Why Finding The Root of Your Eating Disorder is Essential to Recovery

Food, body, drug, alcohol or work addictions? Are they completely separate? Or do they have something in common? Is it just a matter of turning to something, whether it’s food and body obsessions, exercise addiction, or drugs and alcohol to cope with past trauma? And what is the root of it all?

Emotional, mental or physical trauma can pave a road for the development of dysfunction, insecurity, and emotional instability. Trauma can create eating disorders in some, or perhaps violence, substance abuse and workaholism in others.

For so long, I did not think that the event of sexual assault that happened to me at 13, was the root trigger of all my dysfunctional behaviors over the following span of 8 years. Until I finally connected the dots, I continued to run, distract and suppress myself and my emotions that were desperately needing to be dealt with.

Instead of being dealt with, the negative effects of the assault manifested into other mental and physical distress’s that I couldn’t explain.

After having recovered and finally reclaiming my life, joy and health back, I have been called to help guide other people to find their potential triggers. Whether those triggers are from past trauma, the pressure to live up to the harsh demands of our modern culture or something else. Then they can finally recover from any addiction.

What’s your addiction?

Addicted to external validation? Has your self-love been determined by something external, such as fitting into a pair of skinny jeans or the number of compliments you receive from friends, family, or strangers? Or, agonizing over whether you hit a caloric deficit, or a certain amount of workouts that week? Maybe you bought into that crap out there that you’re not worthy until you meet these specific standards?

Basing our self worth on external validation is a set up for low self esteem and the suppression of expressing our true authentic selves, in order to please others. We lose ourselves in that process. We become addicted to external forms of acceptance.

Maybe it’s time to learn to accept yourself. Take a break from the daily scale weigh-ins, body pinching, mirror flexing, excessive workouts, selfie taking, and checking of social media likes, hearts, and compliments.

The role of control

How can control issues be linked back to addictions? Control is a huge contributing factor to addictions. Whether it be in the form of control around food and body image or control around emotional suppression.

When our underlying root triggers, trauma, and learned behaviors are dealt with, instead of suppressed and ignored, we can finally learn to let go of the addictions.

Whether we think these past traumas affect us today or not, usually the traumatic events are still the main trigger that pushed us into harmful addictions. The addiction becomes a coping mechanisms for our lack of control over our emotions.

Subconsciously, we make sure to never feel that out of control and hurt again in the future. And yet, this is toxic control rather than having healthy control over our lives.

My experience

Not only did I struggle with food and body addiction, but drug and alcohol addiction as well. I used stimulant drugs, appetite suppressants, fat burners and more to not only distract my hunger and make dieting easier.

But digging deeper has shown me that I also used these addictions to numb the underlying feelings of unworthiness, low self-esteem, failure, and rejection. I didn’t feeling capable of living up to what others expected of me. This began the dance of pleasing, performing, perfecting, and proving.

I gave in to that toxic control, numbing my emotions by restricting my food, controlling my weight, and with drugs and alcohol. Recovery showed me it was all a form of distraction from the real underlying issues, that when dealt with properly, set me free from it all.

But…it may not be your experience

Another note worth mentioning is you could be on the other side of the spectrum and simply be that person who experienced one or multiple reasons (i.e., went on a restrictive diet, or cleanse, trauma, bullied or told you were fat, abusive relationships, abandonment, etc.).

The caloric deficit you induced as a reaction to that experience, both starving your body and brain could have contributed to a full blown restrictive eating disorder.

The eating disorder was just the tool you chose or was the coping mechanism to deal with the pain or trauma or your attempt to control the situation.

The physical side effects from dieting can indefinitely lead to mental changes. In these cases, your current eating behaviors exist because something interrupted them, not because normal eating habits were not present for you.

Whatever the root of your eating disorder or addiction is, you just have to stick with recovery. Just keep going.

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