There is a strong connection between trauma and eating habits. For people who have experienced trauma, food can be a way to cope with the experience. It can be a way to numb the pain or to fill the emptiness that is felt. Food can also be a way of comfort, providing a sense of safety and security. Developing healthy eating habits can be challenging for people who have experienced trauma. Often, the focus is more on ‘surviving’ than ‘thriving.’ Here are some ways you can address the eating habit impacts of trauma:

Common Causes of Trauma

Trauma can take many forms, including physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, neglect, witnessing violence, and natural disasters. It can also occur due to cultural or societal factors, such as racism, homophobia, or transphobia. Trauma often leads to feelings of shame, powerlessness, and self-loathing. Moreover, research has shown that people with eating disorders are more likely to have experienced some form of trauma than those without eating disorders. If you or someone you know is struggling with trauma, it is important to seek professional help. This will allow you to process the experience healthily and develop coping mechanisms that don’t involve food, allowing you to maintain healthy eating habits.

Eating Disorders

There is no one specific cause that could make a person develop eating disorders. However, trauma is one of the factors that can increase one’s risk. Here are common eating disorders, their symptoms, and what you can do to address them:

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by being underweight, being afraid of gaining more weight, and having a deep desire to be thin. Patients with this disorder restrict their daily food intake, obsess over their body weight and shape, and frequently engage in excessive exercise. It can have many serious health consequences, including malnutrition, electrolyte imbalances, heart problems, and an increased risk for osteoporosis.

Focus on skinny woman measuring her waist with measuring tape

Recovery from Anorexia Nervosa requires a multi-faceted approach that includes medical intervention, psychological support, and nutritional counseling. With treatment, people with anorexia nervosa can regain a healthy weight, improve their body image, and develop healthier eating habits. Suppose you or someone you know is struggling with anorexia nervosa. In that case, it’s essential to seek professional help and find a program that can address all aspects of the disorder and other impacts it may have on the individual’s life.

Binge-Eating Disorder

Binge-eating disorder (BED) involves recurring episodes of binge eating followed by a feeling of shame, guilt, or both. People with BED often eat secretly and feel they cannot control their eating. They eat in secret because they are embarrassed about how much they are eating and fear that others will judge them. Binge eating episodes typically involve consuming higher than normal quantities of food in a short time and often include foods high in calories, fat, and sugar. People with BED may also eat more quickly than usual during a binge until they are uncomfortably full. Despite the shame and guilt people with BED feel after a binge, they often cannot stop themselves from bingeing again. Likewise, binge eating is identified as a disorder if you consecutively binge eat at least once weekly over three months.

If you think you or someone you know may have BED, it is important to seek professional help. Recovery from BED is possible with treatment. Treatment typically includes a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and/or medication. You may also benefit from working with a registered dietitian to develop healthier eating habits and a better relationship with food. If you are struggling with BED, know that you are not alone and help is available.

Bulimia Nervosa

Individuals with bulimia nervosa engage in cycles of bingeing and purging, typically involving consuming large quantities of food followed by vomiting or using laxatives. Bulimia nervosa can cause serious physical health problems, including dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and digestive issues. In addition, the purging behaviors associated with bulimia nervosa can lead to teeth erosion from vomiting and chronic constipation from laxative abuse. Mental health problems are also common in individuals with bulimia nervosa and may include depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphic disorder.

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can have potentially life-threatening consequences. If you’re experiencing any signs and symptoms of bulimia, it’s important to seek professional help. You can learn to better manage your condition and live a healthy, productive life with proper treatment. That’s why you should consider getting treatment through a custom bulimia recovery program that can address your specific needs and provide long-term care and support. This will help you develop the skills and knowledge necessary to cope with your disorder healthily and prevent relapses.

By reaching out for help, you’re taking the first step towards recovery. Eating disorders are complex conditions that require professional and comprehensive treatment. Following your treatment program and your doctor’s advice, you can overcome your eating disorder and live a healthy and fulfilling life.