Monday, March 29, 2010

Breaking the Cycle

We have all heard at some point 'along the way' that an eating disorder is not about food. Huh? it's really about emotional regulation, not knowing how to cope with intense feelings, and also pressures from both internal and external forces to be 'perfect', in control, etc.
It's a short jog from the point of emotional distress, to extreme dieting to be thin (isn't thin 'perfect'?), bingeing and purging in an effort to control weight, or any other numerous behaviors that ARE about eating, weight and FOOD.
Once your body and mind reach the point of starvation, both your behaviors and your thoughts become obsessively focused on food. The cycle begins...and it may present with slightly different characteristics, but for the most part it's centered around avoiding feelings by restricting or some other disordered behavior related to food, then penance and shame for that behavior, then the intense feelings again, and the cycle goes round and round. And my description is sadly simplistic.
Even though an eating disorder 'is not about food', it IS about food, because you cannot begin to truly focus on learning different coping tools until that eating disordered cycle (chaotic eating) is interrupted, or broken. So for a time, it has to be about normalizing food intake, weight, and stopping any dangerous behaviors that may be involved.
This 'cycle' feels and presents very much as an addictive, obsessive behavior, largely due to the affects of starvation on the body and brain. Breaking this cycle in order to move on to the process work required for full recovery must involve a knowledgable professional. I see no other way of stepping into that next phase...the cognitive processing.
Recovery is not quick, simple or easy. But it is completely possible. There are immense fears involved that may likely cause one to pull back and think that it's not worth the pain.
Freedom from an eating disorder is worth every bit of pain and hard work that is required. This is a life and death choice.
Breaking the cycle is the first step. Will you move on to experience life as it truly can be?
Don't ever give up!

Without apology....♥


  1. I was very interested by your information regarding the cycle between food and feelings. With professional help I am learning that. It sometimes hard to believe that ED is not JUST about food because food is such an obsession for me. But one thing you did not mention is using food as a weapon. I suppose you could say that this really does begin with feelings. But, for me at least, food is not not only used as a weapon against myself, but also against others.

    I continue to find your postings both inspirational and informational. Keep it up!

  2. Thank you Mara...I am interested in your thoughts about how food is a 'weapon'. I have my own ideas, but do you care to explain? I know that for me, I denied myself food as a form of punishment, and over time, I also thought that by continuing to starve myself I was punishing those who I was angry with. Pretty passive/aggressive, huh? But I only realized this when I began to recover. Do you consider your behaviors with food to be a punishment to yourself, sort of as self-harm? Just wondering. Thank you for your faithful 'eyes'...take care!!

  3. Thanks for responding. For me also denial of food (and fluid if I felt I was eating too much) was a way of punishing myself for being the worst person on earth, too fat, too ugly, too stupid and too worthless even to deserve basic nourishment. And yes, I used food (too little) and exercise (too much) as a weapon against others without even realizing it. Mostly against my husband when he became the "food police" (he thought he was helping but out of lack of understanding and a lot of frustration). I also punished myself as a weapon against my mother for not nurturing me or being there when I needed her; very passive aggressive and monumentally futile since my mother is dead. What recovery I have has made me realize that this is not a productive way to deal with feelings. What recovery I have yet to attain pressures me to repeat this behavior. But at least now I realize what I am doing even if I sometimes can't stop doing it.

    I hope this makes sense. Again, thanks so much.

  4. I truly understand what you describe. I can relate in this way as well. For me, it was very subconscious until I was in recovery and began to understand the undelying psychology of my behaviors. Oh yes, very passive/aggressive!! It's important that you can now see the futility of attempting to cope in this way. That's a huge step! Changing the way you cope is now another assignment, which takes time. This does make sense! Thank you for sharing! Wishing you joys and a wonderful weekend!!
    Jan ♥