The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 55: Sugar, Emotional Eating and Body Image
Elizabeth is in her 50s and has been dealing with binge eating and body image concerns since she was 13 years old. Additionally, she has a big weakness for sugar. When she’s not eating sugar, she feels as if she is at her best. But when her emotions get the better of her, sugar is the first thing she turns to. Elizabeth readily admits that despite having 4 children plus grand kids, her whole life seems to revolve around food and wanting to lose weight. Tune in to this fascinating podcast session as Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating helps Elizabeth identify the core challenge at the heart of her body and weight concerns, and helps her see how her extreme sensitivity and empathic tendencies can be finally used to her advantage.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Marc: Welcome, everybody! I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. And here we are in the Psychology of Eating podcast. I’m here with Elizabeth. Welcome, Elizabeth!
Elizabeth: Hi, Marc.
Marc: I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad we’re doing this.
Elizabeth: I’m glad, too, very glad.
Marc: And for people who are tuning in for the first time, let me tell you what we’re doing here in the Psychology of Eating podcast. So the way we have this set up is we’re going to have a session together. And Elizabeth and I are going to work on whatever she wants to work on in terms of food, body, and health. And we’re going to try to take six months to a year’s worth of coaching and squeeze it into one approximately hour-long session that we’re going to do together here.
And the idea is to fast track things and help you get some openings and help you get some breakthroughs and get some insights and just kind of get you further along the way to where you want to go. So I’m going to be asking you, Elizabeth, a bunch of questions. I’ll probably bounce all over the place. And you’ll be thinking to yourself, “Why is this guy bouncing all over the place?” But there is a method to that, for sure.
So I’ll ask you this question. If you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you wanted to out of this session, what would that be?
Elizabeth: I think more of an understanding of why I do what I do regarding the food and perhaps… I’m in my fifties. And I’ve had this problem since I was thirteen. And I’ve always had a body image and self-esteem issues. I just feel like I’m a woman in my fifties. I should be over all that by now. But I’m not. And I’d love some answers in that way.
Marc: Yeah. I don’t blame you. Let’s see if we can do something about that. So you said, “I want to understand why I do what I do with food.” What do you do? Other than the body image kind of stuff, what happens with food for you?
Elizabeth: Well, binge eating. I don’t do it nearly as much as I used to. And I don’t beat myself up nearly as much as I used to. So they’re two good things. But I still do it from time to time. And I’d just love to not do it.
Marc: How often do you do it, would you say?
Elizabeth: Well, these days probably maybe once a month or once every few weeks.
Marc: So once a month or once every few weeks. And other than that, are you satisfied with your eating and satisfied with what you do with food?
Elizabeth: Yes. I assume that I am.
Marc: So what might a binge look like for you?
Elizabeth: Well, it would always start with me getting triggered by sugar. And it might be that I allow myself to have some sugar, thinking, “This is going to do you in.” But I’ll do it anyway. And once it’s in my system, I just seem to want more and more of it. It could be a couple of chocolate bars and a couple of ice creams and three or four or five or six things, one after the other until I just literally feel sick and don’t want to eat anymore, but then realize what I’ve done.
Marc: So you could eat a bunch of sugar. You could eat a bunch of food. And all of a sudden you’re looking at yourself going, “Wow. I didn’t stop myself. And look at all that.” Okay, so it’s once every couple weeks, maybe once a month.
And in terms of the body image stuff, how long has that been like that for you where you’ve been dissatisfied.
Elizabeth: It feels like forever. I think probably from when I was about thirteen.
Marc: And what do you remember thinking back then? Do you remember the first time that you thought something?
Elizabeth: No. I just never felt good enough amongst my peers at school. I always felt like I wasn’t thin enough, wasn’t pretty enough, didn’t have a boyfriend when they had boyfriends, didn’t have the trendy clothes, all those sorts of issues. And I’m the youngest in a family of five. And there just wasn’t money for all the extra special things.
And I’m also a person that needs a lot of affection and praise, if you like. And I didn’t get a lot of that growing up. [voice breaks] So I think that’s big. [sobs]
Marc: Yeah. I’m sorry, especially being the fifth kid and the last one out the chute, there’s usually not a lot left sometimes with parents and when you’re the youngest. Thanks for being so open. And thanks for being so honest about that. I know that’s not easy.
So that’s been a long journey for you.
Elizabeth: Mmm hmm.
Marc: Yeah. And when are the times that you feel best about your body?
Elizabeth: I don’t know the answer to that, I don’t think. When I’m dressed up, ready to go out somewhere or if I’m feeling good and I think I look okay, probably then.
Marc: Are your parents still alive?
Elizabeth: No. I lost my dad twenty years ago and my mother last year. I was really close to my mother. In fact, she lived with us for twenty-one years. So that’s been really hard.
Marc: It’s a sort of like you’re an orphan now when both parents died. I know that feeling. All of a sudden, we kind of realize that were mortal. And we don’t have our parents anymore.
Elizabeth: Yeah, exactly.
Marc: Yeah. It’s a strange transition to make inside oneself for sure. How was your mom’s relationship with her body?
Elizabeth: Not too bad, actually. Well, she had osteoporosis. So she had kyphosis of the spine. You know, you get that hump. So that worried her in the last twenty years, I suppose. It annoyed her that she had that. But she was nothing like me, as in I don’t think she had huge issues. She did have an alcohol issue, actually. Not so much in her latter years, but when young. So that, I know, had a big bearing on me, as well.
Marc: And are you married?
Marc: How long have you been married?
Elizabeth: Happily married for thirty-seven years.
Elizabeth: A long time.
Elizabeth: I’ve got four sons and four grandchildren.
Marc: Wow! You’re a busy lady!
Elizabeth: Yeah, busy.
Marc: So do you see them all? Are they part of your daily and weekly life?
Elizabeth: Yeah, we try and have a family dinner at least once a fortnight. We’re all very close, which is great.
Marc: And how does your husband feel about your body?
Elizabeth: He loves me. He’s fine with it.
Marc: Oh, you poor woman. That’s terrible! [chuckles]
Elizabeth: [Laughs heartily] I know! It’s so stupid, isn’t it?!
Elizabeth: It’s so stupid!
Elizabeth: I know that. The intelligence part of me knows that. But then there’s this other little part that’s just never happy.
Marc: I get it. I get it. So you’ve been married thirty-seven years. And four boys, that must have been fun, being a mom of four boys, four grandkids, a husband who loves you. He’s happy with your body. He’s just probably happy—I’m going to go into guy world here and just kind of guests—he’s just probably happy when he’s getting enough touch and sex and intimacy. And he’s not sitting there judging you and wishing you were something else.
Elizabeth: Yeah. That’s right.
Marc: Men are very simple in that way. I’ve got to tell you. So I want to ask you this question again. Are there times when you notice that you feel okay with your body or you just don’t notice the chatter that’s negative about, “Oh, I look like this. I look like that. I should look like this or that.”
Elizabeth: Sometimes, I suppose. But my whole life seems to revolve around food. And I’m trying to eat healthy. I know a reasonable amount about nutrition. And I’ve always home cooked everything. We ate very little junk food. So my whole life seems to revolve around food and to me wanting to lose weight.
And I look at photos of myself from years ago when I thought I was too overweight. I look at those photos now and think, “I just want to be like that again.” You know? It’s a silly. I know I need to work on trying to love myself more. And I have been trying to do that. But my weight is not shifting and I’m a bit stumped at the moment. I know I’ve done a lot of emotional eating over mom. But I’m trying to get past that now. It’s nearly her one-year anniversary. And I’m trying to tell myself what she’d tell me and just get on with it.
Marc: And how much weight do you want to lose?
Elizabeth: Well, I’d love to lose twenty kilos. But I’d be happy with ten.
Marc: Okay, so when as the last time you were ten to twenty kilos less?
Elizabeth: Only about two years ago.
Marc: And how did you get there?
Elizabeth: I always had the binging thing. But I would binge, diet, binge, diet, binge, diet. And I don’t diet anymore. And I don’t want to diet anymore. But I would like to be around ten kilos less.
Marc: And if you were ten or even twenty kilos less, who would you be? How would you be different? So if I could wave my magic wand and all the sudden, boom, you got what you wished for. Tell me how would life be different? Would you be? I want to know…
Elizabeth: Well, I feel like a bit of a blob at the moment. I know that I’m getting up to my top weight from years ago. And I just feel I’m not moving as well as I was. As I’ve got issues with tendinitis in both hips. My knees, as well, just a slight bit of arthritis in both knees. All that would be helped if I could just drop a few kilos.
Marc: So you’d feel a little healthier. You would have less pain. What else? What else would be different? Because I’m sure when you were thirteen years old and you wanted a different body, you weren’t worried about your knees.
Elizabeth: This is going to sound so ridiculous. But I could wear a lot more clothes that were in my wardrobe.
Marc: Sure. Sure. That makes total sense. What else?
Elizabeth: That’s probably about it, I think.
Marc: So you would wear more clothes. And what would that do? So who would you be? How would you be different?
Elizabeth: I guess when I look in the mirror, I would just to be happier with myself.
Marc: So you’d be happier with yourself? You’d be more satisfied?
Marc: Anything else you want to add to how—
Elizabeth: You don’t believe me, do you? [Laughs]
Marc: No, I do believe you. I just want to make sure I get all the answers here, all the details. I just want to make sure I’m not missing anything here. So it’s not about not believing you. It’s just getting more and more specific so I make sure I have that. So you’d be happier. You’d like yourself more. You’d fit in more clothes. Your health would be different, especially the pain thing, in your knees and tendons and joints. Anything else in terms of how life would be different?
Elizabeth: No. I think that’s about it really.
Marc: Now, in one minute or less, tell me what you eat these days.
Elizabeth: I normally have a chia banana pancake for breakfast, or blueberries and mixed seeds with coconut oil. Lunch, I have normally a salad with either chicken or salmon.
And dinner is some sort of a main meal, either chicken, meat, fish with vegetables, or maybe a casserole or a risotto or something like that. I might have a piece of fruit after dinner. And I generally have one square of dark chocolate with peppermint tea. That’s kind of my treat for the day. And I have that most nights.
Marc: So that’s a fairly consistent way of eating for you?
Marc: Is it satisfying to you?
