Outgrow Your Food Issues
Friday, August 17, 2012 at 08:05AM
Juliet Carter

Today, more of us than ever are struggling with our eating and weight. A ‘diet mentality’, underpinned by an excessive concern with weight and body shape, is so common it’s considered normal.  

For some – young women in particular - what starts out as a ‘diet mentality’ progresses over time, with the development of specific behaviours, until a line is crossed from diet to disorder. 

Try the quiz below to assess where you are on the spectrum from ‘diet mentality’ to ‘disordered eating’. A brief description of a diet mentality and the main types of eating disorder – as well as a healthier, happier alternative – is provided at the end of this article.

This article looks at some of the benefits of addressing your eating issues, and how a course of psychotherapy and/or lessons in the Alexander Technique can help.

    

 

IT’S NOT ABOUT THE FOOD

The good news, and the bad news, is that a diet mentality and disordered eating is about more that just the food. This means that these behaviours are difficult to change – you’ve got to outgrow them.

Outgrowing your eating issues – also known as ‘recovery’ – takes work. You have to be willing not only to look at your eating habits, but to come into contact with the real hunger that lies beneath them, often emotional and spiritual.

The more serious your problem, the more challenging it is to make a start – not least because even if you desperately want to change your eating behaviours, you’re probably very attached to your habits around food and ambivalent about getting help. Equally, the more you have to gain.

WHY BOTHER WITH RECOVERY

Only you can decide if you’re ready to address your issues with food - but if you are willing, I can provide expert help through psychotherapy and / or the Alexander Technique.

Here are just a few of the benefits of making the investment in yourself:

1. Feel good about yourself – Most people struggle with food because of the influence that feelings about shape and weight have on their self-worth. People with food issues often have low self-esteem, to the point of feeling like bad  / unworthy person. Recovery from eating issues is a process of gaining a stronger sense of who you are and your value as a person.

2. Find a healthy / ‘slim enough’ weight and positive body image – Recovery from eating issues may initially involve having some kind of food plan and maintaining a healthy weight. Over time, as you develop your inner resources, you’ll no longer need to use food addictively – you can enjoy a ‘slim enough’ body, good self-esteem and a positive body-image.
3. Have better relationships – Relationships with family and friends often suffer greatly as a result of eating issues. Relationships can be challenging, and food can be used as an opt out from having to be with or deal with people, at the same time as masking feelings of loneliness or emptiness. Learning to look after yourself in relationships is a vital part of recovery.
4. Become more assertive and self-confident – Learning to be assertive is a critical skill because it’s the means by which we embrace and express who we really are without being destructive to others. Assertiveness involves a shift away from being either passive or aggressive and towards coming into your own power. Look out for my upcoming article on this topic.
  
5. Learn to relax and go with the flow – Anxiety coupled with a need for control is central in disordered eating. Eating disorder behaviours and being thin / losing weight give the illusion of control, and giving up these behaviours can feel like losing control. Recovery helps you to become more grounded in yourself, so you can finally relax and go with the flow of whatever comes up in life.
HOW THERAPY CAN HELP

Psychotherapy is designed to help you achieve all of the above benefits.

A successful therapy can help you overcome your issues with food.  To achieve this, it’s important to see your eating behaviours not as something that’s ‘wrong with you’, but as a strategy that has helped you cope and get by with a lack of some key life skills and resources.

In therapy, we work together to replace the function of eating behaviours with stronger internal resources, giving you healthy ways to, for example:
HOW THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE CAN HELP

Lessons in the Alexander Technique help to quieten down your whole system, calming the agitated thoughts and feelings that are often part and parcel of disordered eating. The Technique makes you more aware of your body and therefore of your feelings, and can help you be more comfortable in your own skin. The Technique is a skill that you can use throughout the day to be more mindful and make better choices, including around food.


Article originally appeared on Psychotherapy and Alexander Technique (http://www.julietcarter.com/).
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