Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.
Eating Disorder Therapist
Overcome disordered eating and find peace with food
Is my eating problem just a bad habit?
by Harriet Frew on June 15th, 2015

‘It’s a destructive habit; I just feel compelled to do it again and again; nothing else brings the same satisfaction and reward;  it frustrates me because there is nothing really wrong with my life; I don’t get anything from doing this anymore’.
You may feel that your obsession with food and your body is simply a bad habit that has become firmly engrained in the routine of your life; like a stubborn mule not wanting to shift from the safety of its familiar territory where life feels secure and predictable. It probably frustrates you deeply at times and confuses you immensely as to why you can’t just snap out of it.
Yes, in part, disordered eating certainly has a habit driven quality to it. Only certain foods are eaten with feelings of safety and control; social events, particularly involving buffets or new restaurants might regularly trigger eating distress; eating chocolate, cake, pizza or chips – the common desire to overeat and consume with abandon, discarding all previous willpower and rules in one fell swoop.  However, I believe strongly that an eating problem is infinitely more complex and often has a strong emotional component driving it.
The connection to your inner world

Underneath your bingeing or controlling food, there are likely to be some emotions that might be locked away with the key discarded, firmly in a box within your psyche. There might be feelings that are hard to name; tune into; accept or to even articulate. You might not even give these feelings any air-time (hence the box being locked); as maybe you feel that you shouldn’t feel like this. Even allowing in these feelings into your mind chatter might seem to be against your morals and the expectations that you have of yourself. You might feel very confused as you try to reconcile your emotional world with the more rational and logical part of yourself.
Maybe there is much invested in the role that you present to the world: - ‘the easy going one; the one everyone likes; the quiet and accommodating one; the one that makes everyone else feel at ease; the social butterfly who always is full of smiles and energy’ as just a few examples. In part, you may embrace, accept and value this part of you. To a certain extent, this is probably true to who you are. The problems can arise when you feel restricted or confined to consistently present as this person to the outside world, when thoughts and feelings conflict with this role.  You might bury them inside and these can often then be expressed through your relationship with food and your body. Eg: bingeing when you feel angry, upset or let down but unable to talk about this openly; restricting when you feel scared about failing to achieve your goals or the expectations you have of yourself; or focusing in on your perceived body flaws when you are feeling inadequate about something else.
So how to begin to change this?
5 ways to embrace your feelings without turning to food
1. Pause. When you are feeling unsettled or ‘bad’, stop for a moment. Dare to tune in and think about how you are feeling. Maybe you don’t know straight away; but be patient and give yourself time. Trust that by asking the question, that you will begin to find answers as you slow down to connect with your inner world. 

2. Think of feeling words that might articulate your current state.  If it is hard to think of the right word, think also of images or pictures that spring to mind.  Also you might note how you are feeling in your body. All these different approaches to connecting with your inner world can provide valuable clues.

3. Accept the feeling; whatever it is. Try not to place judgement on it. We all feel angry, upset, furious; guilty; scared; ashamed; sad; jealous; and envious at times. Try not to push the feeling away but to just feel it without judging. If you feel guilty about feeling a certain way, then be curious and questioning about the appropriateness of your guilt.

4. Express. If you feel able to, talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling. If you are not able to do this, write it down, say it out loud.  You might even express it though something physical eg: punching a pillow; going for a walk; screaming.

5. Try not to block or dissociate. You might feel very tempted to block or dissociate from the feeling by focusing on food or your body. Trust that you can stay with the feeling. Whatever you are feeling now will pass and is likely to reduce in its intensity. Sometimes nothing can be done right now to ease the feeling and it might be just accepting that. At times, something can be done, and you can begin to think about how you can process your feeling and if you want to take any action. 

If you relate to this article and you would like to get some support in feeling better about your body image and managing your eating, then please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you. I am passionate about helping you to eat all the foods you love and have a great body image, without disordered eating or dieting.

Posted in Emotions, Motivation and change, Habit    Tagged with Eating problem, habit, Eating Disorder, feelings, emotions


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Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.