Marc: And are you a fast eater? Moderate eater? Slow eater? What would you call yourself?
Elizabeth: Well, I’ve always been a fast eater. But in the last twelve months, I’ve been really making a conscious effort to slow down and put my knife and fork down and really look at what’s on my plate and try and enjoy it.
And I always sit at the table now, and never in front of the TV. So I am making small changes that are helping. Occasionally I remember to do the deep breathing before I start eating. So I’m making small changes.
Marc: Have you been tested for diabetes or for thyroid?
Elizabeth: I have all my bloods done regularly. I’m really proactive with my health. And the last time was four months ago. And when I sat down in my doctor’s office, she said, “Have a seat, my star pupil.” She said all my results were perfect or better. So I’ve never had an issue with any of my bloods. They’ve always been good: good sugar, good cholesterol, good iron, everything. So I’m healthy.
Marc: Have you worked with any kind of nutritionist before?
Elizabeth: No nutritionists, no.
Marc: And what kind of movement do you do these days?
Elizabeth: I’ve just started with a personal trainer. I was an avid walker for the last twenty-two, twenty-one years, except for this year. Since I got this hip tendinitis, it’s been really painful to walk. And I just got so sick of it a few weeks ago, I signed up with a personal trainer to try and get me stretched and mobile again. And he’s fantastic. And I’m absolutely loving it. So it’s not a chore to go. I love it. And I just want to get better.
Marc: Yeah. What do you do for fun? What’s most fun for you, most pleasurable for you?
Elizabeth: Singing would be number one. And cooking and entertaining at home would be number two. And having my family around me, that probably comes in at number one, actually, when all the boys come over and the kids.
Marc: And how does your family, your sons feel about your weight? Do they ever say anything to you?
Elizabeth: No, they don’t. But they’ve grown up with me knowing that I’m not happy with my weight. There’s times when I lost a few kilos, and they’re really encouraging. But then other times they just to say, “Mom, you look fine. Stop worrying about it.”
Marc: Life isn’t easy sometimes with all the talk in our heads and all the chatter. Elizabeth, how old are you?
Elizabeth: Fifty-seven. I’ll be fifty-eight next week.
Marc: How long do you think he wants to live?
Elizabeth: I’d love to live so I’m ninety. My mom was ninety-two.
Marc: Yay. So you would like to live another thirty-two years.
Marc: Yeah. You want to live another twenty-two years plus. Okay. I get it. What do you see for those next thirty-two years? What’s going to be your life? What’s going to be some of the themes in terms of who you are, what you do? What would make it worth being alive?
Elizabeth: Well, to have as much love in my life as I have now, for that to continue and for my boys all to be happy and my grandchildren, obviously. And—I can’t believe I’m even going to say this—to lose a few kilos! [Laughs]
Marc: Sure! That’s a reason to be alive. What the heck?! I get it. I get it. You want to hit that goal. I get it. So why do you think—if you have any ideas at all—why do you think you have difficulty using the weight?
Elizabeth: Well, at the moment I think that maybe the stress in my life has had a bit to do with me not being able to lose it because all the other times I’ve been able to drop a few kilos quite easily. I know I’ve done a lot of emotional eating over losing mom. And I’ve also had quite a distress with my youngest son, who’s got leaky gut. And we’ve been working together to try and get him some relief because he’s covered in rash all over. So that’s really been playing on my mind.
And I’ve learned that stress can affect you when you’re producing too much cortisol, etcetera. So I’m wondering if that’s the reason that I’m not losing anything. I’m trying to calm myself down and just say, “Relax. And go with the flow.” So…
Marc: So you think it might be stress. Tell me again. I asked you this question. But I forgot the answer. The last time you were ten to twenty kilos less was around…?
Elizabeth: Two years ago.
Marc: Two years ago. Was your mom sick before she died? Was it sudden that it happened? Or was it gradual?
Elizabeth: She was actually only really sick for three days. So we were very lucky. But on and off, she’s had broken limbs. And she has needed a bit of care, quite a bit of care. And it was a little bit of a stress factor in the last couple of years. For the first eighteen years, she lived in a flat underneath our home. But we then built a home together. And she lived in the home with us. So it was very different.
And my husband has just been fantastic. But there were times when I was the meat in the sandwich, trying to keep things happy. So that’s been a bit of a stress. But I haven’t got that stress anymore. So I don’t know.
Marc: Okay. So let me put together some of my thoughts and ideas and opinions about how I see you and where you’re at. So, Elizabeth, I get to that you want to lose weight. I totally get that. And I get to that that dream has been around for a while. And the dissatisfaction with your body has been there kind of forever. And it’s a challenge because even now the way you’re eating, it would sound like the weight should come off. And it doesn’t. So I get why it’s easy to be frustrated here.
Here’s what I want to say. I always find it useful that when we’ve been doing something for a long time and it doesn’t work—like more than five or ten or fifteen or twenty years—that it’s time to do it different. And for no other reason, everything I’m going to suggest to you is a sort of doing it different all with the interest of seeing what happens.
