Could Speaking Up Help You Get Sane About Food?

I was talking to a friend a few weeks back about the mutual experience of eating instead of speaking up or using our voices. This idea is something that came up a lot for me when I was doing a lot of recovery work. Using my voice, asserting myself, and saying how I feel or what I need is something I struggle with in general—and I have come to recognize it as something tied up with some of my food and body issues.

I suppose it makes some sense. Food is often an easy thing to grab to quiet down the unpleasant feelings that come along with not saying what I need or want to. But overeating in order to push down feelings of not honoring myself by speaking up is further self-destruction and self-betrayal. It’s a cycle that doesn’t feel good at all.

In the end this doesn’t make anything better—I haven’t said what I need to say, AND I’ve just eaten perhaps something I didn’t really need or want.

After a fair amount of journaling and some support group talk I could see that sometimes my eating habits were a direct result of me not speaking up (even in very, surprisingly little ways, i.e. “Hey, I was actually in line first!”). I realized that I was sometimes asserting myself through my eating, but when that happens the only person I am truly hurting (or asserting in a backwards way) is myself. Eating isn’t communicating anything to anyone else, only further dis-empowering myself and my voice. It’s a tough spot to be in, but one that I think might be relatively common.

I think that the biggest thing for me was recognizing this as a pattern so that I can be proactive and learn how to react differently than I might initially settle with. The thing that was important for me to work on was getting more comfortable and confident using my voice and speaking up (which I must say, isn’t always easy, but highly necessary!). It takes practice (for everyone!) and is something that I continue to work on everyday to make sure that I honor myself and SPEAK UP! It’s sooo important and I didn’t realize, until after, how closely it was tied to a lot of my food and body stuff.

Do you ever find yourself eating instead of using your voice? —Morgan

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7 Responses to Could Speaking Up Help You Get Sane About Food?

  1. Jennifer says:

    I am not usually one to leave comments on blogs, I’m more the quiet reader type, but your post caught my attention. I have recently moved to a new city and have been going out alot meeting new people and straying from my quiet reflective lifestyle. It has been fun, but I now find myself with more negative talk and emotional eating because some areas of my life are not going how I had originally planned. Your post has reminded me to focus on myself and not to let things that are beyond my control act as a trigger to eat. Thank you

  2. Angie says:

    Yes, speaking up helps me stay sane about food. I know I’m not speaking up / feeling overwhelmed when I want to binge / escape with food. I try to remember that whether I binge or not, reality is the same and I have to eventually deal with it. If I binge, that is just one more thing I have to deal with. That said, it’s not easy. I struggle and find great hope / encouragement from this site! Thanks to all for the posts/comments. Angie

  3. kristin fritts says:

    i can truly identify w/this concept. i am home, by myself, for all but 2 hours a day, 6 days a week & I find myself just eating w/out even remembering taking the food out of the fridge or the cabinet. I have so man target foods that I can’t even begin to count them anymore.

  4. Beth says:

    What a serendipitously-timed post. I had a mini-revelation about this like two days ago. I realized that binges were literally the only moments in my busy life when i truly got what i wanted, instead of deferring to others needs or wishes.

    For me at least, I think it’s often about standing up to expectations. This could mean societal expectations to look or act or achieve on a certain way, or even my friends expectations that i’ll make time for them. Compared with someone who cuts me off in line, these are more subtle. But at the end of the day, i make them my expectations of myself, even though i did not choose them. So I’m working on standing up to other’s expectations, letting my voice be heard and taking the pressure of my poor self. Thanks for the great post!

  5. Emily says:

    This is also a very timely post for me, too. I’ve had a lot of trouble asserting myself at my very stressful job lately, and though I had been in a good place with food and exercise, I just spent the past three days in various stages of binge eating and purging.

    One of the best things I’ve learned in therapy is that often I don’t assert myself because I don’t trust my instincts (my gut!) to be right in challenging situations. The similarities to food are astounding. I don’t trust my body (my gut!) so I restrict calories and then binge and don’t eat according to what my body is actually feeling. I think there must be a connection between intellectually short-circuiting my gut instincts and physically short-circuiting my actual gut.

    It’s hard for me to confront others, stand up for myself and say no - and my job requires significant amounts of all three. (Which makes me think that maybe I’m in the wrong job if I’m trying to simultaneously recover from ED!)

    The other thing I’ve noticed is that when I don’t assert myself or draw solid boundaries, my negative self-talk and fantasy-living increase dramatically. If I look back at my journal entries for the past few days, I notice that I write a lot about feeling incapable, incompetent, uninspired and unhappy instead of focusing on the things I love about my job and completing individual tasks.

    So I realize that’s a long comment, but I wanted to say thank you for the reminder - it’s an incredibly important part of my recovery.

  6. [...] to have a real conversation and SPEAK UP! It felt particularly good because in the past, I might have avoided this, and it would have most likely lead to me bingeing or emotionally eating to get rid of all the uncomfortable feelings that come along with this. Also, knowing that I [...]

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