The past few years have tested each of us. We’ve been immersed in Grief. Loss. Relationship fissures. Children’s developmental concerns. Money stress. And these individual challenges are nesting dolls of the escalating war on women’s bodies, caretaking, and the Earth.
With this, it’s not surprising that stress and stress eating are at an all-time high.
In the American Psychological Association’s pandemic anniversary surveys, COVID-19-related stress was associated with unhealthy weight gains and increased drinking. While there were jokes about the initial “COVID-19”, close to 58% of respondents reported experiencing persistent, undesired weight changes and unhealthy behaviors. And many reported worse mental health, lower physical activity, disturbed sleep, and increased reliance on unhealthy habits.
If safety is a primal need and stress is inevitable, how can we feel safe without turning to food? And even better, how can we use stress to make us more courageous and creative for the solutions these times demand? We will be exploring these questions here in Insatiable Season 13.
Because if you listen to Insatiable, chances are you are like my clients and me, tasked with going first. We’re the outsiders, the rebels, and misfits. We’re already suspect of “normal”. And we are integrated into society. Therefore, we can be the bridge to doing things differently and pulling our loved ones and communities across with our examples and their curiosity.
For most of us, our values have rearranged and are rearranging. In a culture that values wholeness, we would have more support and honor the sacred thresholds we’ve each traversed. And then we’d be better resourced to create better, life giving-solutions for the times we find ourselves in.
But American culture and its global exports are oriented towards whole well-being for only a very few.
And coping with this reality and the initial intensity of the pandemic with unhealthy habits has continued. A system that is built for a few to take the rewards and the masses to bear the consequences urges us to view the deficiencies of these systems as our own personal moral failings. This is the lens of willpower and discipline, which tells us it’s us that just needs to get our shit together. To try harder. Find a better plan.
We will use my Truce model to question this reasoning and guide our season as Truce is rooted in the reality that we turn to food when we feel unsafe. Specifically, we feel unsafe or “stressed” and stress eat when the stories that run in our lives don’t fit and aren’t sustainable.
These stories are and aren’t about our body. If we don’t become aware of these stories, we will continue to turn to food and be unable to self-author new stories.
And self-authoring our stories is where food and life freedom exist. And the more those of us who have been conditioned to want to be good, decide we actually want to be free and flourish, the more confidence we develop to advocate for our rebel ideas that will make health and well-being accessible for more than a few.
But you may be thinking, what if I am too exhausted to do things how they’ve always been done – with habit hacking, stacking, and white-knuckling food? To this, I say Welcome.
As the farmer and Theologian Wendell Berry says,
“It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work
and when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
When we no longer know what to do, we become open to getting to the real work of our stress and stress eating. Because here you will find that the root-cause of stress and stress eating is most deeply about safety.
From the moments of our first beginnings and breath, food provides our first and consistent sense of comfort, nurturance, and belonging. Or not.
And as we grow, food connects us to our family, friends, rituals, and celebration. It’s the rug that won’t get pulled out from under our feet.
So it makes complete sense that bad eating habits escalated during the pandemic. Even at a time when eating well for our immunity was essential. Because a sense of safety is a primal need. And so much of what we thought was certain and provided a sense of safety, became uncertain and unsafe.
And these habits persist when so many of us are still trying to find new footing. Especially when the veil of what we thought we knew, has come undone. And we cannot un know or un see.
Think of coming home from a fancy night out, taking off your bra and make-up and putting on your favorite sweats with the softest fabric. This is the felt sense of food as safety.
Each episode of Insatiable Season 13 will provide you with one stage of the Truce process. And, discussions and questions to explore to get more clear on what really are your big stress triggers and why they are making you turn to food. Who do you have to become to change that story for a Truce with Food and be a courageous, healthy leader for your friends, family, and community?
Buckle up buttercup. Because we are going deep. Because there are sooooo many other options on the menu for safety other than food and it is possible to rewire your brain and body over time so that this is not the conscious or unconscious reaction. My hope is Season 13 opens you up to new choices so the stress of your food and body battle forges the brave creative fire we need from you right now.