So yours is not a clear-cut case of, “Oh, Elizabeth. This is what you need to do to lose weight,” because it’s a little bit of a mystery here as to why it doesn’t come off in the way you think it should or I think it should. It sounds like if you have a clean bill of health from your doctors and there’s no diabetes, there’s no prediabetes, there’s no thyroid issue, then those are probably the most common reasons metabolically in terms of what’s going on inside the body. Adrenal burnout, as well, why somebody might have trouble letting go of weight.
I also believe that there’s a lot of us who are little more sensitive. Some people are just more hearty than others. There is less affected by the craziness of the world. They’re less affected by the moon and the stars and the sun and the people and all the emotions and the nonsense that you have to deal with being a human being. So my sense about you is your very sensitive.
Elizabeth: Oh, too sensitive. Way too sensitive. I have been my whole life.
Marc: Yeah. Yeah. So I get that about you. And I want to tell you straight up that when I’m talking to someone like yourself who responds in that way like, “Way too sensitive. I’ve been that way my whole life,” to me, I’m talking to a very different kind of human, a very specific kind of human, a very unique kind of human. I’m going to talk to you different than I’m going to talk to the person who is not so sensitive.
So what I want to say about the ones who are exquisitely sensitive is that they’re more sensitive to emotions. They’re more sensitive to feelings. They’re more sensitive to the words that people say, to the harm that people do. You’re probably more sensitive to the things people don’t say, but you know that they’re thinking or feeling. Right? And you’re probably one of those. You’re probably a little big more empathic. And you pick up on that sort of thing and you take it on.
Marc: Now, especially being the fifth child, if you’re an empath and your sensitive, you’re really going to take a lot of that on because you are the last on the list in a strange way. And you’re kind of watching all these other people. And you’re trying to figure out, “Okay, what do I have to do to fit in?” So part of it, it feels like part of the theme that it sounds like you have in this life is, “When am I going to fit in? And how my going to fit in here?”
Marc: Is that true? Does that ring true for you?
Elizabeth: Yeah. It’s kind of an am-I-good-enough feeling. But it’s also weird because so many of my friends think that I’m this super confident, super duper woman because I do different things in the public: give talks and sing and MC functions. And I’m fine doing all that. Isn’t it kind of weird to you?
Marc: Of course! But humans are weird. You’re weird. I’m weird. You introduce me to anybody, give me fifteen minutes with them and I’ll tell you why they’re weird. [Chuckles] So it’s not that you’re not unique. But we’re strange people. So rather than, “When am I going to fit in?” it’s more for you, “Am I acceptable? Am I okay?” Is that it?
Elizabeth: Yeah. Am I good enough?
Marc: “Am I good enough?” Okay. So am I good enough is sort of, I’m going to call that the core question that you go through life with that kind of drives you. And all of us have some key driving questions or key driving needs or key driving holes that we have to fulfill. So I’m not just kind of pushing you up against the wall and saying, “Oh, this is you. This is your problem.” I’m talking to the humanity of all of us.
So am I good enough? And part of the answer to that question in your mind is, “I will be good enough when I lose some amount of kilos.” That’s your answer to that question in my opinion. When you ask the question, “Am I good enough?” There’s not really an answer that comes back from the environment, even though your husband loves you and your friends think you are great and all of that. But you still don’t feel good enough.
So when you try to add that all up, when you try to figure that out in your own mind—and I’m just trying to eavesdrop on your mind here and how you process and how your brain works—my guess is that from an early age, you looked around and you concluded that, “I will be good enough when I look a certain way, which means weighing a certain amount.”
Elizabeth: Yeah. I wasn’t overweight as a young child. But once I got to secondary school, from about thirteen onwards, that was when I really started to feel like the odd one out. And that’s when I started to put the weight on. Because I turned to food as a comfort before I even knew I was doing it.
Marc: Yeah. So isn’t that interesting about, “I want to fit in,” and fitting it means looking good and weighing a certain amount. But if I’m not there, then I turned to food, which technically on paper makes it even worse.
So to the thirteen-year-old mind, what I want to say is that the very reasonable conclusion because the hormones are starting to fly. And people are starting to date. And people are starting to kiss and do whatever they do. And you might notice, “Wow. This one has a boyfriend. And that one has a girlfriend. What’s wrong with me? What do I have to do? What needs to happen here?”
So you made a conclusion. And the conclusion was, “I’m going to be in. I’m going to be in the in crowd here in some way if I lose the weight.” So I’m trying to trace this back for you and I’m trying to let you know that that’s an adolescent strategy. And it’s a brilliant adolescent strategy because we want to fit in. We want to belong. We want to know that, “I’m good enough. If I don’t feel good enough, then I’m not going to like myself in the world.” So one of the driving forces of humans, particularly at a young age, is to feel good enough, to feel acceptable, to feel that I am okay as I am.
And what happens is a lot of us don’t feel good for a number of different reasons. But it’s easy to lock onto the food and weight thing because the world is constantly giving us the message, “If you have the food and weight thing down, then you’re going to be okay. You’re going to be part of the in crowd.” You and I and all of us have been getting messages from the media, from advertising, from television, from magazines, from images, constantly bombarded with, “If you look like this, you will be good enough.”
And we don’t even know how heavy that weighs on us. So what I want to say is my feeling about you is you’ve taken this on really seriously that you have to be a certain way and look a certain way in order to be good enough. And you haven’t been able to shake it off. You haven’t been able to shake it off all these years. And I get it because it’s hard to shake off. People go to the grave and they’re not liberated from, “Oh, my God. Am I okay? Do I need to lose weight? What do I have to do to be acceptable?”
