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Why Permission Matters for Emotional Eaters

Updated: Jun 26, 2019

As kids, we can’t wait to become adults where we no longer have to ask for permission anymore and get all the freedom we want, to do whatever we want.

But what we didn’t realize as kids is that adults hold themselves back just as much, if not more, than we were held back as kids.

These tactics in adulthood are more insidious, less about actual safety and more about perceived safety:  hustling to fit in, achieve the status quo and the elusive American dream.

We as women have become experts at denying ourselves pleasure, expression and standing in our full power so that we’ll be liked and accepted and not considered in one of the treacherous categories that women can so easily fall into (pushy, bitchy, demanding, slutty, bossy, outspoken, the list goes on and on).

We are trying so hard to be a “good girl”, that we’ve lost touch with being satisfied women.  

We’ve learned from a very early age to put ourselves last, thus denying ourselves the permission to really and truly fulfill even our most basic needs.  Ever remember your parents telling you, at the youngest of ages, to be polite and go hug someone you really didn’t want to?

It may seem like a stretch at first glance, but really trace it back and the roots of denying yourself (or overindulging to make up for denying yourself) will be found in the ways we were conditioned to not put ourselves, our basic needs and body wisdom first.

Lest I sound like I’m advocating self-absorption, let me remind you that you cannot give what you don’t have.

An empty well produces no water to drink.  

You can’t hydrate others (we’re talking metaphor here) if you yourself are not hydrated.  

As such, we are caught in a bind in our modern world.

We hear the siren song of self-care and female empowerment, but for most of us, this goes against the messages we learned growing up and we end up in a battle of wills, that is solely our own:  that of the drive to care for ourselves up against the drive to satisfy the expectations ingrained in us.

Nowhere is this more prevalent or obvious than in women’s relationship to food.

Food is the most fundamental building block of satiation, pleasure, and nourishment for humans and, alongside sex, it is the place we are the most confused, contorted and tortured as women.

We eat foods that we think we are told we “should” eat and then secretly, go and eat a bag of candy in the office bathroom or gorge on a pint of ice cream late at night when no one can catch us feeding ourselves.

This “feeding” isn’t about the sugar and fat heavy food, it’s about a deep longing in our soul for permission and the freedom, ease, and expression that follow when one has permission to do, be and live as they truly want.

Underneath all emotional eating is a belief that we don’t have permission to express our feelings, opinion or deep in the bones desires (hell, sometimes we don’t even know what those deep in the bones desires even are).

In the conditioning we’ve all been taught,  good girls (and appropriate women) don’t get angry or fall apart, they don’t push back or stand their ground.

Good girls apologize for how they act or who they are or for the most simple of things like expressing an opinion, needing to take care of themselves or claiming the things they truly want.

We don’t give ourselves permission to have the pleasure and satisfaction we want: inside or outside of the bedroom.

Asking for what we want from others is the most daunting of places to give ourselves permission.

We have so much piled on top of our sexuality as it is: to not be too slutty, or too easy, not to like it too much and seem like a wild maniac that we have repressed and denied permission to really let ourselves bask in the deep soul satisfaction that comes from our innate sexuality.

If you think all this self-monitoring and good girl behavior doesn’t affect your relationship with food, think again.   

When we deny ourselves the permission to have the full expression of our body, heart, and soul, that expression has to get hydrated somewhere.

And if it can’t get it in the natural way we are designed, then it will get it through compensatory measures like overeating (or over-drinking, over-shopping, or over-working as the case may be).

If you want to break these compensatory habits that have you feel guilty and like you can’t fully be the woman you dream of being, start by giving yourself permission in the easiest area of your life.

This will be different for everyone.

  • For someone, the easiest area will be around work.

  • For others, it may be in saying no to an invite you didn’t really want to go to anyway.

  • For some, it may be being honest with your mom or siblings about how you really feel about politics.

This isn’t easy, walk in the park kind of work.  But it is the work that gets you off the emotional eating roller coaster and into the peace of mind, ease, and freedom with food you crave.  And with that weight lifted (pun intended), the experience of your life radically begins to shift.

Break out of the bonds of being a good girl and step into being the woman you want to be.

When you give yourself permission, simply through your example, you free other women to give themselves permission, too.

And the world needs free women more now, than ever.  

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