Ask Geneen Roth: Will the Internal Struggle Ever Get Easier?
My question to you is about sitting with the feeling of wanting to eat when you're not hungry. I have been able to confront these feelings and recognize that I'm not hungry and that I may want to eat for comfort, to fill boredom or an empty feeling, and I have been able to resist filling these feelings with food for the time being. I want to know: Will this unsettling feeling—this heaviness in my throat and chest—diminish eventually with each recognition and confrontation I have with these moments? Currently, it's hard and feels a bit similar to the discomfort of resisting a forbidden food when on a "diet." I know this will not be easy to start (it takes time to change a coping mechanism), but I hope these feelings will diminish and there will eventually be no internal struggle (as is always the case when dieting, even when at a goal weight for me) and eating only when hungry will become second nature. Is it right to hope for this, or will there always be a level of discomfort, just a different one? Thanks!
— Wendy C.,Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
It sounds as if you are really making some changes, and that makes me so happy to hear. Change will always occur with awareness and effort. And love for the process itself. I would suggest that instead of seeing this juncture of you and your body (when you want to eat when you are not hungry) as a confrontation, you see it more as a way to be with yourself, to be with what may satisfy you beside food. It's a way to be tender with yourself, a way to be kind to yourself. I don't know what will happen, but I do know that with curiosity and kindness, there's a softening inside. Something relaxes and understands that it has a place in your heart and that you welcome it. We don't do this work to get rid of anything, even discomfort. We do it because it's a way to get closer to ourselves, even if that involves discomfort. So, gently, and without a timeline, keep getting closer to yourself. Since everything is always in the process of changing—nothing is static, ever—I am certain this will change as well, but how it will change remains to be seen. One thing I know for sure: The process itself is joyful if your intention is to know yourself deeply.
Next: How do you know what your body wants you to eat?
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Geneen Roth's books were among the first to link compulsive eating and perpetual dieting with deeply personal and spiritual issues that go far beyond food, weight and body image. She believes that we eat the way we live and that our relationships to food, money and love are exact reflections of our deeply held beliefs about ourselves and the amount of joy, abundance, pain and scarcity we believe we have (or are allowed) to have in our lives.
Geneen has appeared on many national television shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, The NBC Nightly News, The View and Good Morning America. Articles about Geneen and her work have appeared in numerous publications, including O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Time, Elle, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has written a monthly column in Good Housekeeping magazine since 2007. Geneen is the author of eight books, including The New York Times best-seller When Food Is Love and a memoir about love and loss, The Craggy Hole in My Heart. Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything is her newest book.
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