This week we’re diving into a scary chapter of Coping with Trauma Related Dissociation:
If you grew up in a home where food was used excessively as a reward or punishment, where food was scarce or nasty, or where mealtimes were stressful, it’s understandable why you’d have food issues. Yet good nutrition is essential to keeping your body healthy. As humans, breaking bread with our tribe is an essential part of our sense of belonging.
With parts, eating can be complicated.
Based on their experiences, your dissociative parts will have different opinions about food. You can run into trouble with binging/restricting, purging, and being triggered by particular foods. Your parts may not all know what healthy food is, how to prepare certain foods (and make them tasty!), or how to use all those gadgets in your kitchen. Parts may be too numb to feel hunger or too time-lost to remember if they’ve eaten or not. Emotionally, you might desire a certain body shape to make yourself more or less attractive, feel shame about your appearance, or use food to reward or punish yourself.
So, what do?
Reflection, awareness, and inner communication.
As a team, review your intake and determine where the problems are. Eating too much or too little? How’s your nutritional balance? Are parts eating in secret?
Apply judgement-free curiosity! What preferences do your parts have? Are there foods that are especially triggering that you might be able to prepare differently? Can you remove or replace items that your parts really, really dislike eating?
Do any parts enjoy cooking, and if so can they help broaden your options? You can learn to prep, season and cook pretty much anything, YouTube is your friend. There’s nothing quite like mastering a favorite dish, as a gift to yourself and your parts.
You can apply curiosity to your emotions, too. You’re likely to uncover a pile of thoughts, feelings and beliefs about food, so remember to be compassionate with yourself. Take these to your therapist and work on unpacking the source of your disordered eating habits.
As a last resort, consider meal supplements.
They’re tasty and will get the job done even when you can’t tolerate eating.
Homework this week involves assessing your healthy eating habits, tracking your eating for a week, and identifying your successes and challenges. You’ll then pick a challenge to work on, describe the problem, and set objectives (what you want to do differently). Documenting your inner conflicts or concerns about these goals will help get the team aligned, and help all of your parts feel supported.
From my inner cookie-hoarder: you got this. Your childhood may have left you with all these fucked up behaviors and beliefs, but with curiosity, compassion and effort, you can change it. Your body deserves to be treated well, and you’ll feel better when you’re getting grade-A fuel.