RelateKC Blog

  • Food is a Drug Too!

    I was at a conference today in the Ozarks and we were discussing attachment.  In previous WLBC cycles I've written about the human need for "connection".  I was reminded today at this event of that need once again.  Here were a bunch of adults - discussing disconnection - abandonment and breached attachment - and how this is the catalyst of developmental trauma.  We were asked to meditate.  We were asked to share vulnerability with one another - what we were mourning and what we were grateful for.  And many many people were very very uncomfortable. Not surprisingly they, like the rest of us, needed to do something with their pain, with their vulnerability.  They didn't want to share it.  They didn't want to feel it.  Because you see, even clinicians, have avoidance tendencies - especially if they haven't done any of their own therapy.  Alone with their pain - in a room full of "strangers" they reached for CONNECTION.  In its easiest - most tangible form: F  O  O  D.

    Out came the cookies!  Out came the cakes!  Out came the coffee (caffeine-another connection!).  How timely!  Whew!  And they ate.  And ate.  Many of them making second trips to the dessert table.  And nobody said anything about it.  

    Here we were - the instructor directing our discussion to teenagers and their need for horizontal connection (connection to peers, music, icons, drugs, alcohol) because of the lack of vertical connection (parental/mentor) and the audience ate away its own anxiety about the conversation. 

    You see FOOD is often left out of the drug conversation.  It is considered, by our society, to be an acceptable and "good" way of dealing with life's disappointments.  It's so accepted that we aren't even aware of our own eating habits.  Of our triggers.  And suddenly we feel ashamed of the way we look in a bathing suit.  And we have now created a secondary problem for ourselves.  Weight gain.  When the original problem started with a painful emotion, a memory of a terrifying event.  That was the primary problem that got a little out of hand.  So now we focus all of our attention on the secondary problem.  Losing weight.  And we sign up for bootcamps and we go on diets and we withhold and shame and shame and withhold.  And we end up losing some weight!  Woo Hoo!  And we feel proud and we feel relieved because we have told ourselves that the "problem" is how we look, is the weight we've put on.  But underneath, remains that pain, that terror, that loss which we still haven't quite dealt with.  And so when bootcamp ends and we feel a loss of connection again because we aren't connected to that group anymore, to that regimen, we go hunting for something else to connect to...and if we've eliminated food (maybe we return back to food) (maybe we're even managing to keep the weight we lost off) we find something else.  Maybe it's gambling.  Maybe it's shopping.  Maybe it's codependency in relationship.  And we lose ourselves to another horizontal connection.  Further and further off track.  

    Perhaps many of you have seen the NY Times article on the weight gain of The Biggest Loser winners.  If not, here is a link:

    90% of people who lose a significant amount of weight, gain it back within the first 2 years.  

    What is the missing link here?  

    If you've explored and connected to everything but yourself.  If you're considering weight loss surgery.  If you're tired of feeling like your own worst enemy, it might be time to risk getting vulnerable.  To connecting with yourself and not trying to push any feeling, any memory, any thought away.  Maybe the real work is in acceptance and integration.  In naming the fear. Calling it out.  And sitting with it.  Connect with yourself.  Connect with human beings deserving of you.  Bring back your awareness.  

    Be curious.  Be brave.  Be YOU!