So here’s what I want to say. And this is the psychology guy in me speaking to the psychology gal in you. So there’s all kinds of ways to talk about this. I’m going to talk about it in that way for a moment. So the psychology guy in me talking to the psychology gal in you wants to say that there’s a part of you that’s still thirteen years old. And it’s very sweet. There’s a part of you that’s extremely innocent. There’s a part of you that’s very vulnerable. And there’s a part of you that that’s very childlike. And I didn’t say childish. I said childlike, which means a certain kind of innocence and vulnerability, which is very, very sweet. It’s a very endearing quality that you have.
And I noticed there was two times in this conversation when you stepped out of that persona. It was twice in this conversation where I swear to you Elizabeth, I felt like I was all of a sudden talking to somebody different. And the two times it happened was early on in the conversation and then in the middle of the conversation.
Early on when I was saying, “Tell me about your husband. How does he feel about your body?” All of a sudden you started laughing. And you said, “Isn’t this crazy? I know I’m not supposed to be thinking this way. My husband loves my body. He loves me. I know I’m not supposed to think this way. Isn’t this crazy?” And you were just almost looking at your self from the outside laughing at how crazy it was. That, by the way, is the adult in you who is able to step back and say, “This is crazy.”
And then what happens is you shift back into the child in you because that’s where you will tend to live with them start thinking about your body. You’ll shift the back. And you’re actually like a thirteen-year-old using the same operating system, using the same set of thoughts and strategies that that’s 13-year-old girl was using. And you’ve overlaid it with other strategies.
And this is part of being human. So many of us, a part of us stays, kind of pitches our tent at a certain age when things got a little intense or when things were sensitive or when things were extra vulnerable. There’s times in life when we become just vulnerable to imprint, vulnerable to new input. And at a time when you needed to feel good about yourself, that you’re good enough, you didn’t get it, you didn’t get that juice. You didn’t get that medicine. You didn’t get those goodies. So there’s this part of you that walk through life feeling black.
And there’s this other parts of you that occasionally gets a little airtime. Occasionally. And it happened a few times in this conversation where you go, “Oh, my God. I have four children and for grandkids and wow and a husband who loves me. What a beautiful thing.” So we all have these different personas inside of us. This is very important. We all have different people that live inside of us.
We’re not one person. We’re a crowd. There’s the mother in you. The mother in you is very different from the person I’m speaking to right now. There’s the daughter in you. There’s the wife in you. She’s different. There’s the performer, the singer. She’s different. The MC in you, she’s different.
So what happens is when you go when you perform or you MC or you sing, people see that part of your specific personality. And they go, “Oh, that’s Elizabeth.” And it’s true. That is Elizabeth. But that’s only one part. That’s one personality. So you’re focused, understandably so, on the persona, the personality that’s just going, “I want to lose some weight so I can feel acceptable.”
And that’s where you spend a lot of your time. And here’s the goal. I’m just restating your goal of little bit in my own language. The goal is to get out of the hypnosis that that thirteen-year-old girl is who you are in its total. It’s a piece of who you are. And you give that piece a hell of a lot of airtime. And when that little girl gets a lot of airtime, she ain’t happy. She doesn’t feel good enough. And she gets a little down. She gets a little depressed. She gets a little judgmental of herself. She’s not a mean girl, is my guess. She’s just a girl who just kind of feels like, “Why me?”
So there’s a place where I want you to be in your queen more. There’s a place where I want you to occupy that throne more. So it’s going to be less about, “How do we fix that little girl right now?” And it’s more about, “How do I step into my queenhood more?” Because your focus, when I asked you, “So, what’s the game plan? How long do you want to live?” “Okay, ninety.” That’s about thirty-two years, one of the things that you want—and you laughed when you said it, and it was great because that was the adult you coming out—you’re like, “I want to lose a few kilos.” What I really heard you say beneath that code language was, “I want to feel good about myself.”
What I’m going to say to you is that your math isn’t accurate. The math in your head says, “I will feel good enough when I lose X number of kilos.” What I’m saying is I don’t know that that’s true because there’s been times when you’ve been ten or twenty kilos less. And you look back now and you go, “Wow, I wish I had that body,” and when you thought you were fat.
So I’m saying even when you were there, it didn’t necessarily happen. And you might say to me, “Yeah, but this time. This time I’m going to be okay. This time it’s going to work.” And when I’m going to say is no. What I’m going to say is I don’t want to count on that anymore. And I want to do a different strategy. And this is on the one hand not easy. But it’s very simple. And it’s a choice. And it’s a choice that you make from your adult, big girl place.
And I want to get back to this sensitive thing because what happens, my intuition tells me for you, that that sensitive side is so watery and so ocean- like and so overwhelming for you that it just takes you over. And I think what happens when you binge eat, when you go for the sugar, it’s just totally taking you over. That sensitivity that, “I’m not good enough,” it just totally takes over in those moments.
