Eating Disorders or Disordered Eating
How is your relationship with food?
Many people struggle with their relationship with food and it is easy to understand why when we consider the diet culture society inflicts on us.
According to Very Well Fit (What Is Diet Culture? (verywellfit.com)) diet culture refers to, ‘the pervasive belief that appearance and body shape are more important than physical, psychological, and general well-being. It’s the idea that controlling your body, particularly your diet—by limiting what and how much you eat—is normal.
Diet culture also normalizes labeling foods as good or bad and thinking of food as transactional—something that you either earn or don’t deserve depending on how you’ve eaten and worked out. Not only is food labeled, but people may label themselves as good or bad for consuming these foods.
People who have been conditioned to accept diet culture as a normal way of life may have a poor self-image, regularly participate in negative self-talk, and believe that being thin makes a person better than someone who is not. They may also have an all-or-nothing mentality.’
It is this kind of belief system that can spiral into disordered eating.
It is important to note that there are differences between disordered eating and an eating disorder. According to Very Well Mind (Difference Between Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders (verywellmind.com)), they can be differentiated as follows:
Signs you may have disordered eating or disordered thought processes about food!
– frequent dieting
– feelings of guilt/shame after eating
– negative feelings towards certain food types and groups
– weight fluctuations
– anxiety around mealtime
– rigid routines and rules around food and exercise
– frequent meal skipping
– making yourself ‘earn’ food
– preoccupation with body image
– obsessive about nutritional content of food
– the thought of gaining weight terrifies you
A good relationship with food is like any other relationship — it takes time, respect, practice, and a lot of patience.
Eating is more than a simple transaction to fuel our bodies. What and why we eat is rooted in many facets: culture, allergies, religion, family upbringing, media, tradition, socialization, financial bounds and self-beliefs.
Our nutrition involves more than what we put into our body; it includes how we FEEL about what we put into our body. It includes our relationship with food.
So, how can we improve our relationship food?
– Challenge your thoughts: write down the first 10 thoughts you have about food. Ask yourself if they are rooted in truth and if they are hurtful or helpful. If they aren’t true, or are harmful, what can these be replaced with?
– Mindful eating: pay attention to mealtime, without judgement. Enjoy the experience, moment-by-moment. Try to eat more slowly, chew thoroughly, remove distractions, and stop eating when you’re full.
– Balance and flexibility. Eat the rainbow and a variety of food groups! If for some reason preferred food choices aren’t available, eat what is available- without beating yourself up about it.
– REFLECT on your values. What does it mean to be healthy? What is food’s role in this? Reflect on your beliefs around these questions. Where do these beliefs come from? Again, question whether they are true and helpful.
– Have fun! Try cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. The best way to nurture a relationship? Quality time!
– Think outside the box! Don’t label foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Avoid labelling food so that you avoid the guilt that comes with it.
– Know your body. Eat foods that agree with your body. If something doesn’t make you feel good, don’t eat it. This may lead to negatives thoughts and feelings about food in general.
– Stop comparing yourself to others. You are YOU. Our bodies are not the same. Listen to YOURS rather than looking at others. Your journey is unique, and so it should be.
– Stop looking at the numbers: listen to how you FEEL!
– Growth mindset: allow yourself permission to enjoy the food on your plate.
– Show gratitude: for the food on your plate and the body you get to nourish. Your body shows up for you every. single. day. Let’s return the love!
– Use positive affirmations! These affirmations by NUTRITIONTOFIT are great!
– Reach out! If you are struggling to control obsessive thoughts about food, seek the help of a professional!
– Work on your relationship with your BODY. One of the reasons why we restrict eating is because we don’t have favourable thoughts about our body and so we try to use food to ‘change’ this.
DROP INTO YOUR BODY!
Kirsten Hunneyball, Eating Disorder Recovery Coach on Connectable Life, describes a technique that has been useful for her in her journey.
“We need to drop into the body to be free from its bondage.
I used to think that my body was in the way of experiencing my most serene and spiritual self.
It felt like a limitation, something I needed to get away from.
I’m recognizing the ability to accept, drop into and be with the body is a fundamental ingredient to lasting healing from disordered eating.
Now, this may sound scary… I mean after all, if you are here it probably means you don’t have the best relationship with your body and the idea of being with it, in all its essence and presence, probably feels terrifying!
But when you allow yourself to ease into this space, SO much can transform from within you.
So how do you be with the body? How do you sit in its tangible matter, without screaming inside or falling apart?
Well, the journey is different to everyone, but some things that have helped me along the way:
- My voice is the most important part of accepting my body. It is only when I can authentically express my feelings, thoughts and fears to those closest to me (e.g., my partner or family), that my body seems like a more manageable place to be in. Why? Because if I accept my truth (my thoughts, feelings etc.) and consider them valid and then share them with another human being, I am allowing my internal self to be exactly who she is, without fear or judgement. And by default, my psyche starts to feel more accepting of my physical self. I must practice honest self-expression to feel safer in my own skin.
- When I engage my physical senses through mindful movement, breathwork, dance, music, looking at candlelight or something beautiful, or even engaging my sense of scent, something makes me feel calmer. This is probably because we tend to store anxiety in physical areas of our body and often are disconnected from the present moment because of the fear of something that might happen, or the fear of some past trauma. When I can make myself as physically here as possible through my senses, my fear of the past and future dissolves.
- Sometimes I drop everything to be still. As impossible as this may seem, it’s perfectly doable. Even if to “drop everything” simply means to drop the way I’m thinking about something.
- I have found supplements that support cortisol regulation (i.e. stress) can help me feel more capable of handling my stressors and my body/food. Some of these include Ashwagandha, Magnesium Citrate, Zinc, L-Theanine and a good probiotic (like Rawbiotics).
- I make intentional time to be with my body even if it’s uncomfortable. I ask myself what it is I am trying to feel more in control of? What is the underlying fear? And what solution can I move toward in this space?
Making stillness and time to be WITH the body is just like any relationship …
It takes intention, time and patience.
You may not love, or even like the process, but spending quality time with the body is a fundamental element in developing a better relationship with it.
See what comes up. Your body is not the enemy. It’s time to start moving into it with grace.”
Start the journey!
Kirsten has created some incredible content and courses to help people with disordered eating and thought patterns.
Book with Kirsten: https://www.connectablelife.com/profile/kirsten-hunneyball
Start by taking our questionnaire to gauge where you’re at: https://www.connectablelife.com/employeewellness/how-is-my-relationship-with-food
‘Your body hears everything your mind says.’ Naomi Judd
‘Being sexy is all about attitude, not body type. It’s a state of mind.’ Amisha Patel