If you’ve struggled with your weight for a very long time, the solution probably lies not in finding the right diet or exercise. Been there, done that, right? Unless medical concerns affect your weight, chances are you’re using food to quell your feelings. If you can relate to this, have faith. Nourish your mind and body with a diet of forgiveness and release your pain along with the pounds.
While seemingly unrelated on the surface, a lack of forgiveness for self and others is sometimes related to emotional eating and to achieving permanent weight loss. Here’s why:
When you’re struggling with energy draining emotions of guilt, shame, anger and resentment, it’s important to acknowledge these feelings and find ways to safely experience and release them. The problem comes from never letting them go and using food to cope. When they build up for a long time, they stay stored in your body. As you carry the weight of heavy feelings in your heart, you carry the weight of excess pounds on your body.
Forgiveness calms your emotions, releases anger from your mind and body, and transforms resentment into acceptance. You literally lighten your mind and body with a calming energy that sets you free. For example, when you forgive yourself for overeating, overeating claims less power over you. This helps you stop the cycle because self-forgiveness eliminates guilt and shame that perpetuate emotional eating. When you forgive others, you emotionally free yourself from them and their behavior. You no longer feel triggered because you stop ruminating about what hurt you.
Charlene struggled with emotional eating for many years. It intensified during her difficult divorce and she gained weight in the process. Filled with anger and resentment, contact with her ex-husband often prompted an impulsive urge to overeat. She felt guilty after binging and blamed him for her behavior, often saying, “He makes me so mad I can’t help myself!”
Charlene initially recoiled at my suggestion to forgive her ex-husband. While she knew there was a connection between reacting to her ex-husband and overeating, she wanted tools to stop her behavior. While coping strategies helped, they only addressed what was happening on the surface. Opening her heart to forgiveness helped Charlene on a deeper level and offered a lasting solution.
While Charlene still feels triggered at times, food no longer holds the power it once did. “I didn’t speak with my ex-husband directly, but after I forgave him in my heart, I felt free. I then realized I needed to forgive others from my past. When I was a child, food was the only way I knew how to deal with anger and sadness. Now that I see the freedom in forgiveness, I want to be a more forgiving person and stop hurting myself with food. Living a healthy lifestyle is easier now. And I’m finally losing weight in the process.”
How to Forgive
Forgiveness doesn’t always come easily, especially in a society often intent on revenge. It may feel hard at first and it takes time, but you can become a more forgiving person simply by being willing to be so. It takes commitment and persistence. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you excuse others’ bad behavior or that you stop taking responsibility for your own. Forgiveness is about your state of mind and heart. It’s a gift to others, but mostly, it’s the gift of inner peace to yourself.
Here’s a simple release and forgiveness affirmation to help with emotional eating.
When you’re upset with someone and you feel the urge to eat, pause for a few moments, breathe and say to yourself or write down, “I release these feelings (or, this anger, resentment, etc.) and choose to no longer hold onto this pain. I release this for my highest good as I forgive _____(specific person) or, all involved in this situation, and allow the healing power of forgiveness to soothe my heart.” Even if it doesn’t seem to make a difference right away, you’re creating space between the urge to eat and eating. Adding forgiveness to this space helps liberate you to make a different choice.