I have been meeting a lot of interesting people this week, some who are in similar fields and others who have passions of their own but our paths have crossed. When I tell them what I do one of the first things I often hear about is how people who have eating disorders turn to food or restricting as a way to control things. I think in general this is one of the most common beliefs about why people have eating disorders. It is almost as though eating disorders have become synonymous with the need to control.
Truthfully I don’t believe this. I believe control has become a catch phrase that is used because it is well known, and more often because it seems to the thing that makes the most sense. When you ask someone about their need to control they say controlling food helps them feel safe in a world that can at times, if not frequently, overwhelm them. Man does that ever make sense. In our environment there aren’t a lot of things we have control over, but what we choose to eat or not eat is completely up to us. The challenge comes when we realize that controlling our food doesn’t actually make work less stressful, relationships less triggering, or life in general more pleasant. Instead what controlling our food does is give us a focus so that we don’t have to focus on feeling those overwhelming or scary feelings. It isn’t about control, it’s about feelings. Not eating your dinner or bingeing on a bag of chips doesn’t change anything, it just gives us a specific focal point to devote our attention to.
So how does this apply to you? I am not here saying that control doesn’t play a role in all of this. All I am saying is that telling yourself that the whole picture is that your eating disorder gives you control is like saying the only reason someone catches the common cold is because they don’t wash their hands well enough
It is important in recovery to have a really honest conversation with yourself. If you want to start by focusing on control then I would encourage you to ask yourself what you feel you really want control over that you don’t currently have? If you are ready to go a step further then take some time and right down how your eating disorder serves you. It works for you in some capacity otherwise you wouldn’t still turn to it, so how and in what way does your eating disorder work for you? What is it protecting you from? What do you feel you really need in order to feel safe, happy and secure in your life? What would you need in order to put your eating disorder out of business?
Let me know in the comment section below. Do you agree or do you feel eating disorders are all about control?
If you have any questions about this, reach out. I am always here to support you.