Have you ever done an in-depth study of your relationship with chocolate? Neither had I, until I encountered Intuitive Eating. Up until then, chocolate to me was almost a tool. A tool for myriad needs; quick satisfaction, a pick-me-up, an energy boost, stress relief, relief from boredom, company when lonely, escape from loud young children, a hit of pleasure in a mundane day…you name it, chocolate solved it.
Only it didn’t. Can you relate?
Amongst my many go-to coping foods, chocolate probably held pride of place. It was always there. Easy to keep within reach in the cupboard. No preparation or bowls/plates/cutlery required. Quick and convenient. I could go through mountains of it in a very short space of time.
The problem was – and this likely goes for any food that we use as an emotional coping tool -that it did not help me to address the circumstance or feeling that needed to be fixed or resolved, it just distracted me from it for a while and then led to me feeling worse about myself than I had in the first place. Not to mention eating when my body wasn’t actually hungry or in need of physical food, or the money wasted on chocolate that didn’t really serve me.
One of the principles of Intuitive Eating is ‘making peace with food’ and I identified chocolate as one of several foods I needed to make peace with.
I remember the day I decided to REALLY eat chocolate intuitively. I had put it off for literally months, with several hidden fears that I refused to properly confront. Until one day, I just decided to do it. To stop procrastinating. To stop expecting my relationship with food to change without me actively engaging in making change. Realising that by doing nothing, nothing changes. Something is always better than nothing. So, I decided to start with…something.
I was actually nervous. About chocolate. I had palpitations and I had butterflies in my stomach. As I write this I realise it sounds a bit insane, and on one hand it was, but on the other, I had spent years, no, decades of my life using foods like chocolate to cope with everything. It was like my close friend, support and comfort. So as I sat contemplating eating chocolate in a controlled, considered, mindful, intuitive, unrestricted way, it unnerved me. I had thoughts like “Can I do this? Can I eat some chocolate and just feel satisfied and not just want more? Can I feel neutral about chocolate? Can I enjoy it? Will I be able to REALLY taste and experience it? Can I eat it without feeling guilty? Can I eat it slowly and savour it? Can I not panic?”
I allowed myself to see that in light of my past history with food these fears were normal, and I sat with that for a while…it was okay, it was understandable.
I put the chocolate out on a plate and made a place setting at the table. Engaging all my senses, I ate it more slowly than I had ever eaten anything up to that point in my life. I probably spent about 20 minutes eating just a few squares of chocolate.
What did I learn? Well, I still really like chocolate. It tastes good to me. I tasted flavours and textures I was never aware of when I previously ate chocolate in much bigger quantities very quickly. I was surprised that I felt satisfied after just a few squares when I ate it in this way. I actually put the remainder back in the cupboard – almost miraculous given my history with chocolate! I knew it was there and I could have more later if I wanted it.
I feel more comfortable with chocolate now. There is almost always some chocolate in my pantry. What’s different now though, is that I don’t feel like I need to go and stuff my face with it as rapidly as possible. I know how it really tastes, and how it really doesn’t. I know how much tends to satisfy, so I don’t end up eating it in a way where I don’t actually experience it, rather just end up feeling uncomfortably full. I feel peaceful about chocolate – something that for years I could never even imagine.
This process with chocolate, and other foods that I had previously desired/restricted/felt out of control with was pivotal in me healing my relationship with food and my body, and learning to make peace with food. Practicing this helped me to know I can trust my body – it knows what/how much/when to eat and when to stop; I just needed to learn to be in tune with it.
Does any of this resonate with you? Do you use food to manage your emotions? Do you eat in an uncontrolled way at times that leaves you feeling less than good about yourself? Would you like to learn how to tune into your body’s signals and feel peaceful about food instead? Try what I did above with some food. Write it all down. Let me know what that experience was like, I’d love to know how you find it.
If you’re curious to find out how coaching can help you feel freedom and peace with food and trust your intuition about your body, then just head to my ‘work with me’ page where you can easily schedule a FREE one-hour discovery session. During that call you will uncover what’s holding you back from food freedom and the steps that can lead you on an amazing journey of healing and transformation in your relationship with food, your body, and so much more.