A couple of days ago I got news that my Father is very ill. Without getting into all the family dirt here I’m just going to say I’m not very close to Dad. Our relationship has been on a steady course of deterioration since my parents divorce at age 9.
I’ve been going through a whole host of emotions upon hearing the news. I’ve cried, gotten angry, indifferent, you name it. Honestly, I don’t know what to feel but as I sift through all my emotional baggage you can be sure food has been a HUGE source of comfort.
Or has it?
I woke up this morning determined to get to the root of my massive overeating these past two days (and yes… I mean massive). You’d think I’d immediately recognize that it was tied to the news of my Father but I didn’t see it until this morning. That’s when I found a series of posts by Steven Stosny, Ph.D. I have never read anything that summarize and explained my eating habits and motivations so well.
He talks about emotional eating and says it’s no different then any other kind of eating. That what we really need to understand is core hurt eating and core value eating.
Core hurt eating tries to avoid feeling disregarded, unimportant, guilty, devalued, disrespected, rejected, powerless, inadequate, or unlovable. The connection between core hurts and high-energy, high-sensory food is irresistible. Core hurts cause pain and deplete energy; rapid eating of high sensory, high calorie food numbs pain and restores energy, for a few minutes.
In contrast, core value eating is an expression of self-value. Instead of focusing on what you cannot have, you focus on building more value in your life. It helps you to stop thinking so much about weight and food and start looking at yourself and others with more compassion. As you value yourself more, you automatically value your health and well being and learn to motivate yourself with “acts of kindness.”
His series of posts have really opened my eyes to why I overate so much in my teens and 20’s and why I “relapsed” these last couple of days. My Dad’s illness is stirring up feelings in me I’ve worked so hard to overcome. Now that he is sick I feel guilty yet my old feelings of unimportance, disregard, unloved, rejection, and basically everything on the core hurt list are still there. Hence….
Core hurt eating is always overeating; we know that as soon as we stop, core hurts will get worse and energy will vanish. So we don’t stop, until our bodies make us. If core hurts are severe, and the skill to regulate them is underdeveloped, overeating turns into “attacks on food,” making the food damaging rather than nourishing, an instrument of harm rather than a means of health and well being.
That makes total sense to me. I’ve had no desire to treat myself good these couple of days. Instead I’ve been rapidly eating “high sensory, high calorie food” to “numb pain and restore energy.”
The reason why Dr. Stosny’s posts hit so close to home for me wasn’t only for his explanation of core hurt but the core value as well. I always credit the birth of my son with my weight loss and now it makes perfect sense. Once I had a child I no longer felt those core hurt feelings. I was valued. I had purpose and power to teach this little person all that life had to offer him. I cut ties with my Father which in essence allowed me to heal and one of the results of that was weight loss. I need to repeat the core value eating because it’s exactly how I felt after Ryan was born…
…core value eating is an expression of self-value. Instead of focusing on what you cannot have, you focus on building more value in your life. It helps you to stop thinking so much about weight and food and start looking at yourself and others with more compassion. As you value yourself more, you automatically value your health and well being and learn to motivate yourself with “acts of kindness.”
WOW how powerful is that?
If you have ever related to me on the weight loss thing this series of posts is a MUST read. It may give you insight to uncover what’s really at the core of your own overeating. Note: the site does not do a good job of showing these posts are a series but you should really read them in order as I have listed.
- Emotional Eating: All Diets are from Hell
- Weight Management Myths
- Why We Think Thin and Eat Fat
- Core Value Eating
My favorite line in all those posts…
“You will not lose weight until you value yourself more.”
I couldn’t agree more.