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2 July 2021 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others.”
— Brene Brown —

I am overwhelmed by the messages of support and care in response to last week’s blog. My deepest thanks to everyone who reached out. I felt so connected  and touched by the warmth of each message. It made me think of our shared common humanity and that it doesn’t matter where we are in the world, we are connected in our fear, our heartache and our joys. It’s this connection that we are truly hungry for – this support.

When we reach out for food as comfort, what we are actually reaching out for is soothing words, a reassuring hug, maternal nurturing.
The solution is not to use food as a reassuring hug.
As much we would like to, we cannot escape unpleasant emotions in our lives.
We will turn to things like eating, shopping, drinking or working to dull the pain.
We can distract and dull but it only delays the inevitable.

When comfort and nurturing are not available to us, how do we process our emotions?

A circumstance will trigger an emotion.
Your mind is flooded with thoughts about the problem and you are overwhelmed with thoughts about it.
As you think about it, you experience discomfort in your body.
At this point, you have a choice.
You can avoid it, which will cause it to fester or you eat and drink adding emotional and physical pain in an attempt to resist it.
By resisting and reacting you may get angry at people around you, blame and argue and think it’s not fair. The feeling will remain and morph into other emotions, layering emotion on emotion.

Choosing to feel our pain is often met with reluctance because it feels uncomfortable.
When we stop resisting and choose to feel our emotions, we eventually see that the experience is unpleasant but for the most part, tolerable.
When processing emotional pain, it helps to notice it in your body.
You could even say to yourself “this is what it feels like to experience emotions in my body”.
In order to release the emotion, we need to acknowledge that we are holding it.
Bring your attention to your body and notice how you experience it.
Is it a heaviness or tightness in the belly, throat or chest?
Breathe into it. The breath helps to ease the emotion.
By repeating this process and allowing it to take as long as it needs, you will notice that you may be able to release the grip of the feeling.

If you have experienced trauma it’s advisable to work gently with emotions. Starting with easier feelings. When working with strong emotions, Pema Chodron recommends that:

“we stay present with strong emotion only very briefly at first. The instruction is: short moments again and again. Rather than trying to endure prolonged exposure to intense feeling, we touch in for only two or three seconds, then pause and breathe gently before touching in again. Or we might simply stay with the troubling feeling for five or six minutes and then go on with our day, more in touch with our emotions and, therefore, less likely to be dragged around by them.”

Processing emotions is painful. When we are able to do it, we come through to the other side (often with tears), feeling cleansed and empowered that we can tolerate our emotions.

The support of a community gives you the courage and strength to come to terms with your feelings. Thank you to this community for your support, which enabled me to deal with my emotions. Whether it’s simply to say hello, share a story or reach out for support, your messages are always welcome in this space.

 

Wishing you peace and grace.
Xen

✨ Do you feel you could use some support with your eating? Book a free mini session and let’s talk about how I can help you.

✨ Find out more about what my clients say about our work together.

“From our first meeting - two faces on Zoom across the world from each other, there was a sense of familiarity and comfort that was a healing balm for a lifetime of food struggles and dieting. Without realizing how much damage I had done to myself by adhering, for decades, to restrictive food plans and rigid diet programs, Xen had a way of redirecting the harsh and negative self-talk and sending me forth each week with compassion, mindfulness and a new way of seeing myself in the here and now. Gone are the maybe somedays, and if-only, and when-I’m-smaller thinking. Now I am committed to the imperfect and rocky path to listening to my body, accepting my perfect imperfections, and rejecting diet mentality. Those negative voices will revisit me from time to time, I know, but Xen has offered valuable tools for meeting each day as a fresh start - another choice, another chance. Her devotion to this work and her belief in her clients is a remarkable gift; I am so fortunate to have found her. It is never too late to let go of the drama and embrace joy, ease and self-acceptance.”

Karen L, Denver, USA

“I felt hopeless and helpless in my daily struggle with mindless eating for many years. Then I found Xen which is exactly what I needed! My decision to work with her helped me to finally repair my relationship with food. It's changing my life for the better, one day at a time. Now I have control over the food, instead of it having control over me, which is the way it should be. I highly recommend Xen to anyone who has a desire to overcome similar food struggles. Xen, thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

Karen J, Colorado, USA

“I reached out to Xenia because 2021 started on a tumultuous note for me. Between deaths, businesses suffering, hospitalizations, and job losses in our personal circle, I felt depleted and found myself being available for everyone but myself. Then I was hit with an unexpected health diagnosis, which was the last straw as it meant giving up “healthy foods” and workouts that I leaned on for my well-being and stability. Despite working in wellness (Yes, coaches and healers are vulnerable too!), I found myself reaching out to desserts for comfort. I like to live a life of permissions (not labels or deprivation leading to bingeing), so I wanted to work with someone who approached healing from a place of mindful compassion. I didn’t want to be my own client. Xenia was great in reminding me to be kind to myself. Working with her, brought me peace and helped shift my mindset. I love how desserts and I look at each other now.”

Sweta Vikram, New York, USA

“Working with Xenia was amazing. She armed me with a bunch of tools to help me through difficult times. Xenia is the kind of person who really cares for helping you in the long run. Her work will forever have an impact in my life.”

Daniela Velásquez, Ottawa, Canada

“Working with Xen was a game changer for me. After working together for a few months my relationship with food radically changed. I no longer felt like a failure. I now have the tools to nourish my body with foods that feel good in my body. I don’t feel guilty about eating cake or chocolate, I also don’t overeat cake and chocolate. I no longer feel the need to exercise to compensate for my eating. I feel much more free around eating and I am more accepting of my body. Xen has a nonjudgmental and compassionate approach to coaching and really supports you in the process.”

Rachel, Dublin, Ireland

“Working with Xen has been very empowering. Her approach is so refreshing from the usual. I have learned that I am in charge and that I get to choose what I put in my body and how to move my body in a way that I like! I get to make my own choices. It’s so liberating. Once you get a taste of freedom with food, there is no turning back to old ways! Thanks Xen for guiding me along the way to freedom.”

Heather B, Cork. Ireland

“This is the answer for those of you that struggle with food and all that surrounds it. Xenia said that I could make peace with food and it seemed at the time like an impossible dream. Turns out it isn’t. I recommend Xen and the mindful eating / intuitive eating approach unreservedly. If you have any questions about my experience, please get in touch. Thank you Xen. My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”

Michelle, Johannesburg, South Africa

“Xenia was a walking, living, breathing example of what can be done. I laughed and cried my way through a short course in this fascinating and invigorating programme with her, and have gained a designer tote full of coping skills that go way beyond containing kilogrammes. I feel infinitely lighter. I am doing this for me and, yes, you can do this for you too! And believe me, I’m cynical!”

Diana, Vancouver, Canada

“I don’t obsess about food like I used to. I am thinking differently about food and feeling so much more relaxed around all types of food. It’s wonderful to have pleasure and satisfaction from eating.”

Sarah, Illinois, USA

“I learned a new way of thinking about food. I have learned that food is not the enemy and that it can actually be enjoyed with no guilt.”

Sandy, London, United Kingdom

Certified by The Life Coach School Certified and Trained by The Original Intuitive Eating Pro Professional Member of The Center for Mindful Eating