Eating disorders – I must control my eating

Control is an interesting theme around eating. Often people present with the two extremes of this dimension; feeling very much out of control with their eating, so therefore telling themselves that they must restrict and control what they eat.

Others come from a place of tight control of their eating, which comes from a need to be perfect in how they manage their eating, and themselves. Of course, wishing and needing to control weight is a huge factor.

With binge eating disorder people often feel out of control, eating large amounts of food in a hurried way, eating past the point of fullness. But are they attempting to control something else? Emotions and feelings are very much linked into eating presentations. If you are feeling stressed and anxious about something, and the feelings become overwhelming, we can attempt to cut off from them, and in a way control and manage the situation, by eating food. We feel out of control with the resulting binge eating behavior, but we have successfully navigated our attention away form the original situation that was making us stressed and anxious.

In bulimia nervosa, a fear of weight gain following a binge is countered with purging behavior; vomiting, laxative abuse or compulsive exercise. There is a need to control the situation, as the idea of gaining weight is unbearable. The stakes often feel heightened with bulimia, with bingeing and purging behavior at times often chaotic. This means the need to control and restrict food becomes even greater, which encourages greater nutritional imbalances and results in more extreme bingeing and purging episodes.

With anorexia nervosa, the need for control is extreme. Often the outside world is too traumatic, life is fragmented and frightening, so the need to find one area of life that you can control intensifies. There can be many factors attached to this need for control, with weight loss and the drive for thinness at the heart of anorexia. Sadly as the brain becomes more malnourished, the need for control becomes tighter and rigid; a slide into greater despair, increasingly poor health and a more intense drive to be thinner and for greater control.

So there are many types and forms of control that people present with at WeightMatters. Listening and understanding how the theme of control may be present is essential when we assess people at the practice. Some clients are afraid that we may attempt to control them and the way they eat. This can often be a projection of how others have controlled them in the past, so an understandable, and often unconscious, expectation that can present in eating disorder treatment.

The WeightMatters team are trained to respect why you may need to control your eating, and to understand that for many clients giving up this control is scary. Our aim is always to work with you to find new ways of coping and managing your world, your feelings and your eating. Working together, we will help you find a new balance of being in the world where you feel healthily in control.