Eating the Food, Feeling the Feels

“Eat what you want when you are hungry, and feel what you feel when you are not.”  – Geneen Roth

Whoa.  If this isn’t the lesson of a life time…

I am wondering at what point in our life we learned to stop feeling what we feel versus allowing those feelings to happen. Not in a tantrum way. Not in a drama creating way. Not in a I need attention way. Not in a lash out and hurt others way.  But inviting them. Allowing them. Permitting our feelings.

We some how learn to stuff our feelings, control them, hide them, eat over them. It is no surprise to me that when I was at my most depressed I was also at my heaviest. I think the only thing I knew to do with my emotions was eat.  I’m sad, eat. I am happy, eat. I am lonely, eat. I am lost, afraid, confused, eat.  I know I am not alone in this.

Now. I am not a therapist and I KNOW there are some things that need to be dealt with in the capable hands of a great therapist. I love therapy and feel like most people should explore that kind of support at some time in their life. We can’t always unwind all that goes on in our brains on our own. No shame in getting help. So PLEASE get some if you need it.

However,  many of us can explore feeling our feelings ourselves in little bits and practices.

Here is an example of what I do:

What if the next time my husband was traveling and I felt alone, lonely that I explored letting myself feel that instead of grabbing food for comfort when I am not even hungry?

Feeling it might feel scary to me at first. I often picture a feeling like a house guest (thanks to that delightful poem by Rumi)  – its present in my body but its not ALL of me. It gives me space to contain it. I can notice where I feel it. What it feels like – cold, hot, dark, bright, tangled, sharp, etc. I can ask myself what I need in this moment instead of food.  I can just sit with it and breathe. Honestly, this is what I do with the biggie feels in my life when they feel like more than I can handle. I just allow them. I breathe with them. I feel them.

This doesn’t mean of course that in five minutes that every thing is resolved and I am back to a state of bliss.

It simply means I allowed myself to feel what I feel.

It is different than wallowing.  I am not sitting here obsessively ruminating how what ever happened is not fair or I am right and they are wrong, reliving the moment again and again and again. (Note: I am not perfect at this, I just practice it. I am still pretty damn good at throwing one HELL of a pity party).  I am allowing the anger, sadness, loneliness, depression, disappointment to be, giving it some space to let it run its course and seeing what I can do to support myself through that in ways that don’t have to do with food.

Food is for nourishment. Food is for enjoyment and pleasure. Food is for fuel for the life we love. It doesn’t need to be our comfort, our companion, our shelter, our protection against our feelings.

“Eat what you want when you are hungry, and feel what you feel when you are not.”

Are you up to the challenge? Can you try feeling the feels when they come up in your life?