Problems Beyond Eating
When I started working on healing my own disregulated eating back in the late 1970s, I had no idea that my problems ran far beyond food. I voraciously began reading books and entered therapy thinking, It’s just eating, I can fix that. Boy, was I wrong and now I’m glad because I understand how clients feel when they begin their recovery.
Disregulated eaters have historical problems and dysfunctional patterns that trip them up and prevent them from living up to their potential as well as muck up their eating. The problem is they often don’t realize it. We think we have problems with food, but our food problems show us that we have problems with life. I recall one of my earliest clients coming to see me for overeating and leaving the first session disappointed and angry that there was so much work for her to do to clear up her eating. She came to see me hoping to solve one problem and left having discovered a whole host of other ones.
For those of you still thinking that it’s just about food, let me describe the breadth of issues disregulated eaters deal with. A surprising number have been raped or sexually abused. All have had dysfunctional childhoods to greater or lesser extent. Many suffered severe physical abuse–mothers cracking them over the head with a high heel (you’d be surprised at how many raging mothers do this), fathers who beat them with belts, and parents who wouldn’t take them to the hospital when they had burns or broken bones. Others just got a slap or a shove or cowered under their beds when Mom or Dad came home drunk and was looking to hurt someone.
The majority had parents who were highly narcissistic, emotionally unstable, unpredictable, and put their needs above their children’s needs. They were rigid, unsupportive, controlling, needy, critical, manipulative, or shaming, hurting their children in large and small ways. A large number had a parent who drank or had mental illness or a serious personality disorder, or all three. Many had to take care of younger siblings or incompetent parents and fend for themselves emotionally. Many had parents who were too depressed to care for them, so dependent on their children that they wouldn’t let them grow up, or so full of anxiety that their children became nervous wrecks. Some had parents who fought constantly, had affairs, or shut each other out emotionally.
These serious family dysfunctions affect more than your eating. It’s these problems and resultant lack of life skills that keep you stuck with food. Work on resolving these historical issues and, I promise, food will become less of a problem.
Normal Eating talks and media events
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