If you are looking for how to stop your fear of food, you are in the right place. A fear of food can feel absolutely paralyzing, like you are sleeping with the enemy every day.
Many fear food for various reasons, top reasons being fear of weight gain, fear of losing control, fear of giving into cravings, fear of messing up and making mistakes which are followed by a lovely handful of guilt, shame, judgment, failure, take your pick…
Unfortunately, we MUST eat food to live. We cannot practice abstinence with food as we can with other substances such as alcohol (otherwise we all know what happens).
To stop your fear of food, changing your relationship with food from being the enemy to food being nourishing is vital. What? How?! I know that sounds scary, maybe even impossible. However, I promise you CAN make this change!
Overcome Fear of Food with Pleasure...
One of the most effective ways to stop fear of food is through creating new paradigm shifts surrounding your relationship between pleasure and food. Our relationship with pleasure profoundly informs the health of our relationship with food and the health of our body and is present at the most fundamental architecture of our physiology, and yet again, many people with food and body challenges fear pleasure.
We often believe that pleasure from an eating experience is “bad” because of past overeating or binge eating experiences on some of our favorite foods. We think more pleasure with food will make us want to eat more! We also might believe that if we experience pleasure with eating, we’ll never want to stop. A toxic belief system is created:
Pleasure = Loss of Control = Weight Gain
Food easily becomes the enemy, appetite becomes the enemy, and when it comes time for meal time, we don’t want to have anything to do with it. We eat quickly to get it over with, we try to justify ways to eat as little or as less often as possible to avoid such fear and pain around food. We restrict, count, and begin to focus on an analytical goal and not the journey, and therefore continue to suffer in disordered eating, body hate, self-judgement, and obsessions around food. Without pleasure, eating becomes empty and meaningless for SO many…
Resisting pleasure at meal times it is inherently stressful to the body and will indeed generate some degree of a physiologic stress. It is like resisting your urge to use the bathroom, you resist that urge you’re going to find yourself pretty physiologically stressed too! So not only do you have problem A: fear of food, but now this has created problem B: stressed state eating.
Stressed state eating is your enemy when it comes to weight loss, cravings, and overall well-being. Stress shifts your body into sympathetic nervous system dominance, the same “fight or flight” state you would be in if you were being chased by a tiger lurking in the woods. Why does this matter?
Stress literally increases your cortisol and insulin, which tells your body to stop building muscle and losing weight because it’s now on alert. It decreases your metabolism to save energy for potential tough times ahead. It deregulates your appetite which interrupts your ability to know when, what, and how much to eat leaving you dependent on numbers, apps, and meal plans. Stress state eating also causes nutrient excretion which means you no longer are able to assimilate or digest nutrients at full capacity because your brain is stressed about a potential threat which leaves your brain and body to be dissatisfied and call for MORE food because it feels deprived.
Stress Also Desensitizes Your Feeling Of Pleasure!
Feeling alert and fearful all the time around something in our mind kinda sucks, who would want to continue to keep up with that relationship? Exactly. This makes sticking to your analytically, pleasure-absent daily eating regimen virtually impossible and will never be a long-term game plan for you.
When you welcome pleasure at a meal, you’ll feel it all over your body, your body will feel complete and say “aaaaah, thank you! I’m finished.” You’ll feel more satisfied with less food, you’ll crave less food between meals, your metabolism and digestion will be optimal, and you’ll experience less overeating or binge eating episodes and in the best position possible to find and sustain your natural weight. Overtime, this will help you welcome more pleasure and intention at meal time and help you relax more around food.
When something is truly, soul feeding pleasurable, it is easier to naturally want to continue to do it! The brain is programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Every organism on the planet is designed this way. Pleasure is not something frivolous. It’s a literal psycho-physiological need. With a deficiency in pleasure, the body becomes even more hungry, more ravenous. Pleasure is SO important to eating that it’s commonly referred to as Vitamin P, and YOUR BFF when it comes to stopping your fear around food.
It makes sense that food is literally designed to give us this psycho-physiologic need called pleasure, why? So you eat and don’t die. Period. To survive, pleasure from food is very important to our brain and body and requires it! Same with procreation, intercourse is pleasurable so you procreate and we don’t die as a species. It lives in our physiology and our inner, personal world. To deny pleasure is denying our most innate needs as humans.
Now, I’m not talking about being a pleasure junkie, we can’t all go around eating chocolate all day every day. Pleasure requires wisdom and maturity, explore it and understand it, and learn to say yes AND no to pleasure.
To further drive home the importance of pleasure, let’s talk about something called…
Cephalic Phase Digestion Response (CPDR)
If you struggle with overeating and believe you have a willpower problem with food, you don’t. Willpower has absolutely nothing to do with overeating. The problem is actually that you don’t really eat when you eat.
There’s something scientists call CPDR – the Cephalic Phase Digestive Response. This is a fancy term for taste, pleasure, aroma, satisfaction, and your visuals of a meal. “Cephalic” means “of the head,” so this term really describes the “head phase” of digestion – everything that happens in your brain to help metabolize a meal.
It just so happens that the sum total of all the research on the cephalic phase digestive response shows that approximately…
40-60% Of Your Digestive, Assimilative, Calorie Burning Power At Any Meal Comes From Pleasure or “Head Phase of Digestion”
Thats taste, pleasure, aroma, satisfaction, and your visuals of a meal. So, if you do the simple math, if we miss this phase – meaning we don’t pay attention to the meal, or we eat too fast, or eat under stress, or multi-task while eating all of which interrupt our ability to receive pleasure at full capacity– we are metabolizing our meal at only 40-60% efficiency. That’s actually a pretty astounding fact!
What’s even more important, if we miss the experience of taste, pleasure, satisfaction, etc. – the brain interprets this missed experience as HUNGER. In other words, if you rushed through a meal and failed to notice it for whatever your reason, the brain isn’t smart enough to say, “Hey, you were in a rush and not paying attention to your food.” The brain simply says “Hungry.”
We are literally physiologically driven to eat more even if we’ve eaten a huge meal. The brain has commanded us to eat because it didn’t get what it needed – the eating experience.
If you’re a fast eater, you rush through meals, you work while eating, and you don’t pay attention to the food because you fear it, hate it, or simply don’t care, that’s the problem. Your solution then is really about relaxing, slowing down, taking time, and nourishing yourself.
Aim to Feel Better AFTER the Meal Than Before You Started.
Then, and only then, will your appetite be naturally regulated and satisfied.
The Bottom Line...
Eating is inherently pleasurable and we must make friends with it if you want to stop your fear of food. Now you know IT’S OK TO FIND PLEASURE FROM FOOD. (Deep breath)…An empowered relationship with pleasure will help create a healthy relationship with food and body and will bring you to your most natural metabolism, and puts you in the best position to reduce your overeating, binge eating, and meaningless eating experiences that feed the yo-yo dieting cycles. By getting you off of the stress-inducing dieting roller coaster and back into real eating, real nourishment, your body can begin to find its true, natural weight and a restored, nourishing relationship with food. And most importantly, get out of head around food and back into your life!