Most people think that dysregulated eating and body size is all about choosing the “wrong” foods and eating them in excess. But eating disorders therapists recognize that behaviors often speak louder than words and convey our innermost thoughts, even ones that are hidden away from ourselves. Here are some messages that dysregulated eaters may struggle to express to someone or to the world.
- I don’t need you or anyone. I have such supreme powers that I don’t even need nourishment. I’m special and can live on air. My will power is exceptional.
- Don’t look at me. I don’t want you to see or notice me except for what I want to be noticed for which is my ability to control my world.
- Help me, feed me, and take care of me because I can’t take care of myself.
- Look at me. I can do what you can’t. I’m better than you are.
- You can’t make me eat like a bird. I’ll eat as much as I want.
- I have huge needs and there’s not enough food in the world to satisfy me.
- I’ll never be deprived of foods I love again and the more I eat now, the more it makes up for all the foods I’ve denied myself in the past.
- What you want for me means nothing and you can’t control my life.
- I don’t want to be thin because that’s what everyone wants me to be. I want to be myself.
- Being thin means depriving myself of pleasure and comfort.
- I want to be thin because then I’ll be lovable and loved. Thin means I’m perfect.
- If I’m thin, I’ll be like you which I want more than anything.
- If I’m thin, I’ll be like you which is the last thing on earth I want to be.
- When I’m fat I stand out in my own way, not in the way you or others want me to.
- I am the opposite of you and an embarrassment to you which brings me pleasure.
- I want you to love me exactly as I am.
- If you can’t love me fat, I don’t want your love at all.
Notice that some of these comments conflict with each other. Notice too the pain in them, the longing, the fierce emotions. Sometimes we’re afraid to put such intensity into words, but as adults, we must learn to do this in order to become mentally healthy. Write down your feelings about starvation, binge-eating, thinness, and fatness. You need never show your list to anyone. You can throw it away or burn it. But know your truth. It will free you from your struggles with food and your body.