DESIRE to be free of emotional eating
Find out how enjoying your food is key to sustainable weight-loss!
One part of the intuitive eating puzzle is an elusive highly demonized and totally misunderstood emotion; however when properly embraced, creates the most profound changes in people’s eating habits and quality of life as a whole.
I am talking about DESIRE, and in my practice as a holistic counselor and as an emotional eating expert, people expect me to confirm that the less desire they have towards food, the less they will eat. I however, will bid the contrary while showing you how to use it in order to eat “à la française“, since the French can’t be matched in their understanding of desire, pleasure and “all things nice”. Losing some weight while you are at it will sweeten the deal.
What is desire?
Contrary to common belief, desire is a guiding force that propels us towards what is best for us and thus is part of our intuition. Unlike neediness (and too often confused with it) which is impatient, wants it all and wants it now, desire is a joy in and of itself (think of a lover counting the minutes towards the arrival of his amore!, buying her a flower, looking for the best location from which he can see her when she first steps out and hiding from her sight while she turns her head in all directions looking for him, delaying the moment so he can finally scoop her in his arms with all the wanting of the world). Arriving at our point of desire is suddenly less significant when we are enjoying the path, which is paved with the building up of anticipation and increased pleasure. Too bad desire is a skill less practiced in our current world of instant gratification, which is turning our experiences into something far less full-filling.
What happens when I am not tuned into my desire?
1. You are less likely to enjoy food, and eat (lots of) it anyway.
Without desire, there is no pleasure; therefore when my client (Duaa) claimed that she doesn’t know what she truly likes to eat anymore, and that she would eat anything and everything in sight, I knew we were in a desire crisis. Duaa had a core belief, that she only desired food that is “bad” for her, so she stopped listening to her desires altogether out of fear she might keep falling for them. However, when she started tuning into her desire to have a cookie with her milk, or have a piece of chocolate with her coffee, and responding to it, this slowly brought back the feelings of wanting, and she started feeling more pleasure out of her eating experiences and thus after a while started to need less in order to satisfy her cravings. No more over-eating everything in sight episodes.
2. You are more prone to nibbling, and thus never hungry enough to enjoy food when finally sitting for a meal.
When we don’t know what gives us pleasure, we have nothing to look forward to, and instead are simply reacting to stimulus around us. The first time I noticed this, I watched my tendency to start nibbling as I arrived home to have lunch, an olive here, a stick of cucumber there, all the way to my room, where I changed my clothes and then went through the same ritual of picking while carrying the plates to the table. I decided instead to admire the food and fantasize on what I will be eating first. Mmm I would love to have some pickles with this, a salad would go well with this… I sat down to the table fully ready to enjoy my meal, and I stopped. The feeling of desire, was as enjoyable as actually eating the meal, I wanted to keep it just a tad longer!
3. You eat quickly
Contrary to common belief, we actually eat faster when we don’t really enjoy the food or there is something else going on that we are trying hard not to notice. When I proposed to my clients to stop and ask themselves whether or not they really liked the food they are eating, one said she realized that “I thought I liked stuffed cabbages but the ones in front of me weren’t exactly good”, another realized “[I] was worried I wouldn’t like the food and disappoint my mum!” So the next time you notice you are eating a bit “too fast” stop and ask yourself whether you are really enjoying the food or you are hiding something from yourself.
4. You feel heavy
One of my favorite psychologists and the writer of “Mating in Captivity”, Ester Perel, when discussing desire in long-term relationships, says, “Fire needs air, and desire needs space”. In Chinese medicine, the element of fire is in the stomach, and the desire for the food is believed to stir up our digestive juices and kick our metabolism into start-up mode. Giving desire time to build your appetite towards the next meal may prevent the need for an antacid.
5. You are impatient
When I am not grounded in desire, I am usually not looking forward to anything and thus the current moment loses significance. You can’t stop yourself from finishing three packs of Oreo and a pack of sugarless chewing gum, if you are not used to the art of waiting. And desire in and of itself is the art of patience that breeds pleasure.
Many more questions may come up for you at this moment, but like all sensory matters, you cannot understand desire by reading about it in a book or an article. Look for it by engaging all your senses not only for your next meal, but with every encounter that you are scheduling next for your day. The more pleasure you start having, the closer you are to your goal of being free of emotional over-eating!
Ruba Homaidi is a certified holistic counselor and life coach based in Switzerland. She helps people realize their goals without the need to constantly push themselves, through understanding and putting in place, living, mental and spiritual habits that support and energize them.