Honestly, if you’re only binging once or twice a month, I’m thinking, “Not bad at all.” It’s not as bad as you think, especially if it’s gotten a little bit more intense since your mom has died. It can take for some people, years to mourn and to really grieve. And we never move on. We never move on. There’s always going to be sadness. My mother died in 1991. And every once in a while, I’ll just miss her and I’ll cry like a baby. And my dad died in 1987. And every once in a while I’ll just missed him. And I’ll cry like a baby. My grandparents died forty years ago, and same thing.
So I don’t know that we get over it. But we learn how to live with that pain and that grief in that loss and to not let it take over us to the point that we can’t be us and we can’t function. So what I want for you is to learn how to live in a different way with what almost feels like a disappointment that you’ve carried over from a long time from being a kid, the disappointment that you didn’t quite get what you want when it came to feeling good enough. And I would love for you to start to find the evidence that you’re good enough. This is very important, I think.
And here’s what I mean. I want to give you a homework assignment. And the homework assignment is to have a journal and to keep the journal by your bed and to do this at night. And if nighttime doesn’t work, picking another time during the day when you’re free and you’re clear and you can just be silent and quiet. And I want you to just keep a daily journal, ten or fifteen minutes worth, more if you want. And it’s evidence that, “I’m good enough.”
And I want you to collect evidence from your life and evidence from that day that shows that you’re good enough. Little things. “I’m good enough because my friends love me. I’m good enough because all things considered, I’m relatively healthy. I’m good enough because I have people that love me. I have kids. I have grandkids. I have a husband.” In your mind, you are constantly weighing things. And you’re finding yourself not good enough. And that conversation is so strong. And it’s got you. It grips you.
So what we’re doing is we’re introducing another conversation. And it’s the kind of conversation that is actually worth having with yourself. And it’s speaking to the part of you that is holding you back. It’s a speaking to that little girl in you that’s, “I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough.” Well, actually let’s go to the facts.
So in that journal, I would like you each day to go over different points in your life when you thought you weren’t good enough and list ways why you were good enough. It’s a re-storying. We’re going back and were rewriting your story because your story wasn’t quite accurate. You made assessments based on being a sensitive kid who wants to be loved and, “Yeah, okay. Maybe she dated before I did. And maybe they seems to be having more fun. But that doesn’t mean I’m not good enough.”
The two don’t necessarily correlate. It just means somebody was dating before you. It just means at that point, somebody’s having more fun than you. For all I know, those people that you wished you were, they could be miserable and dead. You know what I’m saying? They could’ve had the worst lives ever and not have—
Elizabeth: The one that affected me the most is miserable, unfortunately. Yeah.
Marc: So we collect this strange evidence. And we come to these strange conclusions. That’s what we do. That’s what humans do. So we’re course correcting that. And the idea for you is to embrace that you’re sensitive. Really embrace that. And embrace that because you’re a supersensitive human being, you’ve been able to be more loving. You’ve been able to be a great mother. You’ve been able to be a great wife. You’ve been able to have a good life for yourself. You had good relationship, at least with your mom. We didn’t talk much about your dad.
Elizabeth: Yeah, it was good, too.
Marc: Yeah. Wow! You don’t know how many people I speak to, they’re in misery about their kids, their relationship, their lack of a relationship, their lack of a marriage. And it’s kind of like you won the lottery.
Elizabeth: That’s why I get so annoyed with myself sometimes because I know I’ve got a wonderful life. And I say to myself, “Just get over it. Get on with it.” But then I find myself not doing that.
Marc: Yet. So here’s what I want to say. So instead of making it all or nothing… Because you can’t make it all or nothing. You can’t just push a button and, “I’m wonderful. I’m great. And all that nonsense is over with. That’s not going to happen.” But what can happen is you can spend less and less time living in that unhappy neighborhood called, “I’m not good enough. And I have to do something to feel good enough.”
I just want you to start to spend less and less and less and less time there. So it’s baby steps. And right now, you’re trying to win the lottery by losing a bunch of pounds, which will then make you feel good about yourself. And what I’m saying is you have to feel good about yourself first before your body is ever going to shape shift at this point. It’s all about you started to create a whole new story about your life because you’re living in a story that doesn’t reflect the goodness of your life in who you are. It doesn’t!
So I’m agreeing with you. When you start to think that you get annoyed with your self, instead of getting annoyed with yourself, I want you to feel good about, “Oh, right! I’m remembering now.” So this is all about remembering because you will forget. And then all of a sudden you’ll go into, “I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough. I don’t care what that guy said. I want to lose a bunch of kilos.” And then all of a sudden you’re going to remember, “Wait a second. I am good enough. I have this great life. I have all this evidence.” And then you’re going to spend a little time there gathering that evidence. And then you’re going to spend a little time relaxing into yourself more, remembering a deeper truth.
So this is what I’m going to call like a training. It’s a practice. If you train for anything, if you practice being a good parent… For you to raise for kids, you have to be very consistent. You can’t just say, “Oh, you know what? Today I’m just not changing diapers.” Or, “Today, I’m not going to drive my kids to school.” You’ve got to be kind of consistent if you’re going to be a good parent. So I want you to have that same consistency. You’re not going to do it perfectly.
