Do you have a food stash hidden away? When you head to the grocery, do you find yourself buying large amounts of foods, like chips or cookies wanting to stock up, just in case you get hungry for them? Do you ever feel guilty or a bit ashamed wondering if this type of behavior is a bit odd? Find out what’s really behind your food stash. Hint: It’s more than food.

food stash, emotional eating, body image, self esteem, The Juicy Woman, Andrea Amador, Lovin’ the Skin You’re In: The Juicy Woman’s Guide to Making Peace with Food and Friends with Your Body, non diet weight control, stress relief

IStock_000004749935XSmall(2) Do you have a food stash hidden away? When you head to the grocery, do you find yourself buying large amounts of foods, like chips or cookies wanting to stock up, just in case you get hungry for them? Do you ever feel guilty or a bit ashamed wondering if this type of behavior is a bit odd?

Coming from a family of women who lived during the depression, and who were always used to buying certain shelf-stable items in quantity, it was natural for me to follow their lead.

Creating Comfort with Food

From the time that I had my own home and I was busy raising a family, I always had a packed refrigerator, fully stocked freezer and my pantry was usually filled to overflowing.

In my dieting days, all the items that I had on hand were of the lowfat/nonfat variety. It just felt so good to be surrounded by large quantities of food. To me, it was like being wrapped up in the arms of someone I love, like getting a bear hug from a best friend.

Trying to Listen to My Body

In 2006, after I made the decision to stop dieting, the quality of my purchases changed. On the recommendation of a colleague, I promised myself that I could eat anything I wanted as long as I listened to my body’s hunger so I completely stopped dieting cold turkey.

Rather than buying large quantities of all of the old diet foods that I was used to eating, I started to break out of my comfort zone and I began to stock up on all of the foods that I had lusted after during my dieting days, but never allowed myself to have.

Among my favorite bingeables to have on hand were–4 or 5 different types of chips: corn, fried and baked, potato chips, popcorn,  and more, several bags of mini Snickers or Reeses peanut butter cups, 4 cartons of ice cream, and
5 – 6 canisters of chocolate covered raspberry jellies. During those times, my fridge was packed with tons of lunch meats, sausages and lots of foods that I never allowed myself to have. My freezer was exploding with every kind of ice cream and TV dinner I ever wanted.

But since I was so used to thinking of all these foods from the perspective of being deprived and wanting what I didn’t think I could have, I usually ended up overeating every single time.

For several months following my decision to stop dieting, I ate out of control and couldn’t seem to get a handle on my hunger. I hated myself and blamed my lack of self-control for my crazed behavior around food and weight gain.

I never felt safe storing the foods in the house. Deep down I knew that if they were around, I would most certainly feel compelled to eat every morsel until it was gone.

Then about a year later, someone introduced me to a program called, “Beyond Dieting: The Bonios Plan” and that’s when I found many of the answers to my questions about how to get thinner without ever dieting again.

I also learned that the reason why I couldn’t tune into my body’s natural hunger, was because I was under so much stress and my body was unable to listen to any direction other than, “Eat, Honey, you’ll feel better.”

From listening to those tapes, I learned that this instinct that I had to hoard food wasn’t abnormal at all. And rather than it being evidence of a character flaw of mine, it reflected my disordered relationship with food. I also discovered that as I dealt more aggressively with the stress in my life, my urge to satisfy and pacify my needs using food was becoming less. I discovered that a major key to finding peace with food was to treat my body and my spirit with self-compassion.

Are You Fighting A Food War?

If you struggle with feeling out of control around food and know that food is always your go-to stress relief method, just know that doesn’t make you a bad person. You’re only doing the best you can with what your body knows.

Change takes time and it requires patience. Your challenge with eating is most likely a control issue that has been with you for a long time. Be gentle in working to change it, because you must establish a sense of safety again in order to normalize your relationship with food.

By learning how to reclaim parts of your life that have made you feel overwhelmed, your eating habits will change. But in order to change them, you must first do the things that you never felt you could do with food.–Giving yourself permission to eat and eat in front of other people is a huge piece of your future freedom with food.

In talking about the hoarding instinct in her Beyond Dieting program tape series, Dr. Bonios says, “ this is perfectly natural and I want to encourage you to do so.

Many women who diet have handed over the reigns of control of what they eat to others. Without realizing it, we give others permission to make comments on what we eat and how we look. By renegotiating those boundaries and making it clear that will no longer work for you, you will feel so much more in charge of your life. You can start to make some inroads into creating a new relationship with food, by drawing the lines in the sand.

If you live with other people, you may have to buy certain foods and label them as your own. It may really serve your best interests to make a request of those around you and tell them not to eat any of those foods, because they are yours. The reason that you will do is to give yourself the time and space you need to heal; and to send your heart the message that you can trust yourself around all foods.

Part of your healing is knowing that you have total control over your food and your food choices and what happens to that food. You need to know that it’s yours to do with as you please, and no one, and no external authority or diet program will ever take  it away from you again, so until you master this, you may have to get the people you live with to have their own stash of what they love most and tell them not to touch yours and you won’t touch theirs.

So if you are surrounding yourself with large quantities of food, there’s no reason to feel ashamed. You’re in the process of healing some old food hurts.

Hoarding is your subconscious mind’s way of telling you that you’re feeling fearful that someone or something will take this food away from you. Honor your instincts and know that as you get increasingly comfortable having the food around, and knowing that it’s yours, those hoarding instincts will subside.

Are you hoarding food? If so, what foods are in your stash, and most of all, what does having those foods on hand remind you of? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

And if you’d like to join me to learn more about how to overcome emotional eating without the pain of ever having to diet or deprive yourself again, then register for Aimee Serafini’s Loving Food Loving Life Telesummit. I’ll be one of the speakers and I look forward to sharing so much more of what I’ve learned with you.

Loving Food Loving Life