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TOPIC: Tackling the messages about food (TRIGGERING)

Tackling the messages about food (TRIGGERING) 6 years 8 months ago #550

When I was in therapy, the shame I felt about my relationship with food and the fact that my life revolved around food, made talking about food a place that was too painful, too difficult to visit in much depth, so whilst I gained a greater understanding of what my ED was about, we didn't really do that much work on the food and eating issues, and it didn't matter at the time, as I was managing to eat pretty well, and we were tackling a lot of the roots of my self-worth issues which were equally as important, in fact I think they were essential to enable me to get to the point I'm at now where I am finally ready to tackle my direct relationship with food.

And so I have done some work, writing and reflecting, and trying to map out my relationship with food and how it affects the way I eat now (which at the moment, is really not good at all), but now I don't know what to do with the things I've identified, how to address them, so I'm wondering whether Joanna or anyone else might be able to offer any words of wisdom here.

"The now"
I am aware that right from being a young child I have only ever been directed to either binge or starve, by my mother - I have never known what it is to eat a normal amount, or to regulate my own eating, which makes it hard to know what it feels like to be on the right track, as I have nothing to recall, to know what that is like at all.

I have also become aware recently, that there is something about my constantly grazing on jumk, that seemes to be about being prepared and on guard at all times for negative, painful things that might happen - if I keep myself permanently numbed, then they will hurt less and I will tolerate them better. (which makes sense as to why my eating is so bad at the moment, as in my current personal situation, as I feel like I am coping too well, and any minute something is going to happen and everything is going to come crashing down around me.)

Background - overeating
When I look at my background, and the way my mother was with me and food, I can identify reasons why it was important for me to eat the excessive amounts of food and junk that she used to give me, and they are:
  • * eating to feel worthy and therefore loveable
  • * eating to not be ungrateful and bad which are why I'm unloveable
  • * a kind of "get it whilst you can" based upon, not being allowed to regulate my own eating, not being allowed to save anything until later because it will get offered to others or thrown away, and knowing the next imposed diet was probably just around the corner
  • * using junk food for celebrating, for comfort, and for treats or rewards because it was affordable and easily available

Background - dieting/starving
Through the "starvation diets" (very low cal diets) that my mother used to impose, I gained the beliefs that:
  • * needing to diet means I am a disappointment and embarrassment
  • * rapid weight loss equates with being loveable, whilst gradual weight loss is lazy, uncommitted and "bad"
  • * the discomfort associated with that level of hunger is good because it means I will lose weight, the more uncomfortable it is, the better I am at it, and there is more chance that I might be loveable

Background - circular nature
And so in these phases of overeating and extreme dieting, I lost enough weight that I was deemed to have lost enough to be loveable, which was rewarded with food which then reverted back to the excesses that I felt I had to eat to remain loveable...and round and round it went.

Help?
So I know all this stuff, I can see how the associations I have made with eating and with needing to lose some weight, have continued to drag me round in these circles, even though I know they aren't sensible/healthy/rational ways of thinking and behaving, and I have made some headway in tackling the diet associations, and I have been able to lose weight in more recent years by sticking to a much higher calorie limit and taking things very slowly, but I am struggling with the eating associations.

My self worth is pretty good now and so I don't really eat for those reasons anymore, but there is an element of "get it whilst you can" that goes on, because I know that I am overindulging in the wrong types of foods and that I need to bring things back under control again, and the thing that I originally mentioned about needing to be permanently numbed to deal with potentially painful stuff that could come up at any time.

I think, I am probably fathoming out what I need to do myself as I am typing this...but I will leave it on here anyway, just in case it is of some use to someone else some day.

So I guess what I am looking for really are tips on living with uncertainty or managing the stress and anxiety that comes from living with uncertainty?
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Re: Tackling the messages about food (TRIGGERING) 6 years 7 months ago #551

Nice work Shh :) <3 I think you are doing the all the right things and being a great therapist for yourself - looking at your beliefs that were formed early on and how they still play out in your life today and thinking about how you can learn to live without some of them. You have always demonstrated to all of us that you can make the changes that you want to. I know you will do it now too with baby steps.

I'm told if we embrace uncertainty instead of numbing with food behaviors that anxiety will decrease and there will be more peace. Sometimes, I have a hard time jumping off that cliff and trusting that it will be OK. Now is one of those times!

Hang in there and trust your inner therapist! Hugs.
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Re: Tackling the messages about food (TRIGGERING) 6 years 7 months ago #554

Aww Thank you Laura!

My overarching belief is one that says "everything will be okay in the end", and I've been through the worst case scenarios in my head, as well as the positive outcomes, and I'm as prepared as I can be to face whatever happens, but at the same time I'm not dwelling on it, I'm trying to live in the here and now... but I suppose subconsciously, the knowledge of how difficult and painful the worst case scenarios could be, bothers me, and other than believing that things will be okay in the end - and that, that belief contributes to making sure that they really will be, I feel a bit helpless.

It will be okay though xxxx
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Re: Tackling the messages about food (TRIGGERING) 6 years 7 months ago #557

Shh - you've hit on something that I've been experiencing and thinking about so I'm going to ask about it in the big rhetorical "we" assuming that many of us may feel this way sometimes.

After we think about the best and worst of what could happen and tell ourselves that it will be OK, why do we still feel helpless? What is that about? Is it not believing it will really be OK; not having confidence that we are making wise choices; struggling with the uncertainty? I'm really interested in learning more about the feeling of "helpless".
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Re: Tackling the messages about food (TRIGGERING) 6 years 7 months ago #558

Laura, I'm not sure if what you're talking about is what I've experienced, but what I use to think was "helpless" was really a feeling of "it's out of my control." But what I've come to realize that is that as my recovery became stronger and I started to let go of control, it's really a feeling of surrendering to my higher power (whatever that is at the given moment). Being able to surrender is actually a powerful thing to do when I've spend so much of my life trying to maintain control.

So now when I get that feeling of helplessness or out of controlness (yes, that's a word now), I try to relax into it knowing that the universe and my "wise mind" will take care of me. Rather than looking for those things I can't control, I keep an eye out for the things I can and need to take care of. It's really a game of trust!

Like I said, not sure it's the same thing you're talking about, but it's what came to mind.

Oh and Shh, great work thinking through things!!!
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"Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming." Dorian~Finding Nemo

You don't need to have it all figured out before moving forward!
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Re: Tackling the messages about food (TRIGGERING) 6 years 7 months ago #559

Laura, I think feeling helpless relates to feeling "powerless"

I suppose there is something about it that says - okay, so I am fairly strong, and whatever happens, I know I WILL be okay in the longer term, but that doesn't mean that I really want to experience the horrible, difficult, painful, upsetting etc stuff, unless there truly is no other option.

So I guess it's something akin to our self-preservation instincts, a form of anxiety even?
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