The ACA Code of Ethics tells us that we need to be role models to our clients as well as practice self-care. If you’ve read any of my books or have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am a strong believer in that as well. I have a personal ethic of not asking anything of a client that I wouldn’t be willing to do myself. This has lead to me doing 8-week long meditation programs, exercising daily, signing up for a dance competition to tackle my stage freight, and on and on it goes. It’s not just good for our clients, it’s good for us therapists too!
Lately I’ve been having an interest in emotional-eating and food addiction. I’ve blogged about it a lot, including the fact that counseling is both the #2 most stressful profession and the #2 fattest profession. I don’t think that’s just a coincidence. I do believe that weight-management falls into the category of being a good role model and practicing self-care. So, I decided to do a 10 day juice fast to put my money where my mouth is and I am so glad I did. I learned things about myself that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. Now, I should give a disclaimer. I would not tell a client to do this. We’re counselors not dietitians, and we need to stay in our lane. But I do think it’s a good thing to consider doing for yourself, especially if emotional eating is something you have struggled with.
I have a bmi of 22, so my thought going into this was that emotional eating wasn’t that big of a problem for me. I was wrong. You have no idea how much you depend on food for mood regulation until it goes away. That treat I give myself on Fridays to reward the end of the work week? Gone. The snack I have at the end of the day to unwind and let go of work? Also gone. Going out and having fun on the weekends? Apparently I don’t know how to have fun unless food is involved. By the way, there’s also no alcohol or caffeine while you’re juice fasting, so those emotional crutches are gone as well. Essentially I had to relearn how to regulate myself without relying on a substance or force outside of myself.
In the end I’d say it was well worth it. It’s given me not only personal insight, but also insight I can use to help my clients. A lot of clients come in with weight being a secondary issue they want to work on. Now I feel more prepared to speak to what they are experiencing. For those wondering, yes I did lose weight. I lost 7 pounds in ten days. No, I did not gain it all back. I ended the juice fast almost a week ago and haven’t gained a single pound. I actually lost another half pound since stopping the fast. I was surprised too, but the scale doesn’t lie. Since stopping the fast I have continued to not drink any alcohol and definitely have a better handle on cravings so that’s probably why I have continued to lose weight.