Food is about as basic as you can get. Everyone needs food to survive. Yet food and eating is also a way to soothe, to comfort, to support and nourish. It is no wonder then that basic way of soothing gets overused and distorted in unhealthy ways. Consider what happens when there is a trauma, especially in childhood but it could be at any time. Trauma is about a shocking or disturbing event that OVERWHELMS us with feelings that we don’t know how to cope with. That trauma could be physical,emotional or sexual abuse but it could also just be witnessing something happening to someone we love, or losing a cherished person or relationship. The important issue here is that trauma causes us to feel overwhelmed, not know how to cope and feel pain at the disturbances within us. At that time it is natural to go to the easiest or most available form of comfort -to many that is FOOD!… Then food can start out as a comfort but then gets overused in destructive ways, with compulsive overeating (stuffing the feelings down).. binging and purging (stuffing it and then purging feelings out), or anorexia ( starving as a means to gain control in a world that seems out of control ).. Making some of these connections is often the first step in recovery to find more positive and healthy ways to cope.
Marlena Kushner, MFT
Women’s Therapy Services