I have a two year old inside my head. She stays quiet a lot of the time but then she makes herself known. I might be having an ok day diet wise – eating all the ‘right’ things then I suddenly get a compulsion to reach for the sweet food, or something fried with cheese on it.
Once she has reared her head, she won’t be silenced until she’s satisfied. My inner child wants to eat! My adult brain can reason – but you’re not hungry in your belly. This is ‘head hunger’. But the inner child doesn’t care what the adult says, she wants to eat.
If the adult tries to get tough – saying “No” to whatever she craves, then things get really heated. My inner child stamps her feet and says “But I want it – and I’m going to have it” and once I’m locked into this battle that no-one on the outside can see, there’s only one outcome. The toddler wins.
This inner child just wants to be loved and she’s equating getting what she wants with love. But is it what she needs? As a mother of two, I’m disposed to give my children what they need and want BUT when I know it’s for their own good. If my children are hungry, I feed them, but I wouldn’t let my 8 year old have chocolate cake for tea, as much as he wanted it. I’d make sure he has something ‘proper’ but then I would allow the chocolate cake for pudding if he still wanted it. It’s all about balance.
My kids don’t have a weight problem. They don’t use food for comfort. They eat when they’re hungry. Thank God.
I’m learning how to be a good mother to myself – the way I am to my kids. I would never let my kids eat the chocolate cake then berate them for enjoying it so why do I do this to myself?
I’m working towards a life where I’m free from the pain of abusing food and criticising my choices. I’m trying to swim to that life raft of calm and I’m getting there. I’ve swum a long way out of the deep water and I can see the land in the distance but I’m not quite there yet.
If I have any words of wisdom to share that got me to this mid-point I’d say being aware of my emotions has been key. I started noticing what I was thinking and feeling when I ate the chocolate cake / bag of sweets / insert other item of choice. The awareness didn’t always stop the eventual outcome. Most of the time the food would still be consumed but sometimes it did and noticing helped me make sense of what was driving me to the food in the first place.
If it was simple boredom then distraction has been a great way to avoid that land-mine. I’d get started on a new task – write a blog post or do the ironing, and I’d forget what I was going for. When I later remembered, often the craving would have passed.
If it was actual hunger I was feeling then I’d eat and enjoy with permission!
If I knew I wasn’t hungry but I still felt compelled to eat anyway, this would often be needing love and it’s the hardest craving of all to satisfy. I’ve tried EFT tapping which is pretty good at helping me to deal with things. I’ve also tried ‘sitting with the feeling’ to wait for the emotions to pass, as normally as they came. This is quite hard – it’s so difficult to literally sit and do nothing to ease your discomfort when you feel very uncomfortable indeed!
I’m still working on these techniques and seeing how I get on but the big achievement I feel I have now compared to me five years ago is that I don’t beat myself up any more.
Yes I still get cravings or have binges or eat when I don’t need to but now I draw a line under it. I tell myself I did the best I could at the time and today is a new day. I give myself a fresh start every day.
I recognise that I’m human and I’m not perfect and I wouldn’t expect so much from anyone else so why apply that to myself? I don’t call myself names – ever. I try to be as gentle with my emotions as I would with anyone else. I try to treat myself better.
I’m still a work in progress – maybe I always will be but I can say that I’ve successfully banished the shame that comes from disordered eating. I have nothing to be ashamed of.
Thanks for reading and let me know in the comments if you have any techniques for when your inner child wants to eat.