How Can Eating Issues Affect Our Lives?
Whether it is anorexia, bulimia, food addictions, or simply having a relationship with food that we regard as less than healthy, countless numbers of us struggle with eating issues.
The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders website displays some very telling numbers. At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. alone. 11% of women and 4% of men are at risk for eating disorders.2 One group of women who lived separately in a social sorority had the highest risk of 15%.2 The greater prevalence in females mirrors societal messages and expectations. For instance, most female fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women, 80% of whom are unhappy with how they look.3
What’s more, these trends start at a very young age. By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life. 51% percent of 9 and 10 year old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet. It is important to note that 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting.3
Our Relationship With Food
These disorders can have serious health consequences. Eating disorders have the second highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders, surpassed only by opioid addiction.3 Among those who struggle with anorexia, 1 in 5 deaths is by suicide.3 Many more of us struggle with overeating and other challenging relationships with food that don’t technically fall under a specific disorder name.
Many times, the programs designed to help those with eating issues focus on changing behavior. Certainly changing behavior is important, but attempting to change behaviors without changing the beliefs that fuel them becomes an uphill battle fraught with backsliding.
We have found that, for a large number of people, their relationship with food is a microcosm of their relationship to their entire lives. When someone believes that their life is out of their control, for instance, they may seek to regain it by attempting to control their world; and one of the ways they might do this is by strictly limiting what and how much they eat. When someone feels that their life is empty, and they are a victim to the emptiness, they may endeavor to fill the void with food.
How Can the Option Institute Help?
We can help you to uncover the beliefs you hold which fuel your relationship with food. We do this in a very nonjudgmental manner, and we don’t try to convince you to change how you eat. We simply give you the opportunity to decide what type of relationship you’d like to have with food, and then we give you tools and assistance with dropping the often undiscovered beliefs in your way. Then we can help you learn to construct a new set of beliefs to set you on the long-term track you desire.
Indeed, we have had participants in the past who have moved beyond their overeating, anorexia or bulimia.
If you have decided that it’s finally time to leave your eating issue by the wayside and forge a new relationship with food, we can provide you with a kind of assistance you have probably never received before.
When I arrived at the Option Institute last Sunday, I had spent years struggling with self judgment, judgment of my body, yearning for a “mother” to heal me. Now, after this outstanding program, I have, for the first time ever, been able to feel my perfection at this moment, look in the mirror and see beauty, feel that I have healed myself by taking in the comfort of being held, and have felt my own strength and power to direct my growth.
Cardiology Practice Administrator, Maryland
The Weigh Happier Program is not about pounds – losing or gaining. It’s about how we relate to our bodies and food. This isn’t a way to diet. It’s a way to look at our hang-ups we may have about food and our bodies. After this week, how I see food and my body is radically different. It’s like starting over, but this time choosing how I want to see them both in the most comfortable way.
- Risk for Disordered Eating Relates to both Gender and Ethnicity for College Students – www.tandfonline.com