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I don’t know about you but everything in my life seems to be revolved around food! Whenever I meet up with friends – I eat, whenever I feel sad I eat, or when I sit in front of the TV – I eat, in fact, I’m constantly eating!
It seems I’m not alone, food companies are constantly looking to make a connection between food and emotion, as food seems to do more than nourish us; it fills an emptiness, gives us comfort, and even cheers us up. “Emotional Eating” can be caused by anything from work stress to financial worries, or relationship struggles.
So I decided to call on Lucy Power and find out how why I was eating mindlessly and how I can put an end to this bad practise.
Lucy’s life has gone from feeling pretty much beyond her control, to deeply enjoyed and appreciated. After her first marriage broke down, she was left feeling broken and bewildered, but it left her with a knowing that she needed to understand her unconscious drives, take responsibility and make sure she never again got so low and powerless.
So, Lucy got some great psychotherapy and some excellent coaching and soon started to pick through the beliefs she was holding about herself and the world, and as a consequence, she started to make some changes. Lucy got stuck into two MScs in Transactional Analysis (one for psychotherapy and one for organisations and groups,) qualified as a coach and set up her own coaching, training and team resolution company.
Lucy now spends her time with people she loves and doing things which bring her deep contentment and joy and puts this all down to her heightened self-awareness and her newly learned ability to connect with herself, and to others in a true and intimate way.
Lucy has just launched her first coaching programme Eating Our Feelings so I decided to talk to her and find out a bit more about it.
“Eating Our Feelings” sounds very interesting, what inspired you to do it?
I have lived for most of my life on the rollercoaster we can all get stuck on around overeating, emotional eating and meeting needs that are not about physical hunger with food, bingeing, treating ourselves as if we don’t matter and then dieting in a super restrictive and inhibitive way that feels good in some ways and like punishment in others.
And then repeat.
And then repeat.
I understood that when we put ourselves on a diet to lose weight, we hand over control and responsibility for our eating to an ‘expert’, we look to them to tell us what to eat, how much to eat and what not to eat. This is an awful, obsessive, limiting way to live which strips all of the joy out being ourselves, gives away our autonomy and our right to be who we are.
According to Transactional Analysis, when we seek out a ‘parent’ in this way outside of ourselves, we are living from the reality we dealt with when we were children. We are therefore seeking to replay the very dynamic which got us as we are right now.
I chose to end this for myself using all I know about coaching and about Transactional Analysis and in successfully doing this I realised I could help others too, other women who are locked into this unhealthy revolving door which involves treating ourselves very badly, ignoring our real needs and hungers and living a really isolated life in so many ways.
I designed a ten-week learning and coaching programme to help others who feel trapped in the ups and downs of the feast and famine cycle or the treating and punishment rollercoaster.
The programme uses key pieces of Transactional Analysis theory as well as coaching skills and tools to help people to understand and re-decide their early decisions about what they deserve, who they are and can be, what they are allowed, how important they are and so much more. I am very proud of this programme and I know it will help many people.
Eating our feelings is a great name, do we often suppress our Feelings with Food?
We do. I believe we suppress our feelings with food for sure; we eat to stop feeling and then we buckle up and go and face the difficulties we have to live through. And we also do something else with food that we don’t so readily realise and understand; we meet our needs with it, all of our needs.
Eric Berne, the originator of TA said that we have six pangs of hunger:
- contact hunger is our need for touch, we starve emotionally and fail to thrive if we are denied this
- incident hunger is our desire for events which give us something to focus on and something hunger ensures are seen, heard, felt, known
- stimulus hunger is that for anything which raises our physical or psychological temperature, where all of our senses are engaged
- structure hunger gives us order, regulates our focus and allows us to manage how we show up to others
- sexual or passion hunger leads us toward belonging and closeness and to relational fulfilment.
My understanding of how many of us use food is to meet or cover these needs, these pangs of hunger. I believe we were taught to do this when we were very small. And that we become confused within the lifelong process of this about what we are even hungry for. We also don’t allow ourselves to feel important enough to connect with our right to have all of our pangs of hunger met, and so we use food and we leave it at that.
A lot of women are comforted by food, why is this?
Again, we have turned the food into something it is not. We use it as a currency for love, contact, incident, instead of sex, instead of being truly known. So when we eat, for those short few minutes, we believe we are known, loved, important and all of the things we actually struggle to know.
Also, there is a physiological process whereby we are given endorphins by eating some foods and so we become dependent on them to feel good when usually we do not.
Why don’t diets work?
Because in ‘going on a diet’ we are externalising our locus of control. We are outsourcing something that we can do well and instinctively ourselves.
In dieting, we are further stepping away from our hunger cues. And therefore, we are stepping away from (or abandoning) ourselves just as those big people did when they too fed us when we actually needed another of our pangs of hunger satiating. Also, in dieting, we are treating only the symptom of our eating (the overweight) and never the causes.
My programme leads us gently through our own process around our eating and out of the other side toward an autonomous, actively chosen and ultimately healthy relationship with ourselves.
What causes us to overeat?
I believe we overeat because of a learned response to ourselves which includes not feeling our feelings or responding to them appropriately, turning away from what we are truly hungry for because we have decided that we do not deserve or can not have it, and sometimes because we feel a feeling which was forbidden in our families when we were little.
What will the course help with?
This programme will help you to get to know yourself in a way you never have, it will help you to understand early decisions you made about yourself and the way you meet your needs, it will address your sense of belonging and importance in your world and it will show you how to make new decisions which will leave you firmly on your own side, meeting all of your needs in ways that serve you well.
So many women look after everyone else and forget about themselves, will this course help with women’s self-care?
Yes! This is absolutely true. I find many of us who have struggled around food have ‘be strong’ and ‘please others’ drivers (a piece of TA theory you will learn on the programme). Both of these drivers leave you depleted, exhausted, unseen, lonely, hiding your true self and ignoring your true needs.
This programme will help you to understand and change your thinking, feeling and behaviours around the way you show up in the world. You will meet your needs well and with great love. You will learn to put your own oxygen mask on first.
Who would this course be suitable for?
Eating Our Feelings will strongly support any woman who feels like now is her time to reclaim herself from all of the different ways she has learned to abandon herself; either not to feel, not to be important, not to shine like the star she is.
Eating Our Feelings will help you if you use food in any way other than to satisfy physical hunger.
Over the ten weeks, you’ll get a weekly interactive workbook which will guide you gently and supportively through all of the ways you are showing up for yourself just as others did for you when you were small. You will learn new ways to do this, healthier ways, ways which will leave you losing the weight you carry, stepping toward your truest self and feeling good about being you. You will also get two ninety-minute coaching sessions with me which will help you to dig deep into your learning and your responses to the programme, cementing the changes you make over the programme.
To learn more about what is included and to sign up to the course you can click here.