Emotions, Food and Relationships
Today we’re going to be talking about the root causes of disordered eating, eating disorders and binge eating.
It all begins with the bond between mother and child, and father’s too.
According to attachment theory there are three main types of attachment:
Bond Between Mother And Child Psychology:
Knowing your type of attachment is important because if you have a long history of binge eating, then most likely you have an attachment of being anxious or avoidant.
We will talk about these three attachment styles later on, but first I just want to share that I myself have struggled with binge eating when I wrestled in high school.
And I have a long history of working with anxious and avoiding attachment patterns. For years, about 4 years I think, I saw a therapist in order to develop secure attachment.
I come from a background where I developed a unique attachment style – a mixture of being anxious and avoidant.
And let me tell you – it kind of majorly sucks when you figure out you’re a ‘bad’ attachment style. Like I’m primarily avoidant. That’s not good. But it’s my default conditioning. It wasn’t my fault that I’m avoidant.
So I better make peace with it, and take responsibility for it.
So when I speak about attachment styles and struggles with overeating, I’m coming from a sincere place.
Sometimes people question me if I can help I’m suited to help with overeating because I am not obese and never have been overweight.
I could tell you a bunch of certifications I have, or all this experience, but the truth is …
I have gone through hell and back while changing my attachment style from insecure anxious and avoidant to being more secure.
The lessons I’ve learned in this journey parallel the exact lessons and wisdom you need to stop binge eating.
For example, avoiding people get overwhelmed by their feelings. They seek to avoid their feelings. One defense mechanism is thinking, and planning, instead of feeling.
So, and part of my attachment journey and healing, I’ve had to learn to connect to my body. This might sound weird, but for most of my life I did not know how to connect with my body. If I felt anxious or sad or angry, I would try to analyze and plan out my behavior.
It turns out thinking too much isn’t good.
The Bond Between Mother And Child Psychology Gets Harmed By Needing Defense Mechanisms
Thinking for me was a defense mechanism. As a child, I learned to think instead of to feel because I felt bad all the time.
So later on in life too, I had a deeply conditioned pattern of avoiding feelings. Instead I would eat, try to lose weight, and smoke weed.
Because after stuffing down the anxious feelings and depression, I would also stuff myself with food and weed. Back when I wrestled I would routinely gain weight and lose weight.
Let’s examine this and more depth – why do eating and attachment struggles go hand-in-hand?
Here’s a typical example.
Let’s say your mom was more of the anxious type. So when you cried as a baby she would get anxious. Instead of remaining calm, maybe she would get upset at you.
Perhaps there weren’t many financial resources available, so your mom had to work a few jobs and this pressure made her very nervous.
Or, perhaps you as a baby just sensed your mom’s anxiety and picked that up. Either way, being around an anxious mom will tend to lead to anxious children.
How does the bond between mother and child psychology relate to food?
Well, it’s pretty easy to imagine a mom being a little too hands-on, like a helicopter parent.
I’m sure you can easily picture well-intentioned mom who totally suffocates her kids with her attention. Behaviorally, she might always be looking to the amount of food her kids are eating and measuring her kids foods.
Of course, it’s also easy to see how an anxious attachment style would lead to worries about weight and constant conversations and remarks about weight, which easily could disordered eating.
Avoidant attachment style is similar. There’s neglect. Perhaps your parents are overly logical and distant and cold, like mine.
Perhaps you didn’t get enough food as a kid, because your parents didn’t recognize when you’re hungry and feed you. This could lead to a deprivation and sense of distrust around food.
So let’s get practical – how to figure out which attachment style you are.
This quiz may not be perfectly accurate. For example, I am a rare hybrid of anxious and avoidant, but the quiz will only tell you that you are one or the other. In reality, you probably fall on a spectrum and lean towards being secure, anxious or avoidant but have tendencies of all three.
Another rule of thumb is to look at your relationships.
If you’re always alone, independent, only in short relationships, then you are probably avoidant attachment. This was my default pattern before I got help.
If you are always getting into relationships quickly, falling in love very quickly, feeling anxious when the other person isn’t there, then you are probably anxious.
And lastly, you might have a secure attachment style but still suffer from an eating disorder or disorder eating.
That’s okay. Anyone who has tried to lose weight and failed and tried again and again and again might go crazy. Please remember that none of this is your fault. And you can make things better.
Now – what to do about binge eating once you know your attachment style?
You can choose a variety of professional resources and there’s tons of information online about both binge eating and other resources about attachment.
But perhaps the biggest thing you can do is to simply forgive yourself.
I know this sounds crazy.
But denial is what keeps people stuck for years in dieting circles. They can’t face their past or who they really are. They turn to dieting instead. Part of the reason dieting is their solution to all their problems, is because they don’t forgive themselves.
So hopefully this small blog article can help you face who you are, without shame, and let go of dieting and to focus on healthier behaviors instead.