Yo, found out some new stuff about eating for comfort today.
Long story short: when you eat to cover over the unhappiness you have while not eating, instead of searching for the root cause of the unhappiness, it’s self-abusive. The same is true for any consumption.
I went back to this issue because I still hadn’t resolved it, rather just figured that being happy and eating was more important than being self-abusive because of that eating, and thus, unhappy. I went back after a discussion I had with my independent study professor about Hansel and Gretel – I thought the story might hold a key to stopping eating for comfort in the addiction-level sense.
The trick I used was to, rather than force my “sweets-eater” to stop eating unhealthy foods, I just brought her to an imaginary land where there was an infinite number of sweets and no one there to stop her or criticize her. As soon as she got there she started digging tunnels with her teeth through imaginary cakes the size of cottages, completely blissful.
But something else was lurking there. A nasty little critter started to sweet-talk my sweets-eater, sympathizing with her plight and former persecution by those who wanted to force her to eat right. I wanted sweets-eater to just leave with me now that she had her fill, but instead she got caught up with this other creature, bandwagoning with such phrases as “Why CAN’T I eat indefinitely” (the creature, agreeing, said “yes, such limited thinking….”)
As soon as it seemed that sweets-eater was on its side, the nasty critter started to pour food down sweets-eater’s gullet. “Eat everything for me! EAT IT ALL!!” But sweets-eater could see this was unfair… she was already full. It turned out this critter valued the experience of eating food over any other possible experience, and sweets-eater could, by eating more, keep that experience coming as much as possible.
In the end, sweets-eater responded to this injustice by:
1) Arguing that it’s important to get to the root causes of unhappiness instead of this madness of covering up, and
2) Eating the critter. (While shouting “MY APPETITE IS BIGGER THAN YOURS!”)
This was quite a fun exercise, but it displays a powerful point about any addiction – that, while the experience may be pleasurable, the part of you that keeps it as self-abuse is relying on sensory experience to solve emotional issues. But this will never work, and never can. Emotional issues can only be resolved by bringing those emotions to the surface, letting them talk, and letting them come to some kind of resolution. So, what do you guys think? Happy eating first, then non-problem covering – does that solve all over-eating? It seems it is the giant’s leap back to healthy, but there may be more to it. Especially given how strong a force that deep unhappiness can be in any one of us.