Geneen Roth wrote a book almost 20 years ago called When Food Is Love. Of course, this is using food when what you are really craving is love. A common theme that I’ve noticed in women with eating disorders is this sense of unworthiness or a belief that they are not loveable. It’s incredible to notice that what you might do with your food is what you might do with your life. Binge eating and binge loving are one in the same. Real love vs. fake love is similar to real food vs. fake food. We can tend to binge on the fake stuff more easily than the real stuff.
Real Love vs. Fake Love:
Real love grows slowly and is based on years of trust, problems, fun, tragedy, grief, drama, trauma, blessings, caring for one another and learning about one another. Real love is deep, lasting, and unpainful. Fake love is a quick flash in the pan that feels like being very, very drunk. It’s intoxicating and uncomfortable and painful and urgent. Then you have a terrible hangover from it. Then it’s over. And you realize that it wasn’t actually love. It was chemicals, hormones, anxiety, and fear. It was something that you were using to help you to feel better about something else that was going on in your life (kind of like the way binge eaters and bulimics use food!) The problem with real love vs. fake love is that fake love is so intense and uncomfortable, that comparing it to real love, which tends to be much easier and sedating can really mess with your perception of what is real. Real love can begin to not feel like love at all anymore because it doesn’t have that intense edge, it’s doesn’t elicit the same chemicals.
I have seen a great deal of overlap in my practice with women who use food to help them to escape and women who use love and sex to help them escape. There are often affairs, infidelity or just becoming obsessed with unavailable people. These affairs are short lived and problematic to either a marriage or a psyche. Women who become obsessed with unavailable men are escaping from their lives and obsessing on something that is just not going to happen. This can bring forth so much pain, stress and anxiety. It can also keep them from nurturing healthy relationships with otherwise available people or with their husbands or partners. Those fake love chemicals are just so strong that people can feel high from them. Comparing fake love to real love is like comparing the high you get from doing yoga and meditating to staying up all night blowing lines of coke and doing shots of tequila. One is healthy, and something that you can do forever, it’s a long lasting but less intense high. The other is dangerous, depressing, intense, and probably feels wonderful briefly. But if you really are craving a high, you’re going to opt for the latter. All you can do after that night is recover.
Real Food vs. Fake Food
As we know, either obsessing about eating food, or not eating food (dieting), having a perfect body or finding the perfect binge food or the perfect time to binge,– is an effective escape from reality. Fake food like donuts and Cheetos and Pepsi might be more appealing to binge on than yogurt, wheat germ, alfalfa sprouts and broccoli. The fake food gives you a quick seratonin boost and makes you temporarily numb to anything else going on the world. While the real food, though not as exciting provides real nurturing and can help you to be healthy both physically and emotionally.
Do you ever binge on fake food when you’re actually needing real love? Do you ever binge on fake love when you’re actually looking to escape?
It’s more difficult to distinguish fake love from fake food, but the following questions related to figuring out if it’s fake food or not, might also help you to figure out the love thing.
Is it something that will nurture your body and your spirit?
Could you eat this every day for the rest of your life?
Will your body feel uncomfortable after eating this food?
Can you eat just the right amount of it without bingeing on it?
Are you eating this food in private (are you isolating with it?) or is it okay to eat this right out in the open?
Is this food nourishing? Will it help you grow or heal?
Stop what you’re doing for a second just to think about what you’re doing. Not just with eating, but with everything. It can often be illuminating.