When you bring up the subject of food issues, and things like weight control and binge eating, it strikes a very personal chord for many people. It’s a touchy subject, and one that often times comes with a great deal of self-shame. According to statistics, it’s estimated that up to 30 million people in the US alone suffer with some type of eating disorder. *
To say that you are not alone if you struggle with food in any way, is an understatement, but it’s important to understand that for those who have or current do live with any type of food issue, often times they absolutely feel alone. This has been a personal struggle for me, and a really a life long battle that has more ups and downs than you shake a stick at.
So when I was approached by my friend, and returning podcast guest, Davina Lytle, about discussing this subject on the show, I had some unsettling feelings. Not because I didn’t want to talk about it, but because I wanted to make very sure that we covered it in a way that was validating, encouraging, and supportive for everyone who listens.
Davina writes for her blog, on DavinaLytle.com, and shares how “I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) just over 12 years ago, but I’ve had it most of my life. I don’t function like most other people, but I believe I function quite well for someone with PTSD. I try to look at things positively and I try to avoid things that are negative; especially people, because I take a lot of things to heart.”
As we get started on the podcast, Davina talks about when her struggles with binge eating began, and how it started about the same that her parents had split up and abuse in the home began to escalate. She talks about “eating her words”, and you’ll learn how by doing so it became a substitute for reaching out and asking for help.
We talk about the struggles that both of us endured, since our stories are similar in some ways, of using food as a coping mechanism and a comfort. How sitting around and downing a bag of chips and a bowl of ice cream became the go to way for dealing with stress, anxiety, and numbing from the pain of what was unfolding around us while growing up.
Into adulthood, the struggle is still real because things that were learned in younger years had carried over and those unhealthy coping strategies and using food to numb the pain had also carried over. As she shares, food became a way for her to try to avoid the very subject of men and relationships.
“I figured if I got fat then I would be unattractive to men who were inappropriate with their actions and words…but you know what, it didn’t. It just kept on.”
For me personally, this part of the discussion hit home because I had used food as a way to hide, and be invisible when I was younger. I figured, much like Davina, that if I kept eating, nobody would pay attention to me and I wouldn’t get bullied and picked on in school. To me food, was something that was comforting, always there, never talked back, and felt good…that is until the shame and guilt cycle would kick in.
As we discuss, we not only judge ourselves because of the way that we look, but then we also shame ourselves because of the way we deal with how we look, again by eating. The cycle just keeps going on and on, eating and shame, eating and shame, and it wasn’t until Davina was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, that things began to change…because her life now depended on it.
Once that diagnosis was made, she started to change how she looked at food, and using eating to cope was longer going to be the norm. She started cooking her meals from scratch, instead of from a box, and began to take a keen interest in exactly what she was feeding herself and her family. By doing so, the revelation came to light that if she wanted to get to and maintain a healthy weight, control her diabetes, and have a healthier relationship with food in general, it had to start with her…and not just in the kitchen.
Things had to change, not only with her approach to food, but also by developing additional, healthy alternative coping skills. Taking up Tai Chi was something that helped her “get out of her own head” and focus on something other than the daily struggles of life. This was life changing for her, and in terms of trauma survivors, finding anything to focus on that isn’t self-destructive, is so important.
We discuss these topics and more, in-depth, during our show…so grab those headphones or plug us into your car speakers and join us on the podcast.
Thanks again Davina for sharing so openly, and for validating all who struggle with finding a healthy relationship with food. your insight will surely encourage so many with a message of hope!
If you’d like more information on working with a certified life coach, or if you have questions about how working with a life coach might be right for you, go for it and schedule your free intro session! Always remember, You Are Worth It…and there is hope for moving forward from what holds you back.
This post and podcast is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.