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Is food your frenemy?
Advice loving yourself more than food
Published Wednesday, March 19, 2014
by Sherrie Campbell PhD

Food can be the best friend that provides comfort when you are down or just need something to do because you are bored. Yet, moments of overindulgence can leave you consumed with feelings of guilt and self-loathing after you eat. If this cycles sounds familiar, you and food could be frenemies. 

This is no way to live, allowing something to have so much control over how you feel about yourself, and almost nothing can make us feel bad about ourselves more so than not liking our weight and appearance.

5 characteristics of a relationship with food as the frenemy:

1. Food feels great: It makes us feel good. When we eat, we are “feeling” something. We are busy, consumed and getting our neurochemistry spiked. Our bodies respond physically and emotionally when we eat.  Who doesn’t want to feel good?  Food is a quick fix to getting our mood elevated.

2. Food feels bad:  In the anticipation of eating and in the actual process of eating we are feeling great. We are happy, indulging and giving our souls a taste-sensation until our eating activity ends. Remorse sets in when we have had too much. We didn’t think about the fat content, we lost control and now we feel guilt and self-loathing.

3. Fat vs Full:  It is hard for many of us to tell the difference between fat and full.  When we feel full, we are often feeling fat and writhing in the discomfort of our recent eating adventure. We can’t stand ourselves, our loss of control, and we are full of regret and guilty feelings. We often blame the food and vow to change our act.

4. Balancing act:  After we over-indulge we convince ourselves if we exercise enough and don’t eat as much the next day or two, we could somehow delete the effects of over-eating. We often go to extremes in the other direction. It’s during this time that our self-esteem goes on an emotional roller coaster ride as we try to come to terms with our bad behavior.

5. Fat/thin crazy-making:  Our thoughts now cycle between fat and thin, fat and thin, to the point that we literally label our days with remarks like, “I am having a fat day.” On these days our insecurities get the best of us and we annoyingly ask everyone and anyone if we look fat. We get ourselves fat and then quickly obsess about thin again.  Now we’re Jekyll and Hyde with food, an inanimate entity, running our lives.

Making friends with food 

At some point, we have to make friends with food because we cannot survive without it. Any good friendship has a balance. Being in a “Jekyll and Hyde” type of relationship with food is no different than having an unhealthy relationship with a person. It runs your life. There is no balance and zero self-control.

In order to feel better about ourselves, we have to become they type of person we respect. In most regards, we all want to be considered a composed and well-put-together person in control of our lives. After all, self-control is sexy. Developing a healthy sense of self-love and self-control enable us to be around any stimulus and stay in control.  It simply comes down to having a commitment to being healthy and disciplined to stop eating when enough is enough.

When we are in a love-hate relationship with food we are actually in a love-hate relationship with ourselves. We cannot feel love for ourselves if we are buried under feelings of not having any control. When we are feeling fat, unattractive and full of guilt, nothing positive can enter our lives.

The way to make food your friend is to know your limits. Food should make you feel good about yourself, not bad. Learn to see the rewards in self-control and feeling healthy, physically and emotionally, rather than indulging in the temporary taste-sensation euphoria that will only lead to self-hatred later.

Sherrie Campbell PhD, author of “Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person,” a licensed psychologist with two decades of clinical training and experience providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She can be reached at sherriecampbellphd.com. 


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