Eating disorders. Most people who don't know what an eating disorder is assume it's about not liking food. Not eating because you think you're fat or you don't want to get fat. Or that you really just don't like cake, or fries or burgers, or any other kind of food.
Trust me, I love food. All of it.
Sometimes even people WITH an eating disorder also think that "it's just about the food" because they don't realize or recognize what's actually causing it.
People who suffer from eating disorders have an unhealthy/disordered relationship with food. They obsess over food. They restrict, or binge, or purge, etc. Food consumes their life (no pun intended).
So what do I mean, "It's Not About The Food?"
The cause of this disordered eating pattern/relationship with food has to do with SOMETHING MORE. Something a lot deeper than simply not wanting to eat (or restricting, or binging, or purging or any other disordered behaviour). There's an underlying cause that has created this habit. It's much like an addiction.
Just like drug addicts use a substance to suppress feelings, people with eating disorders use a certain behaviour to hide from their emotions. To ignore the real issue.
Sometimes people don't even know what the "real problem" is. Sometimes it's so deep inside them that they can't recognize it. That was me.
What is this stemming from? Why can't I control my relationship with food?
When my eating disorder started, I too, thought it was just a problem with food. I was like okay once I eat better and more balanced this will all go away. Boy was I wrong.
When I increased my food intake and gained weight, yes I was happier and healthier. But years later I am still struggling mentally. WHY?
Because it's not about the food.
I never recognized the real problem. I never dug deeper to truly understand what was wrong. What I was hiding from. What I was afraid of. What caused this eating disorder and obsession with food.
Through some self-discovery and an amazing therapist, I realized that many factors contributed to my ED.
Throughout my childhood and early 20s, I was extremely lonely. I had friends, but I never felt like they were real. I never truly related to them. I just felt alone.
Loneliness might be one of the worst feelings in the world. It's like I have everything else. A good family, a job I'm passionate about, a roof over my head, more things than I can ask for, but why am I so lonely?
Nothing else matters if you are lonely. If you don't feel connected.
So, I tried to ignore the fact that I was lonely by focusing all my attention on food and exercise. It became my life. My eating disorder was my best friend. I didn't feel "lonely" because I felt in control.
I was like, if my diet, workouts and body are controlled, then my life will be better. Then I won't be lonely. Again, BOY WAS I WRONG.
Currently, I still struggle because I only realized this. I think I always knew I was lonely but was too afraid to admit it. I mean, who wants to say that they are lonely? It's kind of embarrassing. Right?
So, I have identified the deeper problem. I identified that I'm actually really sad on the inside. I have identified triggers. That's the first step.
Now, I need to work on heeling myself. On loving and accepting who and what I have. Dealing with my loneliness in another way. How? At this point, I really don't know.
Honestly, I don't know. I wish I had the answers. But I can say that even just recognizing the problem has helped. I feel a sense of relief. Like okay, the problem is now out. I know it. My therapist knows it. My mom knows it. It's okay. So let's deal with it.
If you are struggling with disordered eating habits, then I really encourage you to look deeper. What's really wrong? What is causing you to fixate on food and your weight? Whatever it is, it's going to be tough to admit. But I promise you it will lead to healing.
Are you someone who's struggled with an eating disorder? Did you ever realize what the real problem was? If you are comfortable sharing, please let me know in the comments.