Is food your friend or your foe? – an article by Andy Spencer
Our relationship with food
Food can be one of life’s pleasures. Most of us have our favourite foods. It has also been part of our culture for hundreds of years. We share food with others, we gift our love ones by preparing food for them. Food was there during some of our happiest memories. It can be a true friend keeping us company all our lives.
For some though it is a source of emotional pain and lack of control that is hidden from others due to their shame. It is like food rules them and their lives and they are not strong enough to resist its lure and promises. It can be the thief of your dreams. It then becomes an enemy that harms us and can be one of our worst memories. We become ill, hate ourselves for it and our self-esteem and confidence is shattered when it was hanging by a thread anyway.
So where does all this come from?
All children grow up with some of their needs unmet. There are no perfect parents. Just because mum and dad made some mistakes along the way it doesn’t mean they didn’t love us. They were doing their best.
For a number of reasons some children are hurt and neglected so much and have to carry terrible feelings that can be overwhelming and they can’t bear. These children feel very alone, hate and blame themselves and it seems there is no-one to turn to even though in reality there might be. Children HAVE to find a way to manage these feelings to survive and they can be very creative in finding ways to do it.
One way is to use food. Food can make us feel good and numb those horrible feelings that can’t be borne. We can eat lots of food to fill us up with something that feels nice or stop eating food to test our resolve and tenacity to give us some attention from others and some sense or self-esteem. We can also do both. In this way we can manage these horrible feelings. This usually starts at a young age and is set in pre-adolescence.
…..and when we grow up….
Old habits die hard especially ones we developed in childhood. Our unhelpful food habits set up in childhood stay with us and can stop us from leading happy and fulfilling lives.
The trouble is while we are using food to make us feel better we don’t realise we have lost sight of what food is really meant to do for us. We need a nutritious diet comprising the right components to be healthy both physically and mentally. We can become seriously malnourished or have to process and digest far more food than we need. It adversely effects our metabolism, ability to absorb food, our thinking and ability too function normally in the world. It can also affect the size and shape of our bodies and we can feel disgust and shame towards our bodies.
Who can help?
The good news is that there is a way out. There are trained therapists who are experts in helping you gradually find other ways (other than food) to support you emotionally during difficult times that don’t make you ill, feel ashamed and stop you being happy. They will also teach you about what you need to eat to be healthy. They will be there with you and help you while you sweep away the old ways and bring in the new. You will not be alone like you felt as a child and you will be supported.
So please be reassured – if food is your enemy right now and it is controlling your life and making you miserable YOU DON’T have to live this way. There are people who will understand and help. I know it takes courage but all you have to do is reach out and they will take your hand and show you how things really can get better. They won’t make you do anything. They will help you find your own way through it.
At The Eaves we have trained professionals with immediate availability to help with a wide range of eating disorders, please call on 01483 917000 for more advice.
If you would like to meet me personally to discuss a course of therapy to help you please contact me directly on 07760351733 – Andy Spencer