Are you using food to fill the void? What are you really hungry for? Are you filling or feeling?

Many times we have the feeling that we are missing something in our lives, for example, attention, deep connections with others, pleasure, joy, fun moments, extreme emotions of any kind, adrenaline, dopamine rush, and more, so we turn to food as a way to filling this void. We all know that eating a chocolate cake when feeling anguish doesn’t satisfy that deep hunger for fulfillment.

 For years I have struggled with eating disorders of all kinds. I thought I was always hungry; I constantly snacked and ate before bed, and I always thought I needed to eat way more frequently than ordinary people. I always wondered how ordinary people eat their meals and then feel satisfied for a couple of hours. The problem was I couldn’t be with myself, not even for an hour of my day; I was eating out of boredom, nervousness, fear of being alone, and sadness. 

I came from the life of being a professional athlete, and when I quit my career, my life was completely empty. I was literally lost in the wilderness. I found myself at a point where I could shoot anywhere, but the question was, where do I shoot? Should I shoot, or should I stay still? I didn’t know what stillness meant, I was so afraid of stillness because all the emotions came to light, and I only felt the pain. I was sick and tired of the uncomfortable feeling of trying to find stillness in the uncertainty of life. 

Consequently, in the society of consumption that we live in, all the stimuli were eating me alive. I started traveling on the wrong path of fake satisfaction, filling myself up constantly until there was nothing else to try, and I found myself even more lost than before and with more symptoms and bad habits to attack. I was dead inside; I only knew how to cover the pain with instant pleasure by binge eating and then throwing up. I became an addict to binging, as by doing so, I got the dopamine rush I needed to feel good momentarily. Addiction is an attempt to escape from feeling the pain and emptiness that runs through a person’s core. I was killing myself softly and in silence. However, in the consumption society, we are only just a number, so the only thing you learn to do is to keep consuming! Even more in our current times, for my generation, where everything is taken to an extreme, and there’s so much about everything for everyone, it’s difficult to distinguish what suits me, my body, and my health.   

I saw myself in the mirror, and I was completely blind; I was inhabiting a body that I didn’t recognize as mine. I was destroying my sacred temple by numbing every emotion. I perceived life as the torture of the water drop that slowly falls on my head unceasingly till the end of times. The transit through this life, specifically as the word says, “transit,” the very word gave me anxiety. I was focused on goals and getting results, no matter the process. I only felt satisfaction when I knew I was getting somewhere, not in transit. I was constantly hoping to get to the things I thought would make me feel satisfied, but the reality is that we are continuously changing and evolving, and we never get anywhere. We are on an endless journey, perpetually going through a physical and mental metamorphosis. The finish line is a false illusion, like the big oasis in the middle of the vast dried desert. That finish line that the deluded think is satisfactory because it doesn’t exist.     

Nobody ever taught me to process my emotions; I was like a living-dead vampire. I had a switch in my brain, and I could turn off my feelings completely. I could not feel guilt, pain, and sadness; I couldn’t distinguish between what was good or wrong for me. I was like a vampire desperately craving to fill the void that never fills. I could shut off any emotions that ran through my body as if being hospitalized under anesthesia, but only I was alive and kicking. 

The good news is life is entirely the opposite; when I learned about the word process, a whole new world opened in front of my eyes. Bad habits come from focusing on goals and on getting to places. Processes are slow and steady, but it’s so relieving when you get the feeling. No tip, no nutritionist, no article, no experience, no single thing helped me with my eating disorders and bad habits with food. However, through coaching, I had to learn how to eat and care for my body in medical terms, but psychologically I had to start CONNECTING with my inner void. I began to journal what I ate and every emotion I had in my body. To be with ourselves, we must acknowledge what is happening inside our temple; if not, we start filling it with sweets and food to make it better and feel satisfied.

To create healthy habits, we must be willing to dive into the void and turn inwards. We have to face the sadness, pain, and shame that we have with our bodies if we want to improve our shape. If we want to improve, we have to face our feeling of self-worth and our habit of running away and escaping our emotions if we’re going to change our unhealthy patterns. So what helped me arise from the deepest hole was:

Write a “Thoughts” journal: Personally, I journal at night or when I finish my day to recall everything that happened in my mind that day. Here, I number every note as, for example, the first one, “Thoughts 01.” Firstly, on the thoughts note, we write everything that comes into our head that day, no matter the order, just things that came to our mind, how hungry I was, what kept us stressed, nervous, etc.
Write a “Feelings” journal: Secondly, on the feelings note, we write every emotion we can deduce from all the thoughts we wrote in the thoughts journal.  

Mental check-in: This is like checking in to a new place; it scans my brain and body to acknowledge my state before eating. It also helps in any situation, before going out, meeting people, having a meaningful conversation with someone, etc. All these acknowledgments remove the emotion from the action, so there is no reaction. No reaction in eating, no reaction in a conversation.

Whenever I heard somebody recommend me to write or journal my feelings, I was disgusted, hated writing, and was convinced that it would never help me. The day I started doing so, it changed my life entirely because writing slows the pace of our lives. It’s a moment you have for yourself at night before sleeping. Writing is very primal, and it connects us to ourselves. There’s no way of doing it right or wrong; it’s just your way of registering yourself. Writing is the cure for escapism; it allows us to acknowledge and dosage our intake.

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