Over involvement with food, food thoughts, and food behaviors are the means by which some individuals deal with intense feelings or negative thoughts. They may eat or restrict food to numb or avoid feelings that they believe they cannot deal with, or simply to numb out or shut out negative thoughts and feelings about themselves. In this way they become disconnected from themselves and their feelings. They may also feel empowered by restricting food.
Food behaviors may be used:
as a mechanism for coping with emotional difficulties
to quiet negative self-beliefs
to numb feelings
as a way to feel in control
as a way to nurture oneself
Unhealthy eating behaviors add to one's problems by affecting one's physically, mental, and emotionally health. The individual uses food related behaviors to deal with feeling and thoughts that are in many ways caused by the eating behavior. For example, the physically symptoms of blood sugar imbalance often caused by periods of food restriction may be interpreted as anxiety and trigger the desire to binge.
For some individuals weight is an issue. Weight may yo-yo up and down for years. The individual often feels like a failure when in actuality it is underlying issues that need to be addressed. The weight may be a buffer against intimacy. There may be as much fear of losing weight as there is desire to lose the weight.
Compulsive overeating, binge eating, food restricting, and/or binging and purging are addictive behaviors that are deeply tied to how one feels about oneself. The behaviors may start out innocently but may lead to years of self-condemnation, secrecy, and isolation.
Therapy provides information, support, and an empathetic ear, fosters self-awareness and understanding, and leads to a healthy and happy life where food can simply be food.
For more information on eating disorders click on the following links: