Eating issues and concerns can range from emotional eating to eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. Many eating disorders and food addiction behaviours manifest early in life as a teen or even a pre-teen but may also surface at any age. Recent psychological studies have revealed that 4-6 year old children are increasingly concerned with dieting and weight.
No matter when eating disorders orbody image concerns begin, they are to be taken seriously. The symptoms of an eating disorder, rather than being viewed as something to be ashamed about, are most helpfully viewed as an indication that something in one’s life is off kilter and must be explored and addressed. This may seem scary to some as the food and rituals become somewhat of a “friend” to the individual. Having the support of a trained professional is important. Studies show that individual treatment together with group treatment is the best option for healing.
It seems socially acceptable for people to comment on others’ bodies. For most, receiving positive feedback on weight loss seems to be favorable (from the outside). However, when an individual is struggling with an eating disorder, this exacerbates the already deadly thinking patterns (self defeating, black and white thinking, self deprecation) and behaviours (starvation, binging/purging and compulsive overeating).
Individuals who struggle with food and ritualistic food behaviour may experience some of the following:
- an inability to stop eating certain foods (or any foods) after taking a first bite
- compulsive eating/overeating or thoughts about eating
- chewing and spitting out food
- craving refined sugar and simple carbohydrates
- the using of food as an emotional comfort
- fantasizing about food
- over or under exercising
- preoccupation with weight
- the use of one or multiple lose-weight-fast schemes or fad diets
- purging (use of laxatives, vomiting, exercise, diuretic) after eating
- eating excessive amounts of food followed by guilt feelings
- grazing throughout the day
- a tendency to overdrink or overspend
- out of control feelings around sex and sexuality
Eating disorders are serious, complicated and typically cannot be successfully addressed without the support of trained professionals. If you are struggling with ritualistic behaviours around food and eating, consider a consultation appointment in order to discuss the best treatment options for you.
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Denise Renye, PsyD ~ Licensed Psychologist PSY28096