• Amy Jones

Food is a Symptom, not the Problem

Updated: Jun 26, 2019

I am, what they call in the rooms, a triple winner. Having worked the steps and been sponsored in both OverEaters Anonymous, Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous & Al-anon, I have thoroughly looked at and worked at my patterns of seeking escape from myself and that "god shaped hole" that exists in my soul as well as all the other contorted and compensatory behaviors that go along with trying to escape looking inside and dealing what's happening in here.


For the record, breaking the codpendency of stuffing my voice, burying my experience, complaining, playing the victim and actually showing up to take responsibility for my life has been the HARDEST habit to break, far harder than breaking up with food or not controlling my boyfriends (which actually is just another form of co-dependence).


I have always been at war with myself as the more genuine part of me wants to tell the truth and the compensatory part that wants love and approval learned to pretend you didn't hurt my feelings or say something crazy or act in a way that was cutting, domineering or just plain asshole-ish.


I would usually stuff the feelings and let them rot, build resentment and complain all over the place. It wasn't fun, but the other option- telling you the truth and having you abandon me was an early wound that I was not quick to have touched again. I would deny myself and my experience to not have that happen.


And thus, as a salve for that self denial and burying of my experience, I turned to food.


Food never says no.

It doesn't withhold its love when its mad.

It doesn't make rash decisions and offer conditional approval or acceptance.


Food was always there for me. Even though I would feel so much guilt knowing that I had done something to myself (binging) that likely was destructive and physically made me feel bad, the idea of having to sit with the uncomfortable emotions was beyond me. I had no emotional coping skills.


Unfortunately, I also didn't learn emotional coping skills in 12 step. I eventually left 12 step because of the perspective it takes that I am a powerless human over a substance or food. I don't actually believe that. I'm not powerless to anything- I simply didn't have the right foundation or ability to cope with life on life's terms until I built some coping skills.


What I came to see as true is that I seek comfort in things outside of me (food and co-dependency) when I have lost touch with the god shaped hole inside of me. When I don't have a connection with my soul voice and am not actively listening to her, things traverse down a very slippery slope VERY FAST.


I'm telling you all this because if you think that food is your problem, likely it isn't. That you just need to exercise more willpower, get the snackfood out of the house or make better choices, well, you're fooling yourself. Food is a symptom, not the cause of why you're overweight, dis-satisfied, angsty or miserable.


Sure, there might be some patterns that you will need to untangle to find increased health and vitality, but it ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS comes back to you, your connection to self and how many strategies/resources/coping skills you have in your toolbelt and team so that food isn't your salve.


The food is merely a reflection that something is askew in your relationship to yourself and how you engage with life. And that's not another place to shame yourself- its just a place to acknowledge and see reality for what it is so you gain the power to make the change.


What I really learned in 12 step is that we can't go it alone. 12 step was the original qualitative research that community is the best antidote to addiction- hence sponsorship and fellowship. But we can build it outside the rooms too, in fact we HAVE to build it outside the rooms for the shame and secrecy to dissolve in our lives. That a support network is the truest and richest form of coping and resourcing there is.


If you need some support this holiday season, click the link in the comments and book a free Body Breakthrough Session with me. I would be honored to be one of your supports as you look at your relationship to food and how to untangle the hold it has on you.

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