Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.
Eating Disorder Therapist
Overcome disordered eating and find peace with food
7 insights into understanding your emotions better
by Harriet Frew on February 3rd, 2020

1. If you have disordered eating, you might be out of touch with your emotions. It is likely that this problem preceded issues with food, but it’s probably become a whole lot worse with development of eating disorder behaviours. Restrictive eating, binge eating, purging over-exercise – these are all ‘effective’ ways to numb, distract and dissociate from emotions. The feelings underneath may feel too risky to get in touch with. But cutting off from emotions is massively detrimental to mental wellbeing long-term. You are losing a valuable internal barometer that guides and informs your decisions.

2. Your biology – if you are born being more sensitive (thin-skinned) than others, you will feel your emotions deeply. It will give you the advantage of possibly being more empathic, tuned in and intuitive in communication with others. The downside is that you might feel things to your core and your emotions can feel overwhelming at times.  To manage this, you will need to learn to have ways of protecting yourself from the world at times; learning to set boundaries can be key.

3. Lack of skill – some children are extremely fortunate that through good parenting and also school experiences, they have learned how to regulate their emotions very effectively. They may have taken this on board quite unconsciously, and not even see it as a skill. This has been learned by a caregiver helping the child to name, feel and process emotions helpfully. If you haven’t learned this early on, then there is no reason why you ‘should’ know how to do it. The good news is that new skills can be learned – with emotionally intelligent friends, in therapy or other forms of personal development.

4. Reinforcement of emotions – sometimes we have learned ‘negative’ ways of coping with emotions which have been reinforced by others around us. Eg: shouting and yelling to get what we want, rather than asking for this assertively.  Or adopting pleasing behaviours of compliance and submissiveness (and burying our true emotions), to gain acceptance from those around us. You might feel rejection for revealing your true self.

5. Moodiness – we are all vulnerable to mood fluctuations day to day. Mood can be greatly affected by our self-care (enough sleep, food, rest etc) and also around interactions with others. Gaining mastery over our emotions involves being able to make decisions not just based on our current mood, but what is going to be ‘effective’ for us long-term. Eg: I might feel like not getting out of bed in the morning and going to work. However, I appreciate that getting up is a good thing to do and is going to help me move towards my longer term goals and help me contribute to the things I value.

6. Sea of dyscontrol – sometimes we can feel so overwhelmed by emotions that we can’t see the wood for the trees. We are flooded with emotion and we have to wait for this to subside, to begin to unpick what has happened.

7. Emotional myths – we might hold on to messages from the past that are unhelpful around emotions. Eg: ‘It is weak to show emotion’ or ‘I’ll be exploited if I show how I really feel’.

Are you in touch with your feelings today? What has impacted your relationship with your emotions and food?

Posted in Emotional eating, Emotions    Tagged with anorexia, bulimia, emotions, emotional regulation, Eating Disorder


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Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.