Did you experience a traumatic event? Did someone endanger you, violate you, and hurt you? If so you may be suffering and struggling like some of the clients I work with. Today I want to specifically talk about how trauma and eating disorders are related.

What is Trauma?

Trauma causes you to feel like the world is no longer safe. People, places, and situations seem scary and overwhelming. Trauma causes you to re-live the nightmare over and over and over again. You just want the memories and the pain, whether physical or emotional, or both, to stop.
A lot of my clients have tried a lot of things to make the pain the memories stop. One way they do this is by trying to control their eating. I see people trying to numb the emotional pain and memories by binge eating.

Why are trauma and eating disorders so closely related?

Trauma may have caused you to feel your body was violated. You were told you were no good, disgusting, fat, ugly, and other horrible things. Although you do not want to believe these things and you can probably tell me in your rational mind these things are not true, these statements turn into your core beliefs. So even when you do not want those thoughts to be there, they are silently whispering in your mind. When you think terrible things about yourself you are more likely to treat yourself poorly. You will start to make attempts to change your body, therefore you start to struggle with what you eat.

Trauma and Eating Disorders

I have had clients say to me they do not deserve to eat and they are punishing their body for what happened to them. Trauma can cause a lot of guilt and shame and can cause you to believe you deserve to be hungry. I have also heard people say they want their body to be “disgusting” so no one will ever try to hurt their body again. You may want to over eat because you want to numb and avoid the memories and feelings your trauma causes you to experience. Binging is a way to avoid feeling because you can eat and stuff your feelings. The problem with that is that after you eat you feel guilty and need a way to numb that feeling so you want to to binge eat again. I have also seen people develop disordered eating by obsessing about a particular diet, exercise, or weight loss. In this case it seems emotionally easier to obsess about your body, exercise, or what you going to eat then to focus on your trauma.

Not everyone with trauma has an eating disorder and not everyone with an eating disorder has experienced a trauma, but trauma and eating disorders are closely related. We, as humans, do not like to experience pain and upset so we do everything we can to avoid it. I have seen people who use disorders eating to do that. My wellness tip is to get help. Tell someone you are hurting and find someone safe to talk to. You do not have to live in this sucky place.

If you found this video helpful, please like it and share it. Do not forget to subscribe, I post new videos every week. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. I am here to help people get help. Take care and “see” you next time.

*Dr. Stephanie Waitt, LPC is a psychotherapist in private practice in Sherman, Texas. Stephanie works with young and successful women to help restore balance and peace. She specializes in working with individuals with eating disorders, trauma, anxiety, and depression.