Reading an article about vets finding a way out of post-war depression, anxiety, and PTSD, I got to thinking about disregulated eaters’ fanatic absorption in food and weight obsessions and how they would benefit from finding a greater purpose in order to be done with that obsession. You don’t want your tombstone to read, “Spent a lifetime struggling to eat ‘normally’ and lose weight,” do you?
Believe me, I understand the pain of compulsive eating and being or feeling overweight. But it cannot remain the be all and end all of life as some of you have made it. Although I encourage you to read my books and blogs and join my Food and Feelings message board, I’d rather see you out there doing things you’re passionate about which gives you a sense of satisfaction, belonging, and a focus greater than yourselves.
There’s something highly unhealthy and excessively self-absorbing about spending much of your life thinking and talking about your food and weight “problems.” I know; I did it for decades. Fact is, no one but other disregulated eaters are all that interested in the subject—what you ate or didn’t eat or how much weight you lost. C’mon. Isn’t it time to change your tune? In the article I read, vets too felt lost and purposeless and were self-absorbed with the horrors they’d witnessed—until they became engaged in community service projects. I’m not comparing your lives to theirs, but many of you as well are over-focused on eating and weight matters to the exclusion of the rest of life.
Throwing yourself into a project or enterprise wholeheartedly in which you break a sweat and join with other like-minded folk totally changes your focus. When you’re involved in something larger than yourself (no pun intended), you’re not thinking about your crummy childhood or what you ate for breakfast or how you’re going to fit into that new suit for a job interview. Instead, you’re present, engaged in whatever task is at hand, and connected to others who may be worse off than you are.
Obsessing about eating problems is part of the problem. I’m not telling you to go out and sign up for the Peace Corp tomorrow. I am saying that instead of thinking about the gazillion and one things wrong with you and how flawed you are, it’s time to get involved in something in which you can make a unique (however small) contribution. Studies show us time again that giving to and doing things for others less fortunate than we are boosts our spirits and heals our hearts. Eating disorders are lonely endeavors and there are times to just let them be and focus on who you are other than a troubled eater.