Why Can’t Stop Thinking About Food | Labyrinth

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labyrinth can't stop thinking about food

Can’t stop thinking about food?

Caught between the desire for food and the fear of overeating, people will find themselves in a Catch 22. People are often faced with a decision to either eat or not to eat, and can’t stop thinking about food.

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They have two options – one that can be emotionally harmful and another that could be physically harmful. It’s like not knowing whether to turn left or right in a labyrinth.

A person does not want to make the wrong decision, which leads them to continue turning the question over in their head until they finally throw up their hands and decide to binge to make the Catch 22 tension temporarily go away.

They got lost in the labyrinth so they binged to get out. But, then you wake up the next day and you are still in the labyrinth and no you feel ashamed, disgusted and guilty. Then there is a lot of shame that comes with overeating.

A 2007 study asked 9,282 English-speaking Americans about a variety of mental health conditions, including eating disorders. The results, published in Biological Psychiatry, found that 3.5% of women and 2.0% of men had binge eating disorder during their life.

eating disorder statistics 3.5% women, 2% men

Imagine how many more millions of people struggle with emotional eating but never get officially diagnosed too! I mean … this is why health official says there is an obesity epidemic. It’s because so many people are hurting but no one is owning their emotional side to food.)

Sometimes people wake up in the same spot feeling guilty and like they don’t deserve to eat because they’ve ruined their diet. In this way, mountains of guilt can pile up and become a self-inflicted poison that ruins your mood, body, and sense of pride.

There is a tremendous fear about the cycle repeating.

binge eating disorder cycle of restriction, cravings, shame and guilt with forbidden foods

This fear comes from the fear of needing to escape the labyrinth but not knowing how. This fear comes from food meeting your emotional needs, but also needing food to meet your emotional needs. Food is both angel and devil.

You become dependent on food to make you feel safe and to calm down. Food helps you suppress trauma and painful wounds in your subconscious. Without food it’s like there is a volcano inside of you that burns your soul.

Food is the only thing that helps the volcano not erupt. But needing food to manage your emotional volcano then makes you feel guilty. You feel guilty about needing food. And then you can’t stop thinking about food either. Obviously you are not healing the source of the volcano. You are merely suppressing the volcano with food, but you know no other way other than discipline.

But discipline only works so long.

After going back in forth in your head, like being lost in the labyrinth, you try to stop your food thoughts. But you simply can’t stop thinking about food. These thoughts become intolerable. They become loud. You can only perceive food.

Then the food demon takes over and makes you overeat and gain back all the weight. And meanwhile, you only know discipline. You only know how to try harder.

This willpower dependency just keeps you further trapped in the labyrinth. Eventually you are faced with another decision – use food to manage your emotions or face the volcano. You don’t know how to face or heal the volcano so you fight this urge to feel safe for awhile but then you give in again.

After you give in you blame yourself, which creates the Catch 22. You don’t realize that discipline doesn’t work because all you know is rationality, willpower and discipline. This sets you up to try to meet your needs using willpower, but it doesn’t work that way!

catch 22 binge eating

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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