Erin Lanahan Method

Signature method to get fit from the inside out!

Nutrition Tuesday- “Food is not Medicine” July 14, 2009

It may feel good in the process, but this will only result in feeling far worse than you did before eating such garbage. Food is not meant to be used for pain relief!!!


Today, I dedicate this article to one of my dearest clients, who is still just a bit stuck on the roller-coaster of using food to self-medicate. We had a long talk this morning about her day yesterday, and she confessed all the binging she did as a result of feeling a bit lost, sad, and lonely. Unfortunately, many people suffer from this same addiction. Food can very much be used like a drug to suppress our feelings and smother what is really going on. You see, I too have been in that place before, however, I have overcome the addiction and finally have a very healthy relationship with food. It was when I started being present to the feelings underneath my eating habits, that finally lead me to change my actions.

I believe, that there are different types of hunger. Binging, is something we do when we are feeling very hungry for something and when we have cravings beyond our human understanding. For myself, I have realized that what I am hungry for is to experience something much bigger than myself, through my own creativity and self-expression. However, when I am unsure of what it is that longs to be expressed through me and by me, I tend to get very overwhelming feelings of anxiety, stress, and sadness sometimes resulting in an empty feeling in my tummy. In the past, I would eat food for comfort, trying to fill that void I felt so deep inside. The only problem was, that food never could really help me. I felt good while eating, but as soon as I stopped, I was in an even worse place than I was before. This is the same as drugs and alcohol. We use things outside of ourselves to distract us, sooth our pain, and to make us supposedly feel better. In the end, all we wake up with is a big fat hangover, whether its from food, drugs, or alcohol. They are all very much the same.

What my client and I talked about is how important it is for her not to beat herself up when she has a day of eating herself into oblivion. It is a very low energy reaction and has no effective outcome. So we discussed alternative ways of processing what is really happening in the present moment. I asked her if she could start looking at each obstacle as an opportunity instead. Or another way I recently heard this put is “may the detour, instead be the path.” In other words, don’t look at “falling off the wagon” as back tracking, but look at it as just a part of the process, and try to enjoy every part of the learning. Becoming the best version of ourselves takes time, effort, work, and patience. Every time we do something that ultimately feels bad, we have a chance to remember not to take the same actions again and again, only to get the same results. She, however, had to also be reminded that she is already on her way to the next fitness level. She has lost 50 lbs over the last 3 years, but she’s ready to step things up and take off the last 20. Meanwhile, she has stuck to a training program longer than she ever has before, and she is beginning to get to the point of taking it upon herself, when she isn’t seeing me, to get out there and move her body. She is getting her own healthy relationship with exercise, and that is a huge part of being successful in terms of loosing weight and keeping it off. So it’s about shifting her focus to the positive things in her life, rather than wallowing in the negative.

Like I said to her, and now to you, once you change yourself internally, and set your intentions for what you want and see for yourself, your external self and actions will eventually just follow the lead.

Are you struggling with loosing unwanted weight? Do you find yourself on that diet/binging roller-coaster? What types of things are you facing that feel like obstacles in your own life? I would love to be of service and help you work through these things! Just leave your questions/comments here for me on the blog!!! Here’s To Your Health!!!!!


2 Responses to “Nutrition Tuesday- “Food is not Medicine””

  1. Heidi Says:

    As a longtime client of Erin Lanahan’s, and a woman who has had major food / body issues since my days as a gymnast starting when I was 3, todays post really made an impact on me.
    Recovering from the using food as medication habit is a real project, but it is such important work to do if u have this issue.

    It is a relearning process and you must be very gentle with yourself and know that learning not to beat yourself up for bingeing is part of learning how to do it less and less and less.

    It is something I work on contually, but the work gets easier and easier…I swear.

    One approach, believe me I have tried them all, that really helped me a lot was to almost overshoot a little with my meals during the day.

    Sometimes a night binge, that is when I would binge (either before I went to bed / or I would wake up at 3am and eat cake and ice cream and whatever e;se i could find) is, in part, triggered by not eating enough during the day.

    It took me a long time 2 realize that if u deprive yourself during the day (see no carbohydrates, fat, yummy satisfying food), you make it totally beyond your control to resist bingeing.

    The more I track this issue, the more I see that the nights I wake up wanting to binge pretty well line up with the days when I have eaten not enough times or not enough calories or not enough good calories.

    Of course I wake up, sometimes, wanting to binge when I have had enough calories as well. But THAT is a different thing.

    I find it very helpful to be able to separate emotional binge occasions from hunger binge occasions. Because the way you work your way through each is different and clearer than lobbing them into 1 group.

    Just last night I woke up and ate a pb and j sandwhich with milk at 2am, and I know its because I didn’t eat enough for dinner.

    I thought about having a snack around 10, but I thought “Oh no, its too late…I’ll just store it”.

    But I should have had it because it would have prevented the hunger meal.

    My advice to anyone with this issue is to challenge yourself / experiment with eating substantial meals 4-5 times a day (2-3 hours between not more) and see what your hunger is like when u do that.

    Example of substantial:
    lunch: 2 pieces ezekiel bread, 4 oz lean turkey, 2 oz avocado 2tsp full fat mayo, tomato, sprouts. And a big white nectarine.

    I’m serious…don’t skimp…and don’t do just protein and veggies for dinner…have a baked potato (a big one) with a tbs of 1/2 fat butter and salt . then have 5 oz of grilled chicken or fish and a huge salad with 1 tbs olive oil and vinegar.

    for a snack have a banana and 1/2 cup cottage cheese.

    Really eat!

    I know its scary, but it is a really good exercise to c if it calms u for later on.

    Separating hunger binges from emotional binges is a good step toward dealing with both.

    I have a little tummy pooch today from my late night pb and j. I am trying to laugh at it instead of yelling at it.

    And I’m going to eat a big breakfast.
    6 egg whites with broccoli and two TBS parmesan cheese cooked in pam.
    2 pieces ezekiel bread with 1tbs lowfat margarine and 1tbs jam.

    plenty of people and trainers will say this is too much food…but I know better. I know my body.

    Keep on going Erin’s mystery client. I am rooting for you and know I was exactly where u r a while back.

  2. erinsadventures Says:

    Heid brings up a very good point here. Another thing we must do to control binging habits is to make sure we are controlling our blood sugar with a healthy, balanced diet throughout the day, never allowing ourselves to get deprived of proper calories and/or nutrition. She has learned a lot about that, as a result of her own process.

    Also, I said “food is not medicine” but actually it can be if you are eating the right foods. It’s just the wrong foods that we use for comfort that actually hurt us in the end. Whole foods and foods that are organic and nutritent rich, can be used as medicine, and they CAN heal us of many things:) Here’s To Your Health!!!

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