Could Food Obsession Be Linked to Behavior Changes?

By September 28, 2012

Hello, my question is this. About a year ago all of my friends would have described me as a laid back, go-with-the-flow type of person. I wouldn’t stress out about something unless it was a major project or test and things never bothered me much. However, ask my friends or boyfriend about me now and they will say that I am uptight and very high-strung. I can’t seem to relax no matter what I do, my mind is always racing and I am always thinking about food…what I should/shouldn’t eat today, always planning my meals out in my head so as not to eat too much or eat unhealthy. I believe that all of this obsessing about food is causing me to not enjoy life because I can’t seem to chill out. I am 5’ 4” and *** lbs. I exercise 6 days a week usually for an hour and I still have negative thoughts about my body. Could my obsession with food be linked to my behavior changes? If so, is there anything I can do so that I am not so obsessed with food all of the time? – J.V.

Dear JV:

I applaud your self awareness and appreciate your question. A shift from a self- described contentment with life to suffering increased personal anxieties (“uptight”, “high-strung”, “can’t relax”, “mind racing”, “should/should not eat” foods) is definitely a red flag. The strive for perfectionism, the tendency to obsess about weight/ food/exercise, and the inability to let oneself relax are characteristics associated with eating disordered persons.

Significant life events, transition points, conflict, fear of intimacy, fear of relationship progression, or just feeling “stuck” can cause behaviors that are obsessive, anxious and/or compulsive. You may want to take the time to journal the events of the last year in your life. What is different—the good and the not so good?

Keep in mind that eating disordered individuals can insulate themselves from the truth of what is actually going on in their lives by choosing to focus in on their bodies and food. I encourage you to consider at least a short-term counseling relationship with a helpful professional. (See “Finding Treatment.”) You are very aware that something is “different” about your behavior and you are choosing a path of coping that involves obsessing on food and exercise. I encourage you to struggle against this strong temptation and find out what is really eating you.