Discover your love hate narrative with food

If most of life your life you have been obsessed with food, on and off the dieting rollercoaster, you will be very familiar with your love-hate food narrative.

Despite all your attempts to eat normally, it always seems to fail. You’ve been on every diet in the world, and eventually, you go back to your old ways. 

When you are not actually eating, you are thinking about the next meal. Trying not to give in to temptation, but eat clean and avoid sugary foods.

And, when you do indulge, it pushes you to concoct elaborate excuses to explain the missing food, that you probably previously declared you would not eat. 

Perhaps, your obsession with food is a distraction from deeper concerns? If so, it's important to try to identify what these are to prevent serious eating disorders.

Pre-occupied with food?

Most people believe that willpower is the problem and they lack willpower. Some make a case for 'food addiction'.

If you can't stop thinking about what you're going to eat or not eat then you may want to think about the following:

Sugar does indeed change the brain, but anything involving pleasure, anything that feels good like sex, exercise, spending time with friends etc. also changes our brain, increasing neural activation and the neurobiological responses in our brain light up.

The reality is that food is rewarding and it’s true certain foods like sugary or fatty foods activate this release of dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical that mediates pleasure and motivation in our brains and normal hunger.

But, feelings are not facts. And, the deeper we dig below the surface, the more we discover this behaviour serves a purpose, often accompanied by a harsh or overly critical and punishing self-talk.

Then, we can begin to pay attention to this self-talk and start to find new ways to respond or come to terms with these internal conflicts and change our relationship with food for good.

4 ways to recognise self-talk 

  1. Be inquisitive. You have probably been listening to the same dialogue for years and never even noticed how negative or punishing your internal conversations really are. A good measure is, if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, then you probably should not say it to yourself. Challenge some of the inner chatter.
  2. Identify your motives. Food can be used as a distraction from your problems and displaces helplessness. Instead of reacting or responding automatically using food as a way of escape to numb or comfort yourself., spend some time listening to yourself and notice when you feel helpless. 
  3. Make a commitment. If you have identified some of the roots. Try to identify some of the root issues of your dissatisfaction and commit to exploring these deeper. As human beings, we are capable of learning new ways of relating and responding to ourselves. When we figure out what's going on, we can make changes.
  4. Let’s talk about it. Whatever is going on with food, serves to express what cannot be expressed in words. Through talking, we bring things into conscious awareness and translates underlying fears, wishes, hopes and conflicts for working through. In fact, psychotherapy has shown to be as effective, or if not more effective than medication.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Marteka Swaby

Marteka has over 15 years experience improving emotional wellbeing. She has worked in many of the UK's largest NHS Mental Health Trusts. Psychodynamic Psychotherapist specialising in compulsive & emotional eating disorders she is currently working in private practice within obesity & bariatrics.… Read more

Written by Marteka Swaby

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