But I want it to be a practice, which means it’s not perfect. It’s a practice. And it’s not all or nothing because immediately you go to, “Well, I can’t do this.” You get mad at yourself that you’re not there. But then when you’re there for a few minutes, you enjoy it. But then you get mad at yourself because you should be there. So I want you to put an end to that kind of thinking as best you can and remind yourself, “Wait. I’m here to remind myself. I’m here to spend more time in the neighborhood called I’m good enough.” Slightly, here and there. More and more on a daily basis.
That’s why the journaling peace, if you can do that, is important. If you don’t want to journal, then talk to someone about it—have a friend. Use your husband—where they’re a sounding board. And you’re just talking to them about evidence about why you’re good enough. I would love for you to do this with a friend, with a fellow professional because sometimes speaking it out loud or reading to them what you journaled it’s really powerful because you need to learn how to juice yourself up. You need to juice you up. You need to learn how to be your cheerleader. You let yourself get down on yourself. And you’re learning in a way how to re-parent yourself.
So I want to say that in my experience, when both of our parents move on, when they leave planet Earth, as hard as that can be for so many people, it’s an opportunity and it’s a time for you to fully take the throne and be a parent to yourself. And I promise you if your mom was here, she’d be agreeing with me. It’s time for you to parent your self so that when you’re being that little thirteen-year-old girl who is supersensitive and wishes she was good enough, I want another voice in your head to pop in and say, “Wait a second. This is adult Elizabeth speaking.” Mother yourself. You’ve got to mother yourself better because you get lost in being your own little sister to your own little kid. And it doesn’t work. You stay in the same spin cycle. You follow me?
Elizabeth: Yeah, I do.
Marc: So I’m asking you to embrace and love your sensitivity. But at the same time, I’m asking you to have moments where the inner adult steps in and says, “Okay, now it’s time to draw a little bit of boundary line. And it’s time to sit up straight. And it’s time to remember that you have a good life” because your emotional self really pulls you down. So it’s your greatest asset. And it’s your greatest liability. Are you with me?
Elizabeth: Yeah. I am with you. I definitely understand what you’re saying. There’s times when I’ve said, “Ugh, I wish I wasn’t so sensitive.” Now I catch myself. And I say, “Well, I wouldn’t be who I am.”
Marc: So that’s why am saying I want you to embrace that sensitivity. I want you to love it. I want you to accept it. And at the same time, I also want you to be able to say to that part of you, “I love you. And now it’s time to lie on the couch for a while and take a break while the adult steps in, while the queen in me steps in.”
And you literally have to invoke the queen in you. The queen in you is the part of you that sits on the throne. And she’s a queen. She’s confident. She loves herself. She loves her life. She’s got a queendom who loves to be around her and loves to serve her. And she loves to serve.
A queen does not sit on her throne going, “Hey, everybody. Do I need to lose a few kilos? Yeah, I think I do. I know you guys don’t love me until I lose ten or twenty kg.” That’s not the queens we know and love. The queens we know and love, they ascend their throne. And they know who they are. So you have to have a bigger vision for yourself. You’ve got to have a bigger vision for yourself other than lose a bunch of kilos.
Elizabeth: The princess/queen thing had the biggest impact on me of anything else.
Marc: It’s huge for you. That’s a really huge distinction because that little girl in you, that thirteen-year-old girl, that’s the sweet little princess that wants to be loved and adored, as she should be, and as she should have been. And if she didn’t get the love and adoration that she needs or that she needed, then you—you, personally—can give it to her now.
You are waiting for the world to give it to you. And the promise is, “Well, if I lose these kilos, then the world will give me that acknowledgment. The world will tell me I’m okay and I’m a good princess. And I’m a pretty princess.” The world doesn’t care. The world ain’t gonna do that. The world is doing more important things in the world’s eyes.
So that’s something you have to do for you. And it’s only the mother in you. Just think of the mother in you. How would you mother yourself? When you’re feeling down, when you’re feeling, “I’m not appreciated. I’m not good enough,” how would you mother yourself if you were your own little girl, if you were your own little child? What would you tell yourself? How would you hold yourself? What advice would you give yourself? What wisdom would you give to yourself?
You have to start invoking that voice inside you. Otherwise you’re going to drown. And you’re never going to transcend this. And I know you can do this because you have that part in you because you’ve been a successful mom. And you have love in your life. And you have a man who adores you. So you have that foundation. You have that winning lottery ticket. You just haven’t looked at it and went, “Yippee!”
Marc: So it’s a practice. And it’s a practice. And it’s you catching yourself more and more and letting go more and more of having to apologize to anyone, including yourself that you haven’t lost some arbitrary amounts of kilos that’s going to make you feel like you’re good enough. To me, if your body has weight to let go of, this is how you’re going to let go of it. You’re going to let go of it by changing your inner world.
The stress of, “I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough,” that the stress. That creates a mindset. That creates a chemistry. That creates a calorie-burning metabolism that’s probably not ideal for you. So you’re at a point in your life where you have to do the inner work. And I know you know this. And the inner work is important. And the important thing is to know that you’re doing it.
Maybe everything is not happening as quickly as it should. But, again, I think one of the beautiful gifts you can give to your mother is to step into your queenhood and to honor her in that way. I mean that. It’s to really step into that place because what do you want for your kids? You want them to feel like they can stand tall in the world and be proud of who they are.
