After birth, newborns first seek nourishment. Food, our basic form of nourishment is primal to our existence. For good reason, much attention is given to the eating disorders known as anorexia and bulimia since they are very serious symptoms that can threaten life. These problems however are not the only ones people can have with food. Since taking in nourishment is so very basic, many people today struggle with food in a variety of ways. Our culture places great value on the “perfect (but quite unattainable)” body. The media pumps us full of imagines of young and anorexic looking woman, creating a standard for all women. Men are shown perfectly packed physiques whereby masculinity becomes apportioned accordingly. Body image emotionally symbolizes such things as value, beauty, worth, status, appeal, security, abundance and deprivation. Food can make people feel full but it can also make people feel out of control.
There are many levels in which therapy helps work with food issues. Focusing on eating habits, food groups and lifestyle is one arena. Understanding one’s relationship to food is also important. Food can feed an emotional craving, it can keep feelings from surfacing and it can be something that needs to be controlled.
Becoming aware of the role food has in ones life is critical in resolving issues with it. Exploring how emotions and food intersect is critical. Beliefs and assumptions about body image and the nature of self worth need to be challenged. New strategies in achieving life goals and a healthier relationship with self can be the focus rather than symbolized through less healthy eating patterns.
Working with issues surrounding food may not be an easy commitment, but it surely outweighs the pain and struggle modern day people suffer in relation to it.