As I prepare to give a talk on Binge Eating at a local University, I think to myself, how can I empower these 20 somethings within my allotted time at the podium? What can I leave them with so that this talk was not wasted? Then it occurs to me, why not talk about the one thing everyone wants to know the answer to but is afraid to ask – “Why is food so much more important to me than it is to all of my friends?”
There is a stigma associated with being a food addict. As a therapist, I speak from experience when I say there is no magic wand to help cure individuals struggling with disordered eating or Binge Eating. One does not get to this unhealthy place with food overnight. There needs to be a delicate balance of professionals in place in order for treatment to be successful. Support from friends and family is crucial.
So how does one begin? Like most addictions, (Binge Eating is no different from other addictions) one must live one day at a time. There was a time when you woke up full of awesome and loved your body. Do you still have it?
Waking Up to Your Awesome
Do you still have the awesome? Did someone take it from you? Are you fighting to get it back? When you were young, you wore grubby shoes, mismatched socks and had unruly hair, and yet, you loved yourself anyway! Do you remember that girl? Is she still inside you?
There’s a stigma associated with being addicted to food. It is no wonder why people hide this addiction and suffer in silence. The body image issues most likely started in puberty when one was uncomfortable with one’s body. And of course our society’s extreme focus on appearance and thinness has not helped. If one is in discord with her body, and then is called fat or ugly, or ostracized for one’s looks, she may internalize comments and utilize an eating disorder to “fix” the problem. Soon, the war with food begins and enemy number one is you.
Take Back the Scale
For national eating awareness week, students have been asked to bring in their scales and then trash them to promote living a healthier lifestyle. In a similar vein, I ask clients to bring in an old book, and we tear out pages, doodle, write and completely transform the book to tell their story. The front cover of the book describes the life they want to live. And the back cover represents the life they are currently living. This is a powerfully creative tool used to represent one’s journey of self-discovery – front to back!
Start a Discussion
Owning your struggles is half the battle. When one feels they can open up about their disorder, it is empowering. By not telling your close friends and family how you obsess over food, you rob them from seeing who you are, flaws and all. Yes, it takes courage but think back to the younger, fearless girl that you once were. She loved her body. She loved the things it could do. She did not fear it. Be her. Tell someone you trust, and you will be surprised by the results.
Why is food more important to me than it is to the rest of my friends, you may ask? One point worth mentioning is, be careful with your thoughts. If you do happen to binge, try these things: 1) forgive yourself 2) tell someone 3) stay grounded-draw something or hold an ice cube. Distract yourself in order to stay present. Last, find your awesomeness!
Please contact me for more helpful community resources and interventions at firstname.lastname@example.org