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I want to talk about how many of us use food to self-medicate. I’m one of the many who do this.

I find myself propelled towards food whenever I feel anxious, and I can feel anxious about a lot of things:

  • Overloading myself with work, eventually leading to feeling overwhelmed
  • News that disrupts my routine, even if it’s good news
  • Pushing myself to finish something when I’m tired
  • Planning for an important event
  • Any change in plans
  • Any unexpected or unanticipated situation
  • Pretty much anything that requires a change in my daily routine, since as a rule, my daily routine is filled and planned for at least a month in advance.

When one or more of those events occur, I feel a knot in my stomach, and a corresponding urgent need to calm that knot with the kind of food that is meant to calm – comfort food.

I love good food. In part, because I love to enjoy good food, I don’t want to spoil that pleasure by using the food to fill a seeming void.

I want to share with you a different way to deal with anxiety.

  • Keep the feeling alive inside you. This may seem counter-intuitive because what we reflexively do is push the discomfort into our unconsciousness, thinking this will help get rid of it. In fact, pushing it down does the exact opposite – it keeps the feeling fresh, intensifying it so that it becomes stronger. Instead of pushing the feeling down or away, try keeping it alive in your conscious awareness, allowing it to flow through you, until it begins to dissipate. The feeling will eventually dissipate.
  • Support yourself physically as you experience the feeling. Try placing your hand firmly on the place you feel it the most – your belly, or chest, or throat, or another part of your body. Feel your back being supported by a chair if you’re sitting; your feet being supported by the ground beneath you. Such support helps to calm you down, and the anxious feeling will become more tolerable.
  • Talk to a friend. Talking it out helps to move the anxiety out of your system. If you can’t talk to anyone in this moment, imagine someone dear to you beside you, supporting you emotionally. It may be a person, or an animal you love.

Once you’ve given yourself this kind of support, then revisit the source of your anxiety. It could be that dealing with it isn’t so stress-inducing any longer.

I’ve discovered that supporting myself in this way increases my confidence in dealing with difficult events. I end up trusting myself more every time I approach a situation that invokes anxiety in me. It helps me believe in myself.

Try supporting the feeling of anxiety the next time you feel it before reaching for food.

Ready to work on your anxiety? I have a workshop specifically designed around restoring your balance. Find it here.


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Quote of the Week

When you believe in yourself more than you believe in food, you will stop using food as if it were your only chance at not falling apart.”

― Geneen Roth


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