When an individual embarks on the challenge of recovering from an eating disorder, learning to eat “healthy” or “normally” is not the full solution, contrary to what many believe. Much like those who enter recovery for the illness of addiction, the exact nature of the disease doesn’t lie within the substance itself. The same is true with an eating disorder—the issue has a much deeper root that is being expressed through food.
While societal influence does play an important role in people’s development and esteem, we strongly encourage anyone who is exploring their relationship with food to look beyond media and pop culture’s physical beauty ideals. When an individual is engaged in destructive eating behaviors to cope and gain some sense of control over their lives, they are on shaky ground if outside appearances continue to be the focus. Whether such control is real or imagined, for those struggling with an eating disorder, the idea of having control is often times the first step towards one developing a full-blown eating disorder. When left untreated, it can devastate the lives of the individual and those close to them.
The fact that unresolved trauma, grief, and loss is passed down from previous generations, uncovering and healing from it is one of the most important aspects of the therapeutic journey in recovery, especially with eating disorders. Such trauma may present itself in a myriad of ways throughout a familial intergenerational network. Trauma can result from immigration, premature deaths, war, poverty, suicides, violence, sexual abuse, systemic addiction and alcoholism, mental health challenges, divorce, and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately while these events are not unique, how they effect each family is. That’s why multigenerational healing is vital for sustained recovery with disordered eating. When one has alcoholism, there is no need to drink alcohol after detoxing safely. Whereas food sustains life, and the person in recovery needs to navigate their illness daily. Feeding the soul with recovery practices such as support groups, therapy, movement, and meditation, allows those with eating disorders to make peace with the plate—in a way no diet ever can or will.
Potential warning signs and symptoms of someone who is struggling with an eating disorder:
- Behavior and attitude changes that indicate control around food, weight, and physical appearance start becoming a primary concern
- Disappearing to the bathroom after meals
- Food rituals (i.e. cutting food into small pieces, chewing excessively, eating slowly, sipping water in between bites)
- Cutting out entire food groups
- Exercising despite exhaustion or injury
- Extreme mood swings, depression, or anxiety
- Isolation from friends or family
- Hiding food wrappers or containers in abnormal places
- Large quantities of food missing
- Bruising or cuts on knuckles
- GI issues
This illness is pervasive to the individual and their family network. Restoring a family to a position of healing and recovery is our expertise. If you or someone you know is currently struggling, please reach out and ask for help.