This is the second post of a two-part series. To read part I of this post, please click here
It was my fourth birthday party. Since we were moving to Brazil soon, it was also a farewell party, and a big one. It was the only big birthday party I have had in my entire life. I remember it was held at some sort of club, there were a lot of people and a hired caterer (something almost unthinkable for my mother!) And then there was the clown. And he wanted to paint my face.
I was completely and irrationally terrified as only a four-year-old can be. While most of the other children were loving it all, I wanted nothing to do with the clown and his face paint (and certainly not on my face!). My party was ruined. In fact, I hid in the kitchen the entire time.
I don’t know exactly who stayed with me in the kitchen, but I don’t think it was either of my parents – at least not all of the time. Of course they were probably running around organizing things and tending to the guests. What really comforted me at that moment was the food, more specifically the dozens of intricately decorated mini-ice cream cakes. I recall later telling someone that the good side of the party was that I had stayed close to the food the entire time.
Although I hadn’t thought of it in a while, this story is not something that had been forgotten or hidden in my mind, as it has been told and retold over the years by my mother. The interesting detail that came up now was that of the ice cream cakes. When I remembered the ice cream cakes I felt like I could eat a ceiling-high pile. I felt like I had been looking for them my entire life. It was such a visceral craving it felt like nothing else could fill up my void except for those ice cream cakes. Right now writing this I want those ice cream cakes so badly it almost hurts.
It is interesting because here in Brazil ice cream cakes are rare – I believe I have only seen them for sale once in the more than 30 years I have lived here. I don’t know why this particular detail only came up so strongly now, nor what has been triggering this strong need for comfort and protection, which originally was a need to be shielded from someone scary (the clown) who wanted to do something I did not want to do (paint my face).
I don’t know if this is related, but it is also funny because I was never a big fan of makeup. Also, once when I was six and went through a brief period of interest for makeup, I got a kit of child makeup and ate several of the flavored lipsticks that came with it!
Perhaps this story will bring about significant change in my relationship with food, perhaps not, but it does bring up several issues related to my relationship with my own children.
For instance, it has reminded me that no matter how I try, it is impossible to protect them from every traumatic incident or foresee the lasting effect of seemingly small events on their lives. On the other hand, it is also a strong reminder not to belittle the things that upset them – what might seem insignificant or minor to me may be a huge deal to them and I must give them the best emotional support we can at all times.
Please share your stories about your relationship with food. Do you interfere in your children’s relationship with food? Do you actively foster a healthy relationship with food in your home?
This is the continuation of an original post to World Moms Blog published by our writer in Brazil and mother of three, EcoZiva. You can read Part I here.
The image in this post is credited to Chris Martin. It holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.
I have been an emotional eater for over two decades and over the past six years or so – when I became fully aware of the matter – I have approached it from multiple angles and using all sorts of techniques. I have worked on issues related to my father’s death when I was a teenager, my relationship with my mother and childhood issues of all sorts. I have undergone several different types of therapy, from the more traditional ones to art therapy, Gestalt therapy, family constellations and energy psychology. I have used EFT, NLP, reiki, homeopathy, ThetaHealing and many other alternative treatments.
The positive side has been that I have learned a lot throughout this process. Trying to create a healthier relationship with food has undoubtedly been what has most helped me stay on my personal/spiritual growth path over the past few years.
Emotional eating is a complex issue that can have multiple causes. These causes generally carry specific purposes which might still “serve” the emotional eater in certain ways, such as eating for a sense of comfort or protection or even to “numb” oneself of difficult feelings. Thus, they can be complicated to release unless the person becomes aware of the underlying events that gave food such emotional significance and are able to let go of that.
For instance, it might be that, as a child, someone gave the person something sweet every time he/she was upset, so the person developed the habit of eating sweets every time negative emotions come up. Letting go of that habit would then involve things like: becoming aware of the pattern and how it began, finding ways to heal the inner child that is used to being given sweets instead of the true attention or emotional support they need when negative emotions come up, and realizing that there are now adult ways of dealing with negative emotions.
Additionally, I believe we can only stop emotional eating when we truly want to. It is not like one consciously wants to continue having an unhealthy relationship with food (although one could, as surrender can also be a good tool!) but it can take time to become aware, deal with and let go of the multiple unconscious blocks around the pattern.
In my case, for example, I recognize that I have frequently side stepped certain issues and have not gone as deep as I could in certain treatments. On the other side, respecting our pace and giving ourselves the time to deal with the often painful issues – as opposed to judging ourselves and making ourselves wrong for “failed” attempts – is essential.
In my case, after three years of great improvement, my second pregnancy (which ended up in a miscarriage), followed by the pregnancies and births of my two youngest children, brought my emotional eating back to square one.
It was no surprise to me that pregnancy would once again bring up issues that would be difficult for me to deal with, but I expected that things would get better after the babies were born and began to get older. However, even though my youngest is now 16 months old things have worsened terribly and over the past few weeks I have gained more than 5 kg (11 lbs).
I have still not figured out what is triggering this new fallback, yet while using a combination of the techniques I have learned over the years, a story I hadn’t thought of for many years came to mind. I will tell that story in the next part of this post.
TO BE CONTINUED…
And you? Please share your stories about your relationship with food. Do you interfere in your children’s relationship with food?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer in Brazil, Ecoziva.
The image used in this post holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.