LighterLife psychotherapist Mandy Cassidy explains: ‘Eating is essential for survival. Ever since we were at our mother’s breast, we’ve needed food for sustenance and to keep us alive. But as we grow older, what we eat is often about much more than providing fuel for our bodies. And this is OK – and perfectly natural.
‘However, problems can arise as we grow older if we find ourselves eating time and again in an attempt to fill a void or deal with complex emotions, often linked to our childhoods.’
There are a number of ways that our relationship with food are linked to our past. One of the most common links can be illustrated by the idea of ego states – Parent, Adult, Child.
Four steps to success
In order to break this cycle, there are four key steps you’ll need to take on board.
Turn it off
Turn off the Parent voice and the unhelpful messages. Think about what you really want. Don’t just react to your environment.
Find other ways
If you’re nostalgic for the past, try other ways to recreate the positive feeling of childhood that don’t involve food – such as look at an old family album or wrap yourself in a cosy blanket.
Avoid using words like ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘naughty’, ‘treat’ and ‘cheat’ – these reinforce the Parent ego state, and can be unhelpful.
Likewise, get out of the habit of throwing caution to the wind and mentality of ‘I’ve had one chocolate, I’ve already given in, I may as well eat half the box’. This is the Rebellious Child at play.
Our memories can be a powerful thing – a yearning for the good old days when our lives were simpler. But when it comes to food, the powerful link between what we ate and how we ate as children, and our eating behaviours as adults can have a destructive effect – especially if we’re prone to overeating. Instead of happiness, it can lead to a cycle of misery.
So, next time you’re feeling low, bored or depressed, before you reach for the fridge, pause and think ‘what am I really hungry for?’ This is the first step to achieving a healthier relationship with food.
Find out how LighterLife can help you address your relationship with food and lose weight for good at www.lighterlife.com or by calling 0800 2 988 988.