I work with many women to heal food addiction, chronic dieting, emotional eating, out of control sugar cravings and the overwhelming sense of needing to be "perfect" both in their bodies, and in their outer world as well.
Of course, I too have been that woman. (You can read my bio at eatlikeagoddess.com).
I sometimes feel as though I have tapped into the beating heart of our culture with the way we as women view ourselves in the world. It is as though our relationship to food and our bodies perfectly reflects just how far we have progressed in terms of freedom and equality in the culture as a whole in my opinion. How far can we as women in the Western world have come if we hate our own bodies?
The rise in eating disorders illustrates this.
I believe the current statistic is that somewhere around 65% of U.S. women between the ages of 25 and 45 report having an eating disorder, and this is just the reported number. But I can tell you that it has to be a lot higher than that if you take the rest of us who have, or have had at some point some form of "disordered eating" habits.
I see this all the time in my practice:
- We are afraid of food because we think it will make us fat.
- We avoid eating for this reason and swing from diet to diet.
- We have developed a love hate relationship with food and our bodies, making us feel guilty all of the time with food.
- We want to feel like we look "normal" or beautiful enough but that feeling doesn't arrive, no matter how much weight is lost.
- The need to be perfect drives us to do more, be more and leaves us exhausted and unsatisfied and struggling even more with food.
Though my mother's generation in the late 1950's did not have all of the same opportunities as we do today as women and faced discrimination that in some ways we do not face now, they did not have to stare down the self mutilation of eating disorders to the extent that we do today.
What is going on? Why is this happening, and why now?
Have we - as the next generations of women moving forward from the oppressions faced by our mothers and grandmothers - stopped short at the door of freedom and full self expression?
If so, what do we do about this?
I'll tell you a story about a client who worked with me to lose weight. She had been going from diet to diet and cleanse to fast for her entire adult life. She was health conscious and couldn't understand what was holding her back. Though she'd been exhausted and frustrated... she could not get herself to stop dieting, and in fact thought of me as the enemy that I would even suggest it. I think that she actually thought I was going to recommend a new and improved diet for her when she originally contacted me and got a big let down! I'm sure if you are reading here, you know what I did, and it wasn't recommend another cleanse.
I listened to her very carefully as she told me how frustrated and unhappy in her body she was and that she needed to lose this weight YESTERDAY. As a nutritionist, I made the simple recommendations that I often do that have nothing to do with fasting, starving, or doing anything other than supporting and nourishing ourselves.
This client was unable to follow through with any actions we set out for her and it was at this point that we began tapping.
Even though I wish to have lost this weight YESTERDAY, I'm so frustrated, and I hate the way I look... I choose to love and accept myself.
Even though I really want to do a fast or a cleanse just to get off some of this weight NOW and I can't make myself eat anything... I choose to feel safe in my body and know that I can succeed without dieting.
After tapping for several minutes on this frustration and all of her thoughts about her body and dieting, a clear memory came up for her of being 12 years old and feeling like she was ugly. She had thought that she should look more like anther girl her age who was smaller. Though she was not overweight by any measure, she had decided that something was wrong with her body right then and there, and that she was too big. The dieting started shortly after this.
When we tapped on this specific core event/issue she began to cry. She felt deep in her heart that she would never be beautiful no matter what she did because she would never measure up and this is where her desperation came from to diet and try to do something to change her body. Of course, none of this had been conscious to her until tapping brought it up.
We tapped on various aspects of this issue and her remaining feelings around it using the choices method until she could begin to feel some distance from it and relief.
Within one month of that session, she was able to finally stick to a plan that made sense for her and begin to lose weight without starving herself or doing a cleanse... and over the holiday season no less.
By releasing some of the pressure of feeling like she never looked right she was able to stop feeling the desperate need to change her body.
I mention this clients story because she is like so many women's stories that I hear. Formative decisions about how we look form some of the core experiences of our relationship to food and our bodies.
We can love our bodies and ourselves no matter where we are today. EFT can help us to release old core wounds, beliefs, habits and patterns wherever they come from and move forward into our lives fully expressed, peaceful with food and ourselves.
San Francisco, California, US
From the EFTfree Archives, which are now a part of EFT International .
Originally published February 26, 2011.