Internal Family Systems (IFS therapy)
It is the nature of the mind to be subdivided into a number of subpersonalitites (parts) with Self leading the internal system. These parts arise as a person develops and can change rapidly as the system is reorganized (through therapy). While no parts are considered bad and each contributes a positive effect in non-extreme expression, when out of balance, a part may be expressed in an extreme manner contributing to dysfunction or undesirable patterns of behavior. Parts can be experienced as thoughts, feelings, sensations, images, words, sounds, inner voices, physical symptoms, patterns of behavior, reactions, etc. Parts can take on a role of a manager that can take over Self and control, a firefighter that protects other parts or distract and exiles that have been isolated, often being hidden away and holding painful emotions, from wounds during development.
The purpose for IFS treatment is NOT to get rid of any parts! It is important to recognize all the parts and their intended purpose, get to know them and their relationship with other parts, differentiate them from Self, and help parts to release their burden and find a preferred role in the system. The goal is to develop the Self by expanding Self energy, unite the parts into Self and let the Self lead.
So, what does this have to do with nutrition and diet?
It has been my experience that people know, in general, which food are healthy and which not. Most people have tried to stay on a ‘diet’ before. Following a healthy eating plan is important for one’s health and it is important to get help creating the best individual plan for you. However, I believe the bigger issue is less about what a person eats and more about why and how they eat – their food/eating behaviors. Many eating patterns developed when a person was young and growing up – sometimes a person eats the same way and sometimes they develop extreme patterns to avoid eating that way. Often, emotions and parts become involved.
Some patterns/parts involve control – calorie restriction, fat phobia, food avoidance, rigid choices, obsession, perfectionism
Some patterns/parts involve distraction – cravings, addictions, binging, treating oneself, impulsive, sabotaging diet, anxious, shame, diagnosed eating disorders
Some patterns/parts involve numbing/hiding – emotional eating, stress eating, eating in secret, body image issues, excess weight
Therefore, rather than simply suggesting a person use will power and determination to change their habits, applying the IFS model helps to identify parts that may be involved, recognize their origin, learn about and release their burdens, and build the Self . Then we can create a life and eating plan that can be easy to follow and promote the fabulous health you seek!
Having parts is completely normal – you are not crazy!
All parts intentions are initially to be helpful/protective
Parts want to be seen and acknowledged (witnessed) and unburdened
All parts are part of the Self; each part has Self in it