Emotional eating is tricky.
My fluctuations with food started in my early teens. I got into the habit of undereating for the first half of the day then arriving home from school SO hungry. I’d start eating cereal, in tiny cups, but many many tiny cups of cereal. The point of the tiny cup was to keep the portion down but obviously the tactic was ineffective.
This cycle with food started after being told I had gained some weight in my thighs, in a not so sensitive manner, by a ballet teacher. I committed to consuming foods with just 3g of fat or less because in my 13 year old mind that seemed like a good tactic.
After years of the yo – yo cycle the periods of restriction became less severe while the binges became more extreme. This happened as I started using food to soothe my emotions.
When you’re in a professional or pre – professional dancing environment and you feel like you’re not measuring up that’s not usually something you want to talk about.
When you don’t talk about the things you’re feeling or express those emotions through some healthy medium it’s very common to eat as a way to self – soothe. If you do this or you’ve ever done it in the past you’re not alone.
According to the American Psychological Association 38 percent of adults and 26 percent of teens report overeating or eating unhealthy foods in the past month to cope with stress.
As a dancer you experience a great deal of stress and sometimes the fact that the stress is around your body makes it that much more likely that you’ll turn to food.
My clients tell me that in those moments they think to themselves, “I’ll never look how they want me to anyway so forget it” and overeat. It’s a sort of “so there” to the Artistic Staff who’re telling you that you’re somehow not “right” for ballet.
When you get into emotional eating it can easily become a pattern. The food distracts you from what you’re feeling or what’s stressing you out. In the moment you might even get some joy from eating and don’t think about how you’ll feel after.
It’s not easy to move past emotional eating and using food in this way but it is possible. I’ve done it and I’ve had the joy of seeing other dancers do it too.
It helps to first identify the situations, people or triggers that cause you stress. From there, look at why those things are so stressful. Are you unfulfilled? Do you feel lost? Lonely? Not good enough?
Is there some situation when you were younger that you’re reminded of when you’re feeling stressed? For me I’d always go back to my 13 year old self being told I needed to lose weight in my thighs. When I wasn’t performing well in rehearsals I’d tell myself it was because I was too fat, my thighs were too big.
It’s not until you start to release the “meaning” you’ve attached to the things that happened to you that you’ll be able to move forward.
Cultivating a positive self image is going to be a key factor in moving past emotional eating. It’s knowing that no matter what happens you’ll be OK.
What are your gifts? What can you contribute to the world not just as a dancer but as a person?
How can you remember to take care of yourself each and every day? Implement daily practices and rituals that make you feel good. By taking the time to care for yourself – body, mind and spirit you’re taking the steps to find balance with food.
If you’re looking for a well rounded approach to food and your body that’s tailored specifically to dancer body goals and lifestyle check out The Dancer’s Best Body Program. This program was created to help you eat with ease and attain your personal best dancer’s body.
Enrollment is open thru Sunday, February 4, 2018 (this program only enrolls 2x/year). Any questions, feel free to email me : [email protected]