August 21, 2013

The Connection Between Trauma and Disordered Eating--Part 2

This week, we continue Anne Cuthbert's series. In this post, Anne what disordered eating is and the different forms it takes.


What is Disordered Eating
There are three types of eating. There’s “normal” eating. If you’re reading this article, you may not be too familiar with this type of eating. Perhaps you’re more familiar with the two other types of eating: “deprivation sensitive eating” and “emotional eating.”

Deprivation Sensitive Eating
Deprivation sensitive eating is the eating you do when you deprive yourself of foods you want. Deprivation eating is also known as dieting. Therefore, dieting causes deprivation sensitive eating. This type of eating can lead to shame, thinking you’re a failure, self-blame, an increase in your self-critical voice. Each of these diet consequences will never lead to feeling better about yourself, despite longing for it.

A Note about Dieting: Dieting causes weight gain! Crazy, right? This isn’t what the diet industry will tell you (for obvious reasons… and all financial.) In part, this weight gain is due to the desire to binge when dieting. The more you emotionally forbid foods, the more desire for all those forbidden foods you experience. Dieting is a straight shot to binge-ville.  Dieting also causes weight gain because your body doesn’t like to diet – it doesn’t like to lose weight. It’s a pure biological survival mechanism against starvation. To your body, a diet is starvation.  

Perhaps this scenario is familiar… you dieted, lost weight but then gained all that weight back and more! It’s not your fault! And you aren’t alone…this happens to millions every day!

Given the failure rate of dieting (95-98%), the increase in shame and failure feelings, and the increase in binge eating, ending deprivation sensitive eating will help a lot! How? Stop dieting!

Not too easy. I know. It’s scary!

This fear is a good thing! Remember back to when I talked about how disordered eating is a way to push down your feelings? So feeling this fear and allowing it to be there is a very good thing. I’ll talk more about this later.

For now, let’s talk about Addictive Eating

Addictive Eating
Addictive eating is the eating you do to push down all those emotions.

When you were abused (or even just told not to have negative feelings...happy was okay but nothing else), you learned to push away the feelings you experienced. It wasn’t safe to feel those emotions. You had to push them away.

The only problem with this method is… emotions don’t disappear! They’re just pushed down. Over time, a big giant pile of emotion – all the emotion you never let yourself feel, from childhood to the present – is left. That’s a lot of feelings!

That’s why they often feel so overwhelming.

Your unhealthy eating behaviors are saving you from feeling those emotions! Therefore, the way to change your relationship with food and body image is to feel your feelings!

This may sound really scary… and it can be, at first. But I promise you, it will make a huge difference in your life. It will make your disordered eating patterns obsolete. It will help you live a full, authentic life. It will tell you how you feel and what to do in any given situation. It is the direct pathway to true happiness and joy!

After all, if you don’t need to run from your feelings (because you readily feel them), you can do nearly anything!

In the next article, I will share with you how to make your disordered eating obsolete by teaching you how to feel your feelings using your relationship with food. It’s like killing two birds with one stone – or better said—like healing two issues with one approach.

Until next time…


Anne Cuthbert knows first hand what it’s like to deal with food and body issues. As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California and a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oregon, with a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Antioch University, Anne’s counseling experience spans over 12 years. She has studied and worked with experts in the eating disorder field, taught counseling and communication skills classes, and assisted and managed several personal growth seminars and support groups. Anne provides individual and group counseling as well as body image workshops to people who want to make friends with food and peace with their body. 

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