A toxic relationship to food does not just start overnight. It builds slowly over time as a person struggles to get beyond some emotional or physical trauma through addiction to food or a disordered relationship to food. Unhealthy relationships can be destructive in many ways. Find out what some signs are a toxic relationship to food has developed and what to do if it has gotten out of hand.
Food is essential for every person to survive. In fact, a person can live without food for about three weeks and only three days without water. Food is part of the human physiology, designed to use it as fuel to get through the day and conduct activities such as work, play and even rest. Toxic relationships begin with food when some type of trauma has occurred or perhaps an addiction transfer from one substance to another. Five ways exist to identify whether a toxic relationship has begun. Keep in mind others may be present but the following three may be signs it is time to seek help.
Food Becomes a Distraction
A person who has developed a toxic relationship to food may begin to think about it constantly, seek it out or obsess about what is or is not being eaten at any given time. It is possible to spend an entire meal beating up oneself about food choices.
Food Becomes a Game
Inflexibility around food focuses on either feast or famine. A person obsessed with food would rather starve than eat certain foods or would rather eat large quantities to feel overly full. It is also possible that a person with food obsession or a toxic relationship may fixate on what is in the food including calories or sugar content. Little details become important like where to find the most gluten-free, vegan, protein packed meals or some other focal point of food to the point where an individual spends more energy seeking certain foods than eating.
If a person consumes meals and immediately struggles with self doubt, anger, fear or shame, this can indicate a toxic relationship to food. A person should not beat up or punish oneself for eating certain foods.
Making Bad Food Choices
Making bad food choices to eat high carbs, fat and sugary foods can indicate disordered eating patterns. Worrying about food and eating poorly when around others (perhaps due to social pressure) can lead to negative feelings about the self and may trigger a relapse into addictive patterns of behavior.
Bingeing or Purging
Any person who binges on a lot of food then vomits or throws up any food after eating has a negative relationship to food. Most likely this is caused by an underlying eating disorder called anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Left undiagnosed, a person can enter into physical distress without proper nutrients along with an increased risk of mental health disorders.
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