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Binge-Eating, Body Image and Guilt & Shame…

Thursday, 07 July 2016 00:00  by Charity B.


Is the problem more than food-deep?

“In order to stop binge-eating, it’s not enough to stop dieting—we actually need to stop thinking like dieters, and end the shame, guilt, and self-loathing we feel around our food choices,” Isabel Duke, an expert in treating disordered eating patterns, implores.

But you say, “I can’t stop feeling guilty when I eat foods I used to think were “bad.” In fact, now I feel guilty about feeling guilty because I know it’s spurring on my bingeing! How do I stop this crazy cycle?!”

Here’s the thing—it’s very difficult (if not impossible) to "stop feeling guilty" without addressing the underling reasons that those feelings exist, which means that the only way to get out of the shame cycle is to start looking openly and honestly into the reasons you're judging your food to begin with, and start dealing with those issues head-on.

You can literally ask yourself: "Where is this guilt coming from? What am I afraid of?" and see what comes up. For 99% of you, the answer will be body-image related, and the "Answer," therefore, will be actively and consistently working towards developing positive body-image, or challenging your own weight-related biases.

In a comprehensive mental health facility like Brookhaven Retreat, woman can find resolution not only to the mental and emotional turmoil they are in, but resolution to disordered eating patterns as well, because we seek to find the root of the issues. Disordered eating is often a symptom, a coping mechanism, to a deeper issue. Often there is a self-worth and identity issues, or maybe unresolved trauma and unregulated emotions that need to be dealt with.

Additionally, you may also need to work on challenging a society that moralizes health choices, and/or start addressing any health-related anxieties that exist for you around food (both of which can also contribute to the "guilt-cycle").

That being said, I can almost guarantee that body-image work will be a major part of the equation.

Occasionally clients tell me things like: “but I like my body, I’m just obsessed with food!” and upon further investigation, we almost always discover that they’re holding onto some other fear or negative belief about weight—like a fear of gaining weight, or a judgment of others on the basis of size—that's keeping them locked in diet-thinking even when they feel satisfied with their own bodies at this particular moment.

Some others mistakenly think that working on body image is airy-fairy-Hallmark-card fluff, or think to themselves, "Whatever, I'll like my body once I'm thin."

…and those are almost always the same people who continue to struggle with food for years on end despite having “tried everything.”

In conclusion, the black hole of guilt and shame you're experiencing (and binge-eating that goes with it), won't go away just by trying to suppress've got to do the underlying work to address why those feelings are coming up...

Try keeping an emotional eating and body image journal, or try joining a binge-eating support group. If there are deep-rooted underlying emotional issues, consider seeing a professional to work through these issues.

Living with guilt and shame every time you eat is no way to live. Food should be a free, fun and enjoyable experience!

Last modified on Thursday, 07 July 2016 04:43

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