Anna regularly ate junk food—cookies, cakes, caffeine, sodas—and at times she stuffed herself beyond the point of return. She knew that she was destroying her health, and she desperately wanted to change these habits. But it had always been a great struggle; she was hooked to junk food.

She came to see me for healing and we talked about her life. Her mind took her to a time when she was a little girl of four, and her parents were hugging her, but she didn’t feel any love from their hearts. Her father and brother teased and humiliated her. She felt empty and unloved. But there was another part of her that was watching the scene. With her mature mind, she now understood that her mother and father felt ‘empty’ to her, not because she didn’t deserve love, but because they were missing love in their own lives, and they simply didn’t have enough to give. Anna had always thought that she’d done something wrong, that she didn’t deserve to be loved, but now she knew the real reason.

Sugar is love

I asked her to trace back to the past and find another picture in her memory. She went to a time when she was 10, and she was sitting at the table eating chocolate cake. Her mother had always given her this when she had been a good girl. The cake tasted so great! Her mother made it, and the sugar was ‘love from Mom’. It felt good; Anna knew her mother liked her if she could have dessert or treats. She desperately wanted to please her mom, and eating her mom’s cake definitely pleased mom. She was happy eating that cake, and life was okay. She now saw how much the sugar was equated to mother-love.

She then went forward many years in her imagination, and she saw a picture of her boyfriend leaving her for another woman, and now she realised that she had been ‘eating herself up’ about this for years in order to fill the gaping holes. She was having many revelations… gaining wisdom for her essence that was helping to heal her.

She looked at her habitual thoughts. “Here’s the first one,” she said, “‘Nothing is all right.’ And the next: ‘Life is not fair and no good.’ And, ‘What’s the use?’” These were words she often heard from her father and also the part of her own mind that she tried to stuff down with food. A voice in her mind constantly told her to eat all the cookies she wanted.

I asked her to experience her strength now and to talk to that old compulsive voice. She said to it: “I’m in charge now. There’s no way you can get me to eat those cookies when I’m not hungry. I get to decide. You can be creative instead of destructive. You can stop eating those cookies now.”

Letting your essence guide you

Another time, I asked her to go to the place of guidance within herself to give herself some more understanding of her situation. Her essence spoke to her in the form of her inner wisdom: “You often eat when you’re lonely. Your loneliness is a spur to help you grow. Blocking or numbing it with food only hinders you. Accept your loneliness, your boredom, your anger and your grief. Work with these feelings; let yourself feel them, and then come back to the love.”

I spoke to her deeper mind, and said, “You don’t have to feed yourself junk any more. When you were little, sugar was a reward. The people in your family showed their love through sweet food, but it’s not a reward any more. You can reward yourself in new ways now. You can give yourself love and nurturing. You can reward yourself by eating wholesome, healthy, delicious food in moderate amounts. You’re not a little girl anymore, and the old ways are over. The rewards you get now are 10 times greater. You deserve them, no matter how many things you did that weren’t good. You deserve nurturing because your essence is goodness.

Anna then got a spontaneous image of herself out on a cliff overlooking the ocean. She watched the waves roll onto the beach and out again. The clouds were floating peacefully above her. She felt a peaceful presence that brought her back to herself once again.

Finding a greater comfort

Eating is not only a necessity; it’s a ‘comfort habit’, a habit that seems to make you feel at ease and secure. Other such habits that seem to create comfort are smoking, drug-taking, overeating, junk eating, nail biting, hair twirling, and drinking. These habits are attempts to alter consciousness. Many of these are habits in which you are trying to fill that primal need of the infant in the arms of its mother, warmly sucking on her breast as she loves you in a peaceful idyllic way. You long for this ultimate satisfaction, for comfort and security and love. You long to be the infant at peace, and you seek to create that state by putting something into your mouth, into your body, to quiet your tension-filled mind. It seems to work for a short while, but it has long term repercussions and many negative effects.

The underlying issues of food addiction

The roots of most food problems stem from basic human issues of love and self-esteem. Food is used to fill emptiness and loneliness, to mask self-hatred and shame, to find comfort and pleasure, to tranquilise—so many reasons. When you know of other ways to get your needs met and your problems solved, food ceases to be the only alternative.

Not everyone has experienced the lack of early nurturing. Some people have a simple physiological addiction to sweets or carbohydrates or fats. But for others, the addiction is compounded with the satisfaction of these deeper needs. The primary principle here is that you have the capacity in  your adult years to bring yourself what may have been missing earlier in your life.

Beating your inner gremlin

When you know it may be some ‘gremlin’ or some lonely little kid that, as a part of you, is eating all those cookies, you get to make the decision about how you handle the matter. You can give the ‘gremlin’ or the child some other way to play or get nurtured—and you can eat to satisfy a more evolved part of yourself. You can talk to these parts to remind them that they do not have the ultimate power over you.

When you can centre yourself in your essence, then you can eat with greater awareness of who you’re really nourishing.

This was first published in the October 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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