For years I used food for comfort. Any emotional occurrence such as happiness, sadness, anger, guilt, frustration, and more would be my cue to hit the pantry. Every Monday morning I would decide to eat healthily and every Monday lunchtime I would decide to postpone the healthy-eating commitment to next Monday. That was my pattern. Apart from the weight gain, I was also feeling lousy about my sugar addiction.

I had to find out why I had this pattern and address the elephant that incessantly roamed the jungle of my mind. I sat myself down with my journal and fiercely wrote down my “food-related” memories on a timeline, gently tracing them back to that one single crucial memory of the incident that was responsible for creating my emotional eating paradigm.

It took three hours for me to trace my pattern back to that first incident, at five years of age, where I was shamed for not finishing the food on my plate because all the other cousins had finished their food and were allowed to go outside and play. I couldn’t join my cousins outside and had to watch them all have fun while I struggled to eat.

I remember the food getting stuck in my throat because the lump of tears was already blocking the passage because all I wanted to do in that moment was cry loudly. But there was the threat of being punished further if I cried. That particular incident resulted in my first negative perception of food. I started to view food as an obstacle to my “playtime” which was my “joy-time.”

All my life since that incident, I have been running away from feeling the emotions of shame and disrespect.

My child self was disrespected and shamed about food. Later in the teen years, incidents of disrespect triggered more of emotional eating. Addiction to unhealthy foods and beverages is a symptom of unprocessed emotions resulting from hurt and trauma. It’s not always what you eat that determines your body’s health, it’s also what’s eating you.

Speak kindly to yourself about yourself. Avoiding junk food is great but replacing junk thoughts with healthy ones is equally vital.

Junk thought  versus healthy thought:

  1. I hate myself  – I am a beautiful creation of Allah.
  2. I’m a failure – I have survived through my tests and learnt my lessons.
  3. I need food to feel better – Allah is my comforter. Only Allah can make me feel better.
  4. I’m stuck – My life is unfolding according to Allah’s plans for me.
  5. I hate feeling like I’m always struggling – Allah has put me to it, and He will see me through it. I am wiser and stronger now that I am going through this experience.
  6. No one loves me, I will end up alone – I am a beautiful creation of Allah. I am love, I radiate love.