It’s Not Just About Losing Weight, It’s About Creating a Lighter Existence
As a counselor who specializes in mindful weight loss and emotional eating issues, I have witnessed that clients who struggle with weight and body image issues need so much more than a strict diet.
Most clients know what they “should” be eating. So, what does it take to establish a healthy and relaxed relationship with food, without having to experience the painful and frustrating yo-yo dieting cycle?
What if food was your friend, a trusted comforter and supporter when you were in a state of emotional distress - for the past 10, 20 or 30 years? What if eating certain foods provided instant relief and took the edge off… gave you a moment of freedom from whatever was ailing you?
Eating in order to numb or self-soothe is a powerful and proven ritual, which can’t and shouldn’t be ripped away from anyone. Instead, the therapeutic and healing work requires gently replacing the powerful ritual of eating instead of feeling over time. This asks for a deeper dive into the underlying core emotions, which cause someone to check out and escape their current reality by eating.
It requires a loving approach to learning to get comfortable with discomfort and navigate feelings of anxiety, fear and distress. I have found that “inner child” work is critical for healing a client’s relationship with food.
Valuable questions are: How would you soothe and comfort a young child in need of protection and reassurance? What would you say and do? Would you lovingly embrace her and tell her you’ve got her back… that you understand and will help her get through it?
The concept of ‘re-mothering’ is at the heart of my treatment model. 90% of my clients didn’t have safe and reliable nurturing while growing up. The good news is that it is never too late to give to ourselves what wasn’t given to us when we were little.
Over time, clients learn how to fill their inner self-love and self-compassion reservoir. They start witnessing a “shift” about three to four months into my mindful eating & emotional self-care program.
They experience a greater sense of calm, inner peace and self-acceptance, as well as a reduction of punishing negative self-talk. The need to reach for food when they are not physically hungry greatly diminishes. The new healthy rituals have started taking the place of the familiar ritual of eating when feeling stressed, bored or lonely. The inner reservoir of self-compassion and self-nurturing gets fuller, and the need to take the “edge off” and numb with food weakens throughout the therapeutic process.
Clients learn to “downshift”, stress and worry less, and live more in the present moment. They start to put their needs first, and to be kinder and more compassionate with themselves and others. It’s an “inside-out” process, which goes to the root causes of emotional eating. It guarantees that new healthy habits are being formed on a behavioral level.
Their inner “barometer” assists clients with listening to their bodies, and paying attention to their needs for rest, relaxation, support, play or movement. This leads to an inner sensation of calmness and a greater sense of self-confidence. Clients become less reactive, don’t sweat the small stuff as much, and become more proactive in taking care of themselves. The result could be measured as a greater sense of Joi-de-Vivre, a more joyous way of living and being.
About The Author
Petra Beumer is a Well Me Right Wellness Expert who received her master's degree in behavioral psychology at the University of Hamburg/Germany. She is a mindful eating and emotional self-care expert with over two decades of counseling and health promotion experience. Her passion is to help others be at peace with food and their body, to practice good emotional self-care, and create a lighter existence - both physically and emotionally. She has been successfully practicing as a counselor and health educator, assisting thousands of clients in making positive lifestyle changes. She taught weight loss classes for over four years at a local clinic and has given several talks on weight regulation and emotional eating, both to hospitals as well as corporations.
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