I remember, as a high school student, staring at the plate of food in front of me and wondering how I could get around it under the watchful eyes of my parent. Providing my body with the nutrition it needed was not in line with my current level of coping skills and I felt threatened and afraid. My relationship with food and exercise had gone from bad to worse as I genuinely tried to navigate the tumultuous world around me.
Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions where an individual’s relationship with food and their body is unhealthy, even harmful. This negative relationship may develop as a response to traumatic experiences in which the person felt, or continues to feel, little control over their life. Other times, eating disorders may be someone’s effort to cope with idealized and unrealistic beauty and body standards. Whatever the case, eating disorders are generally one’s attempt to manage and protect underlying pain. Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder (to name a few) affect more than 30 million people in the United States alone. Sadly, 70% of those dear souls will not seek help for one reason or another. This is unfortunate because though treatment often requires a multifaceted approach, eating disorders can be treated!
EMDR therapy is a profoundly helpful intervention to help individuals with eating disorders. While they may appear on the surface to be food-related problems, the struggle truly runs much deeper. EMDR is an excellent and supportive way to help process dysfunctional and traumatic events, making way for new, adaptive information and coping skills in its place. Ultimately, when trauma has been resolved, the compulsion to engage in eating disorder behavior lessons.
Today, a plate of food holds no emotional charge for me. It’s truly just food. But that didn’t come without doing the work. If you or a loved one struggles with food, weight, and/or body issues, I encourage you to consider the role a caring and supportive EMDR therapist can provide as you journey toward healing. Reaching out for help takes courage, I get it. And I know the work is worth it. You deserve a peaceful relationship with the most important person in your life- yourself 😉.
- Kristin Fickes