Food or Eating Issues
Of all the compulsive behaviours, some people believe the most difficult to overcome is an unhealthy relationship with food because unlike other problematic behaviours, you can’t simply cut food out of your life – we all need to eat. Everyday. However, eating food is often used for more than sustenance – it can become an unhealthy coping mechanism for loneliness, boredom, anxiety, depression, and more.
Symptoms & signs that you have a problematic relationship with food
Most people will stuff themselves from time to time, say at holidays or family gatherings when our favourite foods are in abundance. Or we have “cheat” days or treat foods. However, these should be occasional occurrences. Do you find yourself experiencing the following?
- Weight gain – weight creeping up or sudden gains
- Weight fluctuations – lose the weight only to gain it back again
- Being at a high unhealthy weight
- Always on a diet to lose weight
- Trying fad diets
- Restricting certain foods – but binging on them when you cheat
- Overeating to the point of gastrointestinal discomfort
- Hiding “bad” foods (chips, cookies, etc.)
- Eating in private so people don’t see how much you consume
- A tendency to reach for food after a bad day, argument, or when you’re feeling down
- A tendency to reach for food when you’re feeling scared, bored, lonely, or angry
- Thinking about, and planning for, the next time you get to eat
When is it time to get help?
Small weight fluctuations are normal and achieving a “perfect” size or weight may not be attainable for everyone but maintaining a healthy weight range is important for our physical health and mental health. Are you struggling to lose weight or control your food intake? Are you preoccupied with food – what you can or can’t eat? Do you find it impossible to stick to a healthy diet or are you stuck in a cycle of depriving yourself then falling off the wagon to go on to binge on unhealthy foods? If you are feeling repulsed by how you look, or how much you eat, this is likely affecting your self-esteem and possibly relationships. If your weight or eating issues are beginning to interfere with your daily activities (for example, you don’t want to go out in case you run into people who haven’t seen you this size, or you aren’t interested in physical intimacy because you’re embarrassed about your body) then it’s time to seek help! It’s important to note that people don’t have to be overweight to have an unhealthy relationship with food.
Food and eating issues treatment methods
Treating an unhealthy relationship with food can look different for different people. If this is a coping mechanism for a past trauma, then treating the trauma is the place to start. If it’s a symptom of depression or anxiety, then those need to be looked at as well. Your therapist will talk with you about your individual circumstances. Generally speaking, there are several therapies that have been effective in helping clients to overcome their problematic behaviours with food:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Emotionally focused therapy is based on observations and experience. It looks at emotions and emotional intelligence, which helps support stronger and more secure relationships by helping better understand how our actions impact others, and how our emotions drive our interaction.
- Hypnosis and hypnotherapy can allow clients to travel deeper into the unconscious or subconscious to look at and work with issues and ideas perhaps inaccessible otherwise. It’s like guided daydreaming: a form of relaxed concentration.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight?
We can work with you to get to the root of what’s causing you to overeat or perceive food in an unhealthy way. You can learn to consume food healthily rather than having food consume you. It may not be easy, but it is achievable and we can support you on this journey.
We have therapists who have experience in this area and can provide counselling in-person, through online video counselling or even by telephone – whatever you prefer! Contact us today.