The root of all abnormal eating lies in feeling unloved and unworthy. These feelings create anxiety, and most eating disorders are actually anxiety disorders. We feel anxiety and fear when we do not feel trust in ourselves and others.
Overeating and binging (eating large amounts of food, often what one considers unhealthy or “bad” foods), are ways to numb anxiety and other uncomfortable feelings. They also numb us to our critical thoughts about feelings of unworthiness. The food feels nurturing and is actually a substitute for the longed for love we are unable to access.
With Anorexia, there is a strong inner critic that expects perfection and wants to abstain from eating in order to gain a sense of control. The Critic announces “you need to restrict your eating so you can gain control over your uncomfortable, negative emotions, and your unmotivated, lazy attitude.” It further states: “if you are unable to control your undisciplined thoughts, feelings or environment, at least your weight is something over which you can have full control.”
With Bulimia, the associated thoughts and feelings are: “I want to feel nurtured and numb my uncomfortable emotions but I do not want to gain weight. I want to get rid of the parts of me that the food represents: the lazy, unworthy, undisciplined, unloved parts, so I will purge them out of me.”
In working with eating disorders, I use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help clients begin to see how their dysfunctional thoughts create unhealthy eating behaviors. I also use EMDR, hypnotherapy, and Energy Psychotherapy to help clients tolerate and minimize their uncomfortable and anxious thoughts and feelings. I also help my clients develop self-compassion and self-acceptance so that they do not need to use food in an unhealthy way to get rid of what’s “eating them”.