Paulette had been coping with food and struggling with emotional eating from a young age. “I had been using food since I was six years old. I was raised in a dysfunctional family. In that sort of environment, a child does what she can to bring control and balance back into her life. I learned very early in life that there was comfort food that helped me survive.”
To add to her pain, she was ridiculed about her weight at school and by family members, and wasn’t allowed to eat what other kids ate. Paulette discovered dieting when she was 18, feeding a repetitive cycle. She tried numerous diets with “success” – for a while. “I knew there was something missing until I heard about emotional eating.” Paulette now recognizes that the guilt and shame were important drivers of her emotional eating cycle.
Listen as Paulette talks to Dr. Michelle May, founder of Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Programs and Training about her recovery from emotional eating.
“I read Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating cover to cover and I sat there and cried. Finally, somebody out there understands what’s going on in my body and my head.” She participated in an Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Emotional Eating and Binge Eating Retreat one year ago. “I’ve had so many breakthroughs!”
In addition to the self-care skills she is learning, Paulette says, “I can be a scientist and pay attention to how food affects my body.” She used to be a “perfectionist and rule-follower” but now, “I don’t have to follow rules anymore. I don’t beat myself up anymore. I’m learning my own body and I know that certain foods affect me differently. That is part of the process for me.”
Paulette has become gentle and compassionate with herself. “I don’t go backwards anymore. Sometimes it is baby steps, or one thing a day.” Mindfulness has also found its way into her work and her relationships.
Due to shame, Paulette has only recently begun to share her story. Now she hopes that her experience will help others take a step toward healing their relationship with food by attending a retreat and/or participating in a Mindful Eating for Binge Eating Program. “This program is too important to keep to myself.”
5 years later: Living a beautiful, vibrant, mindful life
An email from Paulette:
Since my conversation with Dr. May five years ago, my journey with mindful eating has led me in many directions. It reminds me of the small river that runs near my country home: Sometimes easy to ford, sometimes flooding out of its banks. Sometimes frozen over, sometimes flowing freely. Sometimes clear, sometimes murky. Always twisting, meandering, and moving.
Has the journey been easy? Of course not!
Understanding the why behind my relationship with food is taking time, persistence, patience, and lots of positive self-talk and gentle self-care. There have been times when I’ve run into invisible walls and needed help to move beyond them. I attended a second Mindful Eating for Emotional Eating and Binge Eating Retreat two years later and a virtual retreat a few years after that.
I also joined the online Mindful Eating Support Community. The community is a wonderful place for people on their healing journeys. In addition to all the benefits it offers, we offer each other validation, encouragement, and unconditional acceptance of who we are and where we are in the process. Connecting with my Support Community friends helps me reflect on issues as they surface and unravel more of my why.
Seven years ago, an Eat What You Love, Love What you Eat flyer came across my desk at work and changed my world! The sense of freedom I gained at my first Mindful Eating for Emotional Eating and Binge Eating Retreat grows as I continue to trust the process.
If someone asks me about my weight, I tell them, “My weight stabilized once I stopped dieting, but I am still a large, beautiful woman. The only way I could ever be thin is to starve myself, and I like myself too much to ever do that again.”
As I use my mindful tools and skills to heal my mind, body, spirit, and heart, I am able to live a beautiful, vibrant, mindful life.