Who’s really at the table when you’re eating? Is it the adolescent you? The teenage you? The rebel? I find that one of the most overlooked aspects of eating is knowing who is in charge at meal time, yet undeniably there’s more than one identity involved and determining who they are and what drives them can help dissect your eating behaviors.

As a kid, I had carte blanche with food. There were some limitations, but very few, and whenever I was upset, crying or sad, I got food to make me feel better. Cookies, candies and cakes were always top of the list, but almost any food would do and I learned that as long as I was eating, I wasn’t focused on how I really felt.

It became very clear to me one day that this was a pattern I carried with me into adulthood. After an incredibly trying day, my spirits were down, so I decided to go shopping. Food shopping that is. While browsing the aisles, making my selections, I found a package of chocolate-covered caramel pretzels, and I stuck them in my basket.

Almost as soon as I did, I had an immediate flashback and I instantly made the connection that when I felt that same way as a child, I was soothed with something sweet to snap me out of it. When I realized it, I was shocked and yet it was so obvious. I had never noticed this pattern with food before until that moment.

There was no denying it though. I wanted to feel better, and one of the ways I learned to pacify myself was with food. Rather than feel the feelings, I focused on food instead and forced the feelings I wanted to avoid down into my body. Into my organs, my tissues, and ultimately my fat.

So often, it’s not what we eat but why we eat that fuels our need for food. The little girl in me was in dire need of comfort in that moment, and so I turned to food which was a behavior I developed as a young child. I was so oblivious to it too that it never crossed my mind before that I wasn’t really hungry for food a lot of the time but rather attention, caressing, and love to assure me that everything would be ok.

But when no one’s around to do it, food‘s always there, ready and willing.

Other times, if I’m angry, I might eat out of rebellion, as in, “I can have whatever I want and you can’t stop me.” Or when I feel deprived, I binge eat as I did when I was a teen, enduring the pressure of being thin yet longing for foods I love.

The awareness I now have with my multiple personality disorder around eating helps me make wiser choices with food so that my eating is less chaotic and isn’t a vain attempt to fill an emotional void, one food can never fill.

I also look to use non-food sources of nourishment to feed my hunger too, such as reading, writing, or walking.

Weight loss doesn’t happen in an instant. You didn’t gain weight overnight and you won’t lose it overnight either, and the true breakthroughs come in the most unexpected ways, when you’re not really expecting them at all.

When I opened myself up to approaching weight loss in a way I never had before, which was more about slowing down, breathing, and just being ok with it, where I was, not always focused on where I wanted to be, and not focused on numbers or scales, a refreshing way of reconnecting to my body was revealed.

And there was no going back, because my body began to resist every attempt I made to push myself, deprive myself, or neglect myself.

I finally got what people meant about the wisdom of your body, which carries so much more wisdom than your head when it comes to what it wants. For years, I ignored it, muddling through diets and workouts that I dreaded, dismissing the fact none of it ever pleased me. I fell in line with the belief that there’s only one way to weight loss, and it required struggle and misery.

What a relief it was to realize I was wrong. Way wrong.

Now when I sit to eat, I ask myself, “Who’s eating?” and whoever shows up takes their rightful place beside me. Although now, the adult me takes over and keeps the kid, rebel, and teen in line when it comes to what I eat so that eating is for eating only, slow, relaxed, and pleasurable.

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