Why It's So Hard To Admit That You Have A Food Problem

"Nooo! I don't want to admit I have a food problem!" None of us do, but we've got to if we want to get better.

Big thanks to reader Jenn whose question brought up a super-important issue: how hard it is to even admit that we have a problem with overeating.

Q: First off I wanted to tell you how much I love your website:) I also binge and am having my first doctor’s appointment next week at my college, then will be admitted to group therapy. I am a little bit afraid of this process because it feels like if I go through with it, it means that my bingeing is a reality and not “something that happens once or twice a week.” What can I expect in this treatment and what advice do you have for me beginning this process? Thanks in advance for you help. —Jenn, 21

Thanks so much for writing! It’s so awesome that you’re taking action and seeing someone at your school psychological services center. Yes, it’s scary at first—I remember when I really started working on my food and body issues I felt like I was “damaged” goods. Like I was some sort of broken toy. Weak, when other people were strong.

But that feeling didn’t last forever. With every book I read, meeting I went to and other person I reached out to for support, I started to understand that I wasn’t worth less than other people because of this problem, and I wasn’t as weird as I thought. Binge eating was something that my subconscious pushed me to do in order to PROTECT me. To help me deal with my feelings. It was a coping mechanism that I used when I didn’t have any other good tools to help me through hard times, or just through life. How can you blame yourself for something you started doing to try to take care of yourself?

Thing is, it’s not a healthy way to cope. It’s a crutch that quickly becomes destructive rather than helpful. You obviously understand that now and are taking the first (very brave) steps toward learning other ways to take care of yourself. That’s admirable.

Just remember that, yes, this path is going to be tough—but getting better is infinitely easier and more pleasant than living a life full of bingeing and self-hate. I’m happier and more successful now than I could have ever imagined. Really. And you can be, too.

Let me know how the appointment at school goes!

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3 Responses to Why It's So Hard To Admit That You Have A Food Problem

  1. Katie says:

    Sunny’s line “Weak, when other people were strong” really resonated with me. Most of us feel very alone with our problems, like we are the only weak/imperfect/broken ones. But we are ALL broken. We ALL have imperfections. And we are all made up of of weaknesses and strengths. We are ashamed of these seeming “faults” and so we hide them and feel like we are the only ones with problems. We create our own loneliness! When we open up and reach out we discover that other people are just like us, hiding away the parts of us that are most human and inevitably most lovable.

  2. It is so freeing to admit when we have a problem…and once we do, it tends to lose its power over us. Here’s one of my favorite quotes (insert any word of your choice, for “evil”, like “binging” or “food addiction”)

    “Evil is like a shadow - it has no real substance of its own, it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it.” - Shakti Gawain, teacher and author (1948- )

  3. Autumn says:

    Something that was helpful to me in seeking treatment was seeing that because, yes, it was a problem, it was something that could be treated. Without naming the problem, it’s really difficult to know where to begin in healing. But this IS a problem, and it’s one that a lot of people have…and that a lot of people have recovered from.

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.