So many people think that Disordered Eating, Emotional Eating, & Eating Disorders involve simply changing the way you eat. It makes sense because the titles of these issues all involve the word “eat” so people automatically think about food when wanting to get help. But recovering from disordered eating involves working on so many other things besides the food and people are often surprised to hear that.
Why would you not focus on food when recovering from disordered eating? When you are triggered to eat or not eat in an unhealthy way, what is going on? The first step of the unhealthy cycle always begins at your thoughts and emotions. Something happens that will trigger you to feel insecure, upset, depressed, or anxious and then your disordered eating thoughts & behaviors come into play.
Instead of dealing with the emotion your mind is now focused on how to avoid calories, purge, binge or restrict food. Your mind has no time to deal with the anxiety, stress, or emotion that triggered any of this. You use your disordered eating behaviors as a way to cope with your emotions, that way you don’t’ have to actually feel them.
So if it’s not about the food then what is it about? It’s about the underlying issues. It’s about the desire to be in control, the desire to be liked and approved by others, poor self-esteem & self-image, perfectionism, lack of coping skills, having a phobia of not being good enough, it’s about filling up the emptiness inside of you and the need to be distracted. It’s about how you talk to yourself, how you treat yourself. It’s about the internal battle that you struggle with daily. If you simply focus on food nothing will change.
It’s about working on you, and changing who you are inside. And to be honest, that is so much harder than working on the food, eating patterns, etc. But it’s where the real change occurs and where you truly find freedom from disordered eating. It’s where change happens and you find hope that you don’t have to live this way anymore. That your days don’t have to be spent obsessing about the food you eat, counting calories and feeling guilty after a binge. There is a way out of this and there are people that know how to help!
Danielle Swimm, LCPC: Danielle is a holistic psychotherapist that specializes in eating issues. She’s a wellness enthusiastic with a passion for mind, body health. She works with clients struggling with emotional eating, eating disorders, insomnia and anxiety. She offers psychotherapy at her Annapolis office.