“It’s not about the food, but it’s not not about the food”Geneen Roth
Therapy for issues around food and body image
Do you binge, purge and/or restrict repeatedly? Perhaps you find yourself mystified by your eating behaviour or maybe you know the ‘why’ of your behaviour but frustratingly, find that knowledge has no effect on your behaviour. What you most likely do know is the shame, the secrecy, the feeling of being out-of-control, and the repeated resolutions about ‘tomorrow’ when everything will be different. Except it isn’t. The cycle continues and you blame yourself – berating yourself for your lack of control or willpower.
On the surface it may appear that food is the problem but I believe the behaviour is symptomatic: it conceals, is a substitute for, or an expression of something else that requires our attention. The real issue remains unaddressed and perhaps avoided and this is where working with a therapist who has some real understanding of eating ‘disorders’ can be incredibly helpful.
There are various therapeutic approaches to working with bulimia, compulsive and binge eating but viewed broadly, I see them as falling into two groups when it comes to working with the eating itself (the behavioural aspect) and I provide a brief overview of these to give you an idea of what you might expect from therapy.
The first approach focuses more on the behaviour and on changing eating habits and the second approach is based on the rationale that the body intuitively knows what it wants and that if we are really listening and paying attention and follow the dictates of the body, external control becomes unnecessary. I think both approaches have validity but believe that if we are willing to trust ourselves, we will find that does not ultimately translate to eating cake (feel free to substitute your favourite food here) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Of course, as anyone who has tried to end binge and compulsive eating knows, it isn’t nearly as straightforward as that and I incorporate elements from both approaches in a twofold process: working to change the binge/compulsive eating patterns and behaviours and working to uncover the reason(s) for the eating behaviour in order to step out of the cycle of restricting and/or bingeing.