As an emotional eater, food used to be one of my main sources of celebration, play, and even joy.
Do you ever look for joy in a bag? Or happiness in a box?
Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, I did it constantly. I considered certain foods to be the best part of my week. Friday nights were the worst. It was the day of the week I was most craving feelings of playfulness and the experience of fun or celebration. But except for food, I didn’t give myself an outlet for it. So I’d eat, and eat.
Then, I’d wake up Saturday morning dreading to see the number on the scale. I knew my Friday nights were affecting my waistline. But for several years, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to change this behavior.
The worst part was: the food never truly felt good. Even while I was in the process of eating, it didn’t feel like I wanted it to. Later, I felt such shame. Deep down, I knew there was something I was missing …
Learning to celebrate
Part of healing my relationship with food involved making room in my life for lighter emotions, and in fact often prioritizing them. It meant giving myself permission to fill the need for joy in ways that went beyond food. I had to allow myself to celebrate the multiple facets of life. (Not just food!)
Some weeks are more difficult than others. But it never seems to fail, that when I start looking for bliss, and expecting joy … it finds me again and again.
“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
This week I felt I needed a boost, so I made it my number one priority to find happiness in even the little things. Within days, life gave me armfuls of reasons to be happy and celebrate:
- The week was pleasantly sunny, even though at one point it was forecasted to be rainy/stormy.
- An answer for which I’ve been searching for months, fell into my lap.
- My fur babies — our two pugs — had their senior wellness exams and the lab work came back nearly perfect. We have two healthy little guys!
- I got an unexpected check in the mail.
- And a bill I was expecting, only ended up being a quarter of what I had calculated it would be.
- A local business that’s been difficult to deal with called me to let me know they finally got everything resolved.
- There’s a two-word phrase I love. It’s been randomly running through my mind off and on for the last few years. This week, inspired by my string of good fortune, I checked to see if that web address was available. I never dreamed it would be, but to my absolute surprise, it was. Of course I purchased it immediately.
The part of me that used to look for happiness in a bag of snack food wouldn’t have seen much of this (except my fur babies’ good results) as anything worthy of joy or celebration. And that belief would have made overeating seem increasingly necessary, but not fulfilling in the way that meeting true needs feels.
The spirit needs outlets for play, joy, and celebration. Listen to those needs. Honor them. Think of it as playing to win.
Are you regularly giving yourself permission to experience the lighter emotions of life? If not, maybe it’s time to give it a try.
Find something to celebrate
I believe there’s almost always some source of happiness or a reason to celebrate. Some days it might be a tiny thing. Other days, something greater. That’s okay, it all counts. Start wherever you are.
Some days a win might be just getting out of bed. (Yup: we all have those kind of days.) Remember: it’s not about the size of the event. It’s about embracing happiness or celebrating, no matter how big or small the reason.
Try giving yourself the opportunity to experience these feelings in ways that aren’t centered around food, and see where that takes you.