Have you ever had that experience where you pull into your driveway and all of the sudden you think, ‘how’d I even get here?!’ You know that driving trance, right? You remember leaving work or the store or church or wherever and then you’re home but you don’t even remember the drive?
Sometimes it’s like that with eating for me. I go into an eating trance. I remember the first bite and suddenly the bowl or the plate or the package is empty and I don’t remember how it got that way. There’s no way I ate that whole chocolate bar or that bag of corn chips.
It just happened to me the other night. I was at a party and there was a big plate of cheese. I wasn’t even going to eat any of it but then I decided to have a couple of pieces. When I looked down at the serving plate just a few minutes later I saw that half of the cheese was missing. Like 15 or more pieces of cheese. I looked around and my cheese-lovin’ boys were nowhere to be seen. In fact all the other guests were in the other room watching a basketball game. And I couldn’t even blame it on the dog because she was too little to jump up on that table to get to that plate of cheese.
Total. Eating. Trance.
I can easily drop into this trance with chocolate. My husband likes to hide my favorite dark chocolate bars in his sock drawer for me. It’s not like the kids don’t know they’re there but they do know that they better not touch them or Dad is going to be really unhappy with them. I can open that drawer, telling myself I’m just going to have one (or maybe two) squares from that brand new bar. I enjoy it while looking out the window, watching some birds flitter around or a chipmunk scurry by and then when I go to close the drawer, I see an empty wrapper amidst the socks.The whole bar gone.
I’m thinking you might be able to relate. I know from coaching many women over the last 12 years that going into an eating trance is pretty common. Unfortunately so are the follow-up feelings that might just lead you into saying not-so-nice things to yourself, like:
- “I’m such a loser.”
- “I always fail at eating healthy.”
- “I have no willpower at all. Why even try?!”
- “There goes my diet, again. I stink.”
- “I’ll never get this eating thing right.”
- “I hate my body. I hate myself.”
Of course none of this mean self-talk works at all to help us get what we really want, which is a healthier relationship with food and eating.
So, what does work? What helps you go into those eating trances way less frequently and emotionally bounce back way more quickly when you do?
Being Kind and Showing Up.
Not quite the quick and sexy fix-me-now solution you might have been hoping for but much more lasting if you practice it.
First, be kind to yourself. You are amazing. (let that compliment 'land' please - no deflecting). I may not even know you, yet I know you are a woman who is so much more than what you perceive as a failure when it comes to your relationship to food and your body. You’ve got a lot going on in your inner and outer life. You take care of other people, maybe a lot of other people. You spread a lot of good in the world. Have some compassion for the fact that your relationship with food and eating is a bit messy at times. It’s okay.
Along with being kind to yourself, showing up helps a lot. Being intentionally present when you eat. Noticing the colors and the shapes and the smell. Paying attention to the textures. Slowing down and really chewing. You’ll be amazed that if you practice this ‘showing up’ when you eat instead of allowing yourself to go into an eating trance, you’ll experience more fully the feeling you’re wanting to feel or you’ll realize that whatever you’re eating isn’t really helping you feel it at all; it’s just stopping you from feeling a feeling that you’re avoiding. That’s a good awareness to have.
Remember being kind and showing up in your relationship to eating is a practice. I’ve been practicing them for over a decade and I still eat mindlessly at times and talk not-so-nicely to myself afterwards. It’s way less frequently than it was before though and I’m much more open to asking myself, “What’s this mindless eating really about for you right now, darlin’?”
So I’ve got two invitations for you:
Be kind and show up.
We'd love to hear about one (or more) of your eating trances over on our Facebook page. What did you mindlessly devour and what were you thinking afterwards?