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What If You Didn’t Have Eating Problems?

One of the saddest things that having an eating problem can do is to con you into believing that it’s the main thing that’s wrong with you. The fact is that even if you had a peachy relationship with food, you’d still have areas of your life that need improvement. Ironically, if you were to put more effort into these areas of self-growth and skill learning, I guarantee that your eating difficulties would decrease.

If you awakened tomorrow with a wonderful relationship with food and your body, would that be the end of working on becoming a more enlightened person? This is a crucial question to answer. Many of you are so busy focusing on food—hell-bent and desperate to overcome your eating problems--that you’re not putting sufficient energy into advancing in the human being department. In this sense, eating problems can be all consuming. For example, if you work on becoming a less anxious person, I guarantee you’ll reduce unwanted eating. Or if you pursue a goal of having more fun in life. Or if you dedicate the next year to making friends, improving your relationship with your partner, seeking creative outlets, taking better care of yourself—any of these things—you will automatically have an easier time with food.

Why do disregulated eaters so often ignore the non-eating work they have to do on themselves and, instead, focus on eating “right” or—worse—losing weight? Because it’s easier to focus on these goals than to make broader and deeper changes in personality or circumstance, easier to get to a number on the scale or eat only a certain number of calories a day. When you’ve reached those goals you can trumpet success even though any number of other things remain wrong in your life: you are scared to take risks or depend on people, fear being alone and put up with a partner who doesn’t meet your needs, are emotionally dead, or feel like a “good” person only when doing for others.

These are personality characteristics that take time and considerable effort to change. You don’t become a happier person just because you eat “normally” if you still have a multitude of leftover issues from childhood that you haven’t resolved and which continue to cause dysfunction and misery in your life. What a diversion obsessing about food and weight can be when you have so much else in your life that needs attention.

If you had no problems with food, what would you change about yourself or your life? Believe me, most of you have something. I’m not saying to work on becoming perfect. But instead of trying to fix your food problem, try fixing something else for a change.