What is it that you care about most in your life? Family? Career? Travel?
And what is at the core of those things that you care about –the value they represent?
For family, the value might be love. For career, the value might be excellence or service. For travel, the value might be beauty, exploration or even passion.
Spend a few minutes trying to name the specific values that are the most important to your heart, mind and spirit in this life.
Most of us never actually stop to consider what our personal core values actually are. When I ask my clients what values they believe in, they often tell me that they don’t really know. But that’s not exactly accurate. The truth is that some part of them knows perfectly well what they truly care about in life, and that part is usually trying like heck to get their attention through their imbalanced eating!
When someone struggles with a chronic eating issue – doesn’t matter what it is, compulsive eating, compulsive food restriction, compulsive dieting, etc – they have three choices. They can ignore it and hope it goes away, they can try to diagnose and cure it, or they can listen to what it might be trying to tell them
. The way we eat is a microcosm of the way we live our lives. When there is imbalance in our eating, nine times out of ten there is also an imbalance in our lives. Eating is not just a biochemical act. Eating is about nourishment on many different levels. If you open the door behind your imbalanced eating, it will tell you that something about the way you are currently living does not match your personal core value
s. Let me give you an example from my own life. I was always athletic growing up and never had a weight problem. After my pregnancies, though, I put on extra weight that I couldn’t shed even after both kids were weaned. Not a huge amount, but it was extra and I didn’t like it. Like everybody else, I had a biochemical and hormonal “story” going on that was partly responsible for the imbalance. But with the help of a gifted nutritional psychologist (who later became my teacher and mentor), I began to understand something deeper and more significant about my situation.
I had a very difficult childhood. For a lot of it my mom was on her own, working full-time and making her way through college with three not-so-easy kids. I was also subjected to both physical and sexual abuse. Highly sensitive by nature, these things blended together for me into a kind of soundtrack of general chaos for those years. Without really being aware of it, as an adult I tended to create islands of order and peace for myself, in nature, in artistic pursuits, even in my professional work. Going through pregnancy, birth, and baby boot camp, though, brought the chaos factor back into my life in spades.
Yes, I was eating foods that weren’t working for my body, but part of why I was choosing those foods and eating too much in general was because I couldn’t handle what I perceived as chaos coming back into my life. Through my coaching, it became really obvious that peace and balance were core personal values for me. When I understood that, I began a long-term quest to both increase my tolerance for the natural chaos of family living, and to consciously create more peace and balance in areas that I could control. Behind the door of my overeating was a gap in my life between the chaos of my life situation and the peace that I valued so highly.
If your eating is imbalanced, chances are there is at least one area of your life that is out of harmony with your core values. It may be quite obvious, or it may take a deeper exploration to open the door, but it is there. One simple way that you can minimize these types of imbalances moving forward is to get very clear about your top two or three most important values in life. Once you know what they are, every single time you need to make a big decision, ask yourself if it will increase the ______ in your life, in the lives of your loved ones, or in the lives of others. If the answer is yes, then you can most likely make it work, no matter how challenging it may look.
If the answer is no, why would you choose to do it? If you do make a decision that goes against your core values, don’t be at all surprised if your eating starts getting wonky. But don’t worry, if it’s really important, you’ll get another chance to make a more harmonious decision because your bodymind will probably get louder and louder in its calls to get you to listen up and honor what is truly important to you.
That “problem” with your eating you’re trying to fix?
It just might end up being your greatest gift.