Wellness Wednesday: Boundaries with Food

As with all relationships, my relationship with food requires boundaries. Most recently I was on a sugar bender for a couple days. I used to have sugar benders often - it was my way of coping with emotional discomfort. Particularly emotions like: anxiety, sadness or loneliness. As a result, I’d bake two dozen cookies and eat most of them, and if you were lucky enough to be my friend at the time, then I’d pawn off a bunch of cookies to you after two days of guilty cookie bingeing, making like it was a sweet (ha-ha) gesture from my heart. It was clear that I needed an intervention. That intervention led to boundary-setting with sugar.

It took weight gain, self-loathing, various manifestations of candida overgrowth, and introspection to realize that I needed to sit in the discomfort of my emotions in order to: 1) understand the source of my sugar cravings, and 2) know how to set boundaries with it that made sense. It also took a friend to suggest that I try to stop eating sugar for one week and to see how I feel. This appealed to my pitta dosha’s desire to be challenged. So I took the challenge.

What ended up happening was revelatory. I didn’t have crazy withdrawal symptoms like many people do. I didn’t have headaches or mood swings. I simply really craved sugar after meals and at random times throughout the day; which, therein laid the crux. My cravings throughout the day were spurned by boredom, anxiety, and restlessness that wanted to stay restless (aka vata dosha) instead of seeking grounding and stillness. But I wouldn’t have realized I needed stillness if I kept stimulating the restlessness. Ah, the irony.

I realized that if I simply sat with what I was feeling, like really took a few breaths, closed my eyes, and allowed myself to feel the emotions that needed to be felt, then I was doing myself a solid by listening, like a true friend would have. Instead of blatantly bulldozing (i.e. ignoring) my emotions by eating something sweet and distractingly satisfying, I allowed all of my attention to address the source of the craving, which had nothing to do with wanting sugar at all. It was my heart, which wanted attention, comfort, and true companionship.

So the moral of my story is that I needed to set boundaries with sugar in order to accomplish two things: 1) to stop gaining weight, stop self-loathing, and to stop having candida overgrowths, and 2) to have the clarity to address the true source of my pain and discomfort. Since then I’ve been practicing boundary-setting with other relationships in my life as well. Boundaries tell people what’s okay and what’s not okay. Boundaries help me exercise my true worth, my true work, and my true desires. Boundaries help me stay true to myself, and I hope they help you do the same.