THE BLOG
10/02/2014 04:11 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Is Your Pinocchio Gut Growing?

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Remember Pinocchio, the puppet whose nose grew every time he told a lie? No matter how hard he tried to hide the truth, his own body screamed out for help!

In many ways we're a society of modern-day Pinocchios, but it isn't our noses that are growing, it's our gut. The more we swallow our personal truths by saying "everything's all right" when it isn't, the bigger our bellies become. No matter how hard we run, avoid, accommodate, chase, and mask, our emotional conflicts will always find a place to live in our bodies. How many times have you stood alone in your kitchen, finishing the bag of chips or pint of ice cream and wondering why you're doing this AGAIN, thinking, "Haven't I learned my lesson by now? Where's my willpower?" The epidemic of mindless eating isn't simply a matter of intelligence or willpower -- it's a function of how well we handle stress and the connection between stress and a big belly has been well documented.

The equation is simple, too little truth = too much food.

Ask yourself why you might repeat the pattern of stuffing yourself and not feeling FULL until 30 minutes later when you feel like EXPLODING?

Let's say something's bugging you. Your partner stays on their phone constantly, even at dinner, or maybe your friends dump way too much on you, or your boss has never come through with that promised raise. Maybe you're juggling too many balls, or you're stuck in a false relationship, or you keep saying "yes" when your gut is screaming "no." You're bottling it up inside, but you don't feel free to say so. Instead you choose silence. Keeping quiet becomes a slow burning lie. It may not be a big blatant lie but a definite violation of your authenticity because silence represses the very things that make you most yourself -- your emotions. The silence can become so uncomfortable that all you want to do is numb that discomfort with an immediate compulsive escape. The fear and avoidance take up a nice cozy residence within your gut, which stretches more and more to accommodate whatever you cram down it, Now you're not only living dishonestly and inauthentically, you're also becoming unhealthy. Before you know it, this shame cycle takes another spin.

In a way, the pattern makes sense. As infants, we're taught to seek comfort and love through food. The first thing we learn is that if we cry or wiggle in frustration, somebody will feed us. We are hardwired with the impulse to soothe anxiety with food before we can even walk or talk. Our nightly pint of Ben and Jerry's is just an updated version of mother's milk. We're adults now with a choice. Rather than automatically self-soothing with food, we have the option of actually telling people what we want and walking away from situations we've outgrown.

So if your Pinocchio Gut is growing, take the next week and try an experiment in honesty. Face up to a truth you're avoiding. Have the courage to have clarifying conversations and put more attention on the words coming out of your mouth instead of the food going into your mouth. Listen to your telepathic stomach and learn to read the signals your body is sending you.

A gut instinct tells a lot more than "I'm hungry." Once you begin listening to it, you'll begin to feel lighter in both body and spirit. An honest conversation could save your waistline -- and maybe your life.

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