Emotional trauma is a very painful experience that can lead to weeks, months and even years of emotional distress. People will turn to a variety of things to help them cope with their intense feelings relating to the trauma. For some people, food becomes a source of comfort as they try to — literally — push down their feelings with food. Trauma and weight gain go hand in hand when the person suffering begins to emotionally eat. Sometimes this emotional eating, combined with the mental effects of the traumatic event, can lead to a serious eating disorder known as compulsive overeating.
Emotional Eating vs. Compulsive Overeating
Emotional eating and compulsive overeating are very similar; in fact, emotional eating is one of the driving forces behind compulsive overeating. Both behaviors are performed as a way to cope with stress, depression, low self-esteem and other hidden issues. The difference, however, is that emotional eating is a behavior that can usually be controlled. Compulsive overeating, on the other hand, is an obsession with food that makes it impossible for the person to control their impulse to eat. Compulsive overeaters will binge or continuously eat throughout the day and be unable to stop, even if they’ve eaten past the point of feeling uncomfortably full or even sick. Compulsive overeating is a serious eating disorder that can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, organ damage and other dangerous health effects.
How to Heal from Trauma and Lose Weight
Eating disorders have complex roots that are often related to exposure to trauma, low self-esteem, depression, loss of control, feelings of worthlessness, family dysfunction, and a lack of coping skills. For some people, eating disorders become a coping mechanism for dealing with these unwanted thoughts, emotions and memories. Just like an alcoholic uses alcohol to cope, a person with an eating disorder will turn to food to cope with stress and control their feelings, whether it’s through binge eating, purging or restricting their food.
Everyone knows that in order to lose weight you have to exercise, eat healthy and burn more calories than you consume. But what trauma survivors who’ve gained weight need to understand is that they will continue to have a lifelong battle with weight unless they address the issues related to their traumatic experience. If these underlying issues aren’t healed, they will continue to turn to food and other unhealthy ways of coping with their history of trauma.
If you want to heal from trauma and lose weight, try the following tips:
* Talk about it. The more you bottle up your emotions, the more likely you’ll turn to food to push these emotions down. Talk to a trusted friend, family member or join a support group for trauma survivors.
* Give yourself permission to heal. Oftentimes feelings of self-blame and shame make us feel like we need to suffer or don’t deserve a life of happiness. Beneath these evil inner voices, though, you know in your heart that this is untrue. Give yourself permission to heal and stop dwelling on the past and move forward.
* Stop punishing yourself. You are not responsible for the traumatic experience, so stop punishing yourself for it. Replace your punishing behavior with acts of self-love and self-respect. An easy way to start being good to yourself is to eat healthier foods and exercise regularly.
* Seek professional help. You are not alone. There are thousands of trauma survivors, just like you, who are unable to heal on their own. Luckily, there are treatment centers that specialize in helping trauma survivors overcome their feelings of hopelessness, depression, eating disorders and more. Contact a treatment center today and find out how you can finally begin the healing process.