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  • Writer's pictureLaura Reside-Robb

7 signs you need help with the way you feel about food

1.Thinking about food, eating or calories make it difficult to concentrate on things you enjoy

Sometimes when you are struggling with how you feel about food, and yourself, you can find yourself only thinking about what you have, or haven’t eaten, how many calories you’ve taken in or burnt off. It’s a warning sign when you then find yourself unable to watch your favourite programme, hanging out with friends, just relaxing, or whatever you usually love doing, because your mind is in over drive thinking about food, weight, or calories.

If you find yourself unable to do the things you normally love or can’t concentrate on them because your mind is filled with thoughts about food, or how you look, or what you weigh, it might be time to contact a professional to explore how you’re feeling about yourself and food, so you can get back to enjoying the things you love.

2. You have an intense fear of gaining weight

When you first read that, you might think ‘oh I wouldn’t want to gain weight’ does that mean I have a problem? There is a marked difference between thinking you wouldn’t like to gain any weight, compared to the idea of gaining any weight, even what we might consider a small amount of a single pound, as profoundly upsetting.

It might be time to consider speaking to someone if the idea of gaining a pound, is so upsetting it would upset you all day, if you’re thinking ‘I’d rather have anything else happen than gain any weight’. If you catch yourself constantly weighing yourself or taking photos of yourself to try and analyse for any weight gain daily, or even several times a day, a professional might be able to help you manage these fears in a way that they don’t affect your life quite so profoundly.

3.You feel like you lose control over your eating, at the time you were eating.

While many people would admit to recognising an occasion where they had eaten much more, or much more quickly than they felt comfortable with, there’s a big difference between recognising the odd over eating meal or time, to feeling out of control of your eating.

If you feel like you are eating objectively large amounts of food in a short space of time, and feel unable to stop yourself, unable to do anything but eat, that you’ve lost control for that moment, then it’s a definite sign that you might need help with your eating. Feeling out of control when your eating, isn’t something we should have to endure, and there are people who can help.

If you feel like this twice a month or more, then it’s time to seriously consider contacting a professional to help you regain control of your eating.

4.You’re using excessive exercise or other means of controlling weight and shape

Lots of people use exercise to influence their weight or shape, and most of the time this is a healthy part of their lifestyle.

Warning signs however start to appear if you find yourself punishing yourself for not working out intensely, or only allow yourself to eat anything if you burn so many calories or feel intense guilt if you can’t make a work out. It can be hard to pin point the moment exercise becomes excessive, it’s very subjective, and if you’re a professional athlete you’ll exercise a lot, probably every day.

If you’re not a professional or aspiring athlete, and you’re exercising for several hours, every day, with very repetitive exercise, such as a 2 hour run, or a 20mile bike, it becomes much more of a red flag, and it could be worth considering how you feel about your relationship with exercise, and if you find it’s a love hate one, or you feel controlled by having to exercise, it might be time to contact a professional about how you are feeling and using exercise.

And if you find yourself making yourself sick or using laxatives in the hope of controlling your weight or shape, it’s time to seriously consider contacting a professional immediately about your relationship with food, weight, and how you are feeling.

5.When you eat you feel guilty

If you find yourself with feelings of guilt and being a failure each time you eat, then this is a warning sign that something isn’t quite right with your relationship with food.

Whether you eat an objectively small amount of food and feel guilty for eating anything, or you feel you’ve eaten an objectively large amount of food and then feel very guilty about having done so. Guilt isn’t a feeling we should accept as part of our eating cycle, and if you feel like this on more than a couple of occasions in a month, then it’s certainly worth contacting a profession about your relationship with food.

6.You’re very concerned about other people seeing you eat

If you find yourself panicking about people seeing you eat, so that you hide food to eat when you’re alone or would skip meals if it meant someone would be there to see you eat. If you’d rather eat in secret, in your room, bathroom, or just a locked room rather than with others, and the idea of eating in front of people creates panic, or you start arguments to avoid having to eat with them, then it sounds time to consider contacting a professional to help you manage your fears and anxieties about eating in front of others.

If you find yourself making up that you’ve already eaten to friends or family, as an excuse to avoid eating in front of them, or to avoid eating at all. If you find yourself making things up about why you’re not eating, or to avoid concern or questions from other about why you don’t appear to be eating, then there’s a warning sign that something isn’t right with your relationship with food, and it’s time to consider contacting a professional.

7. You often skips meals as a way to influence your weight and shape

If you’re regularly deliberately skipping meals or eating very little to control your weight and shape, then it’s time to ask yourself why you are doing this.

Skipping meals has a physical impact on our bodies, and certainly shouldn’t be done on a regular basis. And if you’re doing this because you’re desperately trying to lose weight, or your afraid if you do eat you’ll gain weight then red flags are starting to appear.

If you skip meals, even though you’re hungry, you feel faint, or irritable, but chose to ignore those feelings and not eat, then the red flags become even more pronounced and it’s time to contact a professional about your relationship with food, to try and help you regain some control over your thoughts and fear about weight, shape and food.

Laura Reside-Robb is a qualified psychotherapist and runs her own clinic in which she provides psychological therapies for a range of conditions, with speciality training in eating disorders. If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder or are struggling to cope with a loved one who has an eating disorder, click here to book an initial appointment.

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