In this episode of How to Live a Life of Peace with Food, I talk about identifying the needs that you most often attempt to meet with food – because if you don’t know what those are, you really won’t know what to do next! This is the second of 3 videos about meeting your needs without resorting to food by default.
FREE worksheet available to download here.
Welcome to my bite-sized video series on How to Live a Life of Peace with Food. This is the second of three videos about meeting your needs without resorting to food by default. In this video, I’m going to talk about identifying the needs that you most often attempt to meet with food – because if you don’t know which those are, you won’t know what to do next!
My name is Vania Phitidis and I am the founder of Peaceful Eating, where I help people stop obsessing about their bodies and what, when and how much to eat, so they feel relaxed around food, at ease in their bodies, and use all that freed up energy to do the things that really matter to them. I’m a certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor, a qualified mindful eating coach and I’ve been mentoring and coaching people for over two decades.
In the last video, I explained why I’m not a fan of the notion of self-sabotage: it’s purely because I don’t think it’s very helpful when you’re trying to understand why you’re not creating the result you want in your relationship with food (or anything else for that matter).
What I think is much more helpful is to understand this concept: every action is an attempt to meet a need.
Instead of blaming and shaming yourself around your so-called ‘self-sabotage,’ you could be asking yourself: what unnoticed and unmet needs have I unwittingly been attempting to meet with food?
If you didn’t watch that video, I suggest you do so now because this next bit is a follow on from that.
Before you can start to meet your needs in appropriate ways, you need to be able to identify them!
That may sound obvious – but if you’ve been meeting a whole host of your needs habitually with food, then identifying them can be quite challenging!
So how do you start decoding your needs?
The obvious question to ask yourself when you reach for food, is ‘am I hungry?’
If you’re hungry – then you know that eating will meet your need for sustenance.
If you’re not hungry, then this is an opportunity to find out which need has arisen.
It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, mustn’t or can’t eat! You ALWAYS have permission to eat, whether you’re hungry or not.
However, if what you want is to shift the nature of your relationship with food, so that most of the time, you’re eating to meet your need for sustenance, then enquiring about why you’re reaching for food when you’re not hungry, is a necessary next step. But it goes further than this: enquiring about what needs are calling for your attention and then learning to meet those needs without resorting to food will not only change your relationship with food; it will change your relationship with yourself – and your whole life will become more satisfying – does that make sense?
Let’s get back to identifying needs.
Once you’ve established that you have an urge to eat and you’re not hungry, the next question to ask yourself is ‘what am I feeling’ or ‘what feeling do I hope eating will create’?
Most of the time we act based on our feelings
We either carry out an action to elicit a feeling we want, or to get rid of a feeling we don’t want. So knowing what we are feeling now or what we want to feel, is a signpost to the need.
If you take a look at the handout I’ve prepared for you, which you can download from here, you’ll see a list of needs, and the feelings or ways of being you’re likely to experience when that need is being met or is not being met.
It can take a bit of detective work because if you’ve got a well-developed habit of meeting a whole host of your needs with food, it’ll take some time and enquiry to recognise the need, so be patient with yourself.
See if anything matches up: it might be that simply by looking at the list of needs, something will jump out at you; if not, check out the feelings. You may need to marry up what you know about what’s been happening in your life with the feelings, to arrive at a need, because there are overlaps – this isn’t an exact science!
For example, say you notice yourself wanting to eat; you’ve checked in with yourself and you know you’re not hungry. You don’t know what you need!
So you ask yourself how you’re feeling. Bored, restless, unsatisfied…
You also ask yourself what feelings you would like the food to elicit: excitement; pleasure.
On the chart, you’ll see that boredom and excitement both match up with a need for Growth or Challenge, and also with a need for Play. If you think about what’s been going on in your life lately – you realise that you haven’t been socialising much because you’ve been very involved with a new project that has taken up a lot of your time and focus. Your best guess is that actually, you could do with a bit of fun in your life – and when you picture yourself having some fun – perhaps laughing and joking around with a friend, you feel an openness in your body. This is a pretty good sign that you’ve hit the nail on the head.
The next step is to work out what you’d like to do that will bring some fun and lightness into your experience… and then do it!
There’s a lot to this topic of meeting your needs without food, and I’m really only scratching the surface of it!
In the next video, I’ll talk to you about one of the biggest barriers to consistently meeting your needs: which is the beliefs that you hold about meeting your needs or having them met by someone else.
I’d love to know if this was useful to you. Please leave your questions and comments below and I will do my best to reply to them personally. If you found it helpful, please do share this video. It might help someone else.
You can change the course of your relationship with food. I’m here for you. And I can’t wait to support you to do just that.
Visit my website where you’ll find hundreds of helpful blogs and links to my free eBook and Facebook Community. If you want tailored, expert and compassionate support in making peace with food, eating and your body – book a free Discovery Session to explore working 1:1.
Until then, bye from me, and I’ll see you in the third and final of this 3-part video series on meeting your needs without resorting to food.