August 27, 2013

The Connection Between Trauma and Disordered Eating--Part 3

This week, we wrap up Anne Cuthbert's series. In this post, Anne shares the key to connecting with feelings in order to heal and break out of disordered eating. She also has a free bonus at the end, so be sure to check it out!


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The Secret to Healing: Feel Your Feelings

So you use food to push down your feelings. That’s okay. Millions of women (and lots of men) do too. You are not alone! But you can get out of this pattern.

As I’ve mentioned in the last two articles, the way to heal is to feel your feelings.

It makes sense. If you use food to push down your feelings, then allowing your feelings to surface, so you can feel them and thus heal them should work. And it does!

The challenge is that with this huge pile of emotions and the long time, well developed skill of pushing them down, can lead to a few snags in the road to feeling.

This is where your relationship with food and your body can help you! After all, if you’re using food to push down those feelings, why not use changing your interactions with food to help bring them up.

The key is to take one small step at a time toward becoming a “normal” eater. Like pealing the layers off an onion, this is what will bring up the emotions underneath.

For example, I talked about ending deprivation sensitive eating by completely stopping dieting and “legalizing” all foods. This is a great way to end binge eating… and a great way to bring up the feeling of fear. On the surface, this fear appears to be a fear of gaining weight. But let’s look a little further underneath.

What happens when you gain weight?

Instead of just trying to answer this question, try closing your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and feel the answer. Imagine yourself gaining weight…what do you imagine? Feel it. You likely imagine being teased, or rejected, or a desire to isolate. What would happen if you were rejected or teased or isolated? You would be alone, right? And if you were alone, how would you feel? Sad? Hurt? You might even feel unloved or unlovable. So if we follow this feeling back to the original fear and connect the two… your fear of gaining weight is really a fear of being unloved! This fear of being unloved came from childhood. And it’s a very intense feeling! So avoiding it by trying very hard not to gain weight was a good decision. The only problem is that it never leads you to feeling loved.

Therefore, allow your fear of gaining weight to really be about fear of not being loved (or whatever resonates with you) and you can then address the true, underlying emotion.

What does that fear of being unloved really want? What does it need? Now give that want/need to yourself or get it from someone that loves you now. If this exercise brings up tears or another emotion, great! Keep feeling. Keep letting those feelings surface. After you do so, you will feel a lift…relief.

Your emotions main desire is to be heard, validated, understood and cared about. So do your best to give them those things… from you or from another, it doesn’t matter. Once your emotions get this acknowledgement, you will feel relief and eventually you won’t need dieting to help you feel loved. You will just feel loved!

Keep feeling your feelings by continuing, step-by-step, to move toward “normal” eating. Each step along the way will help you get in touch with the underlying emotions. For more steps to help you do this, please listen to the recording in which Rachel interviewed me. In it, I go over all the steps to becoming a normal eater and to healing the underlying emotions. Click here to get the recording!


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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. 

Go to: www.foodisnottheenemy.com to learn more and receive a free gift to help you get started.

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