is not to punish ourselves, to swear up and down that it will never happen again and then to beat ourselves up when it does. I tend to think that awareness is curative. When it is allowed in on a deep enough level awareness in and of itself manifests change. Simply bringing our awareness to the many ways in which the way that we feel affects the way that we eat and the reciprocal ways that the things that we eat affect the way that we feel is a bold step towards a healthier and happier existence.

Being a holistic health counselor trained at IIN guarantees that one is bringing their awareness to these and many other ways in which food is an integral part of the complex web of our lives. Our relationships, our careers, exercise, spirituality, our environment, society, all of these things must be taken into account if we are to truly understand our cravings and how they can be sated. Rather than being a complication of the already hard to comprehend nutritional theories that we are bombarded with, I think that most who embrace these ideas experience a simplification. There is an immense freedom to be gained by jettisoning the usual confines of yo-yo weight loss and gain that accompanies other, less comprehensive and more prescriptive approaches to health. Once we take into account the many factors that are both in and out of our control we begin to see that it is not massive feats of will and grueling dedication that allows our health to flourish. It is not about attempting to fit our body into a particular mold, or eating within the confines of a particular diet that works for someone else. It is about addressing the situation with an embrace that is open enough to allow for all of the many factors that impact our sense of hunger and emptiness as well as recognizing the many, many ways that we can be full-filled.

“Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone, it’s not warm when she’s away”

A deep breath leaves me feeling centered and grounded. Social awkwardness can leave me cold and jittery. A hug brings warmth and gratefulness into my heart. A paycheck can be empowering, a bill in the mail deflating. I could achieve all of the emotions above and so many more through food or it’s absensce. Sometimes, when I don’t recognize the emotions that my body is generating for what they are, I can confuse them with hunger and either deny myself or indulge in food as a means to try and control the situation. Times when I can simply pause and recognize what my body/mind/spirit are saying are the times when I can honor these emotions and choose to nurture myself appropriately. Of course, sometimes I’m just really fucking hungry.

I feel blessed to have studied with all of the amazing people in this program and am truly excited to now be sharing these tools with clients. If you are reading this I would love to work with you. If you are ready to feel powerful in your choices and are excited about the possibility of listening to and trusting what your body is saying to you than my program is aimed at you. It does not matter where you are at now (not even geographically, I am in NYC, but so far most of my clients I work with over the phone). Please check out my website and reach out for a free health history consultation. If you recognize that there is room for growth in your life, if you want to send increasing amounts of light into the areas of your life that have been in shadow too long, than let me offer the possibility that working with a health counselor is exactly the type of support that will empower you to live the life that you are capable of, but may have been denying yourself.

  1. Amy

    I’ve read through this post a few times, and each time something different hits me. This time it was this:

    “Sometimes, when I don’t recognize the emotions that my body is generating for what they are, I can confuse them with hunger and either deny myself or indulge in food as a means to try and control the situation. Times when I can simply pause and recognize what my body/mind/spirit are saying are the times when I can honor these emotions and choose to nurture myself appropriately.”

    I’ve felt very empowered through this type of awareness. I used to have a neurotic cycle of feeling hungry, thinking I shouldn’t be hungry, feeling guilty, and getting myself all worked up. Now I often just stop and take a breath and take stock of what’s going on. Then I can address whether I need food or some other type of nutrition (like a hug, a chat with a friend, etc.).

  2. I have read this post over and over again, as I have lost so much of my intuitive ability to know if I am hungry, lonely, sad or otherwise. Being caught in an eating disorder has left me totally unaware of my own body! It is so humbling to have to recognize that what comes to other people more naturally should be such a mystery to me.

    However, I have the good fortune to have help and am regaining an awareness my emotional needs, which are so much more important than my nutritional needs. I’ve realized, there will always be another meal, but there may never be another chance to grieve with a friend over ice cream, skip dinner to go on a date with someone, or just sit quietly and look at a full moon. Taking a deep, belly breath and learning to let go of food as a means of control, is so eye-opening and freeing.

    But such a long process – I’ve only just begun to learn to listen to my emotional and physical self again after a year of working on recovery.