Emotional eating can show up as rebelling against the changes you want to make. When we try to make changes we use food to sabotage ourselves. We use food to have a sense of control or to not feel certain emotions like anger or feeling powerless. When this happens it derails our efforts and goals.
Personally, when I was dieting and even just trying to make healthier changes there was a part of me that completely rebelled and it was hard to be consistent with what I was doing. This was my breaking point and I swung to the other extreme and completely gave up. THe rebellious part of me took over but I didn’t feel good at that extremity as well.
I needed to find a balance.
A client of mine has also been experiencing this. She’s noticed every time she has tried to create change she hears 2 voices.
Voice #1 says “ I should eat this way, I should do this”
Voice #2 says “No, I don’t want to eat that. I don’t care that it is healthy, etc”
So, it’s like 2 parts of her are in battle. They are against each other. So, think about this, when we try to make changes we usually say I “need” to do this and the other part of you is resisting saying “No, I don’t want to do it. I don’t care if this is good for me or not”.
This has been the struggle my client is facing. What’s missing here is that there’s no communication between these parts.
The old way…
The old way of making changes is “I’m moving forward, I’m making changes. I don’t care about my resistance. Who cares” and we push aside any resistance and bulldoze.
If we were to externalize the 2 parts of us and make them into people it would look like 2 people standing there having an argument. The part saying “we should do it” is more like an authority or adult and the other part that’s saying “why are you trying to control me” is more child like.
It’s almost like we have a parent and child inside of us. Maybe the dynamic is like our parents and us as a child or some version of that in a battle!
This would have happened in environments where parents didn’t care about your needs, wants or what was best for you. Perhaps they didn’t include you in any decision making. Maybe they just thought they knew what was best for you. Maybe they demanded things of us or demanded us to do things.
So, when we demand ourselves to make a change it triggers in us that part of us that felt powerless or angry (or any other emotion) that wants to rebel.
What can we do instead?
Now we can see we have 2 parts of us in a battle. What can we do instead of dominating and bulldozing a part of us?
Because bulldozing doesn’t work. The part we bulldoze and push under the surface grows stronger, then takes over and sabotages us. It does what it wants (so eat what it wants, etc) and then we feel we have to start again or what’s the point of even trying to make changes when we can’t seem to sustain them.
What I would like to suggest…
With clients I do a somatic meditation that goes into parts work. This gets at the root of the issues and integrates it on a body and mind level. It’s not just talking about it on the surface like in talk therapy. There is a physical integration and resolution.
When we access these 2 parts in the somatic meditation one of the goals is to find out about the parts and their purpose. These parts are usually trying to do something good for you but it can come out in a strange way.
For example the part trying to sabotage your changes it trying to maintain your autonomy and your power (in this example). The other part is trying to look out for your health and wellbeing.
They are both “trying” to do something good for you but they are in conflict.
So in meditation we are going to listen to them, have empathy and compassion because they are trying to do something good. They are not against you even if it appears that way.
The more empathy and compassion we have for these parts the more they “soften”. It’s similar to being in conflict with someone else and then you begin to let your guard down and hear and understand the other person. Here we can find a 3rd option that’s win-win. This is how we create alignment and integration with these parts that have been in battle. This creates a deep resolution.
You will feel this resolution in your body because it will go for being tense to relaxing more.
-We get in touch with 2 parts of us
-We deeply listen, empathize with them and release any emotions
-As they soften they can start hearing the other’s perspective and come p with a new way of being that is beneficial to the whole of you
This is where true change comes in and it becomes sustainable because we are resolving it at the root. So when we have this resolution is is much easier to move forward because all parts of us are moving in the same direction. We are in alignment with the new option we created.
This is in contrast to one part wanting to do THIS and another wanting to do THAT and creating a battle internally.
I’ve used this process on myself and with clients. This is how I have moved forward. The more I am able to meet the true needs of these parts the better able I am to move forward easily.
So for the part that is rebelling, angry or sabotaging it is wanting to create a boundary, have power and autonomy. It may need to see that it can’t gain that through food but perhaps speaking up for itself instead.
The other part wanting to make healthy changes may need to be less militant and more loving and compassionate with its language towards the rebelling part.
With these changes the parts can start hearing each other and seeing eye to eye.
I hope this example explained what an internal struggle might look like when you use food to cope or rebel. It’s like you have 2 separate people inside of you having a fight and you need to resolve it in order to have forward movement.
If you have any questions let me know! Also if you need guidance please reach out 🙂
Certified Holistic Nutritionist + Emotional Eating Expert