That’s what you want for your kids. That’s what your mom wanted for you. Deep down, parents, that’s their secret wish for their kids, whether they’re aware of it or not. So you have a chance to get there and to fulfill that wish if you really want to honor your mother.
Marc: How are you doing, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: Yeah, I’m doing all right. My mind is going a million miles an hour. But, yeah. I think you’ve made the penny drop in two or three areas, especially talking to myself as if I was mothering myself. I think that’s probably the best advice I’ve ever heard.
Marc: Yeah. And healing can happen in a moment. And I will tell you that when you experience for a minute, for a few moments, when you experience you feeling that you’re good enough as you are right now without having to lose another kilo, without having to lose another gram, when you feel that feeling of unconditional love for yourself, of unconditional acceptance for yourself, your life will change because that’s a place most people never reach because we’re so self-critical. And were so perfectionist.
And it’s the same place that I know you know what it feels like because you’ve given it to other people. You’ve given it to your children. You’ve had plenty of moments with your kids when you love them for who they are. You’re not trying to change them. In fact, when they’re crying, when they are feeling not good enough and not okay, you turn up the love. You love them even more. You make sure your mothering them even more.
I want you to have that dialogue with you in the comfort of your own skin, in the quiet of your own mind and the quiet of your own heart. It’s a place that you find. And you haven’t quite found it yet. But I’m telling you it’s in there. I promise you it’s there. And you can do this. I really mean it. You can find that place in here. You can find that voice. I know you can because you have a big heart. And we just want to take that big heart and aim it towards you a little bit here.
Elizabeth: [Sobs] Sorry.
Marc: You don’t have to apologize. This means that we’re on the right track.
Elizabeth: Yeah. I think so.
Marc: Yeah. Yeah. And your life is going to change. And you’re always going to be sensitive. That’s the beautiful thing. We’re not trying to get rid of the sensitivity. We are just wrapping our arms around it and understanding that part of your sensitivity lives in that little thirteen-year-old girl. So we want to make sure she gets what she never got, which is that love and that acceptance in that communication that you’re good enough. And you’re the person to give it to you. You’re the person. You’re the only person left because that’s where it has to come from.
Elizabeth: Yeah. I understand.
Marc: So we’re going to meet in another couple of months down the line. And I’m going to check in with you to see how you’re doing. But I think you know what’s ahead of you. And I would love for you to make sure that you do in some way, whether it’s a journaling or whether it’s back and forth with a friend, a loved one where you get to share with your journal, with another person openly, all the evidence, all the little ways, the medium ways, and the big ways that your good enough and to start to fill yourself up that way.
Another reason why we binge eat—and for you this is probably true, I’m going to guess—is that binge eating for a lot of us, not everybody, binge eating is often an overwhelming attempt to fill ourselves up because we’re feeling empty. There’s a whole. There’s a need. And symbolically, we go for food. We devour it because there’s a need that’s not being met.
Whenever you binge, my guess is what’s happening is you are tapping in unknowingly to that deep need to feel good enough. And you turn to food at an early age to feel good enough because food makes us feel good. So you turn to that, understandably so, as do millions and millions, if not hundreds of millions, if not maybe even billions of people, ongoingly turn to food to fill up, to feel loved. So now you’re learning how to fill yourself up in other ways.
So the binge eating, I would not look at it as the enemy. I want you to look at it as a reminder that you have a big, powerful place inside you that wants love and wants attention and wants to be filled up. And when you start to fill that place up, little bits here and there on a daily basis, the need to binge and feel that place up all of a sudden because it’s feeling so hungry, then needed to do that starts to fall away. I promise you.
Elizabeth: Thanks, Marc.
Marc: Thanks, Elizabeth. Thanks for being so open and being so vulnerable and being so sensitive.
Marc: And I think there’s some good pieces here for you. And what I would do is after we finish, I wILL just kind of absorb what’s happened. And I want you to catch yourself the moment you go into disappointment or despair or the moment you start to get critical of self. I want you to remember that you’re really doing well. You’re really doing hard work.
It’s not easy to get rid of the virus called I hate my body. It’s not easy to get rid of the virus called I’m not good enough because you didn’t invent that virus. It lives in the atmosphere. It impacts so many people. It impacts the smartest people, the most powerful people, the most wealthy people. It impacts anyone it impacts. It doesn’t care about wealth, power, prestige, color, age. It hit five-year-old girls. It had eighty-year-old women. It’s very powerful. So you’re doing the work to reclaim yourself and reclaim your dignity and your authority in your self-love.
That’s what this is about. And that’s when you start to become the person you are truly meant to be in a whole new way. And that’s what I want to see you doing for the next thirty-two years is step into the empowered you. And from that place, the weight will do what it needs to do. That’s what I believe. And that’s what I’ve seen.
Marc: I’m cheering for you, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: Thanks, Marc.
Marc: Thank you. Thank you. We will reconvene. I’ll have my people reach out to you. We’ll have another session a bunch of months and down. And we’ll check in. And I thank you again for being so brave and honest and open.
Elizabeth: Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.
Marc: Yeah. And thank you, everybody, for tuning in. I’m Marc David on behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast. There’s lots more to come, my friends. You take care.
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