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Food is not a fidget

If you've known me personally you have probably heard me talk about my odd food choices, the litany of things I don't like and won't eat. For decades, I chalked up my food issues to an odd quirk, but I've come to realize in recent years that my eating habits actually fall on the spectrum of disordered eating (which is different than an eating disorder).

Over the last several years I started paying attention to what I did with food when I was feeling anxious, overwhelmed, sad, frustrated, etc. Sure enough, food made a prominent appearance in my emotional struggles!  I never realized how much I relied on food for self-soothing.

My relationship with food has been a struggle, but one I was unknowingly down-playing. I found ways to manage it by bringing my own snacks and passing it off as "that silly quirk" of mine, or a "fun fact about me" that I could laugh about at social gatherings.

I have joked I could be a "grain-atarian" because I could live off of tortillas, gold fish, and all things salty and crunchy. I now understand these foods have always been a "go to" because they are... predictable. Surprisingly, it makes sense.

I have had to work hard to moderate what I refer to as my "gateway carbs." The ones that when I start consuming them, my brain's satiation valve seems to be stuck in the off position.

And while I will still probably never eat a pickle, I continue to work at making conscious healthy choices to eat vegetables and try new things.

As I have been continuing to redefine my relationship with food and get back on track in this new year with healthy habits, I thought of this: Food is for fuel (and also to enjoy, Ecclesiastes 9:7), but food was not meant to be a fidget, or something to soothe our emotional struggles, relationship problems, or any other difficult life experience.

It is classic for us as humans to terminate on the creation and miss the Creator who made the food, called it good, and who can heal the wounded heart in ways food never can.

If you're struggling with food today, hopefully these words will help. If you need more support around food issues, consider meeting with a registered dietician, an eating recovery coach, and a therapist who specializes in eating related concerns.

If you are out there battling something else big, something small but significant, or a lifelong struggle, just know this...

You are not alone. Therapy can and does help.

And if you needed a sign to take that step towards health and healing, whatever that step may be, consider this your sign.

- Carrie Breedlove MS, LPC, EMDR Certified

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