Mothering Ourselves With Food

Mothering Ourselves With Food

Filed Under: Emotional Eating

10 May 2024 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

In many countries around the world, this Sunday is about celebrating Mother’s Day. The day can bring up a mix of emotions, from joy and gratitude to sadness and grief. I have conflicted feelings about these days – Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, New Year’s Eve. Sometimes I feel like they are “compulsory celebration” days yet they can also be an opportunity for gratitude and acknowledgement.

As a mother whose daughter has been abroad for over two years, I can relate to the bittersweet feeling of missing the handmade cards, coffee in bed and flowers from the garden. Similarly, as a daughter whose mother lives far away, I understand the ache of being separated from someone who has played such a significant role in shaping who I am today. This is also the first year without my mother-in-law in our lives.

As I was reflecting on Mother’s Day, I couldn’t help but think about the link between food and mothering. For me, food has been both a source of comfort and a trigger for shame. My mother, who was orphaned at a young age, struggled to express her love and affection in ways other than through food or shopping. While I appreciated her efforts to buy me my favourite foods, her comments about my weight left me feeling confused and inadequate. On the one hand it was “look I bought you your favourite chocolate but don’t eat too much of it, you will put on weight”. She even bribed me with gifts if I reached my “goal weight” as a result, growing up and well into my adult years I equated my worth to my weight.

I turned to food as a way to cope with my feelings of anxiety, and low self-worth. Only when I started to heal my relationship with food and address the underlying emotional wounds did I realise that what I truly hungered for was not food, but affection, understanding and connection. I know that I’m not alone in this experience. Many of my clients have turned to food as a way to fill the void. We may have grown up in families where our needs for emotional and psychological support were not fully met, or we may have experienced trauma or loss that left us feeling disconnected and alone. In times like this, food is a way to cope with our feelings, to fill the hole in our hearts and numb the pain. In times like this, food provides a sense of safety and control, a full belly gives us a sense of feeling grounded.

Food becomes a substitute for the nurturing and care that we need or needed growing up. While food can provide temporary relief or pleasure, it cannot heal the wounds that we carry inside. It is challenging work to break these patterns, it requires courage and a deep level of self-reflection.

But by recognising that we are seeking something deeper than food – like acceptance and a sense belonging, we can look for other ways to meet our needs. We can learn how to mother ourselves by developing a compassionate and nurturing relationship with ourselves and cherishing ourselves as we would a child. This could look like setting boundaries, learning to say no, taking time to rest or talking to ourselves with kindness and patience as we learn these new skills.

Learning to mother ourselves is a journey that requires courage and vulnerability. So, as we celebrate Mother’s Day and the Mother figures in our lives, let us also celebrate ourselves and commit to nurturing ourselves with love and kindness.

May you feel nurtured and loved.

✨ Are you eating to fill the void in your life? Do you want to heal your relationship with food? Book a free 30 minute session and let’s talk about how I can support you on this journey.

“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