What Caused Your Food Issues? Here's What I Think "Caused" Mine

Oh, DNA. You pass along some of the darndest things.

Reader Jennifer, 38, emailed me the other day asking what I think kicked off my food issues:

I was wondering what were some of the personal and emotional issues that were related to your food issues? I have gone to counseling and attended eating disorder groups and feel as though I have made a good effort to resolve many issues. I know those issues are different for everyone but I wonder what I may be overlooking…

Oh, Jen. That’s quite a long story (hence,  chapters 3 and 4 in my upcoming book!)—but I can definitely give you an abridged version, and ask the HealthyGirl.org community to weigh in with their own.

1. First, genetics. I’m not the only person in my family who binges or stress eats. And there is a ton of research about how binge eating may be hereditary. Thanks, DNA!

2. I grew up in a family where looks and thinness were prized. That meant foods that could make you “fat”—you know, anything yummy like sweets, chips, etc.—were bad. That made them all the more attractive to me; and when I did get my hands on them, I wanted to eat and eat and eat.

3. My parents divorced when I was 14. It rocked my little world, for real. I had been body conscious and weird about food before then (first diet at age 8!), but 14 is when the actual binge eating began.

4. I was (am? nah, mostly was) a total perfectionist. People who expect perfection constantly “fail” in their own eyes, and that hurts your self esteem and causes general pain and agita. Food was my soother for all that.

There are so many other triggers for those of us who’ve fought eating issues: Teasing from kids in school, verbal or sexual abuse, possible addiction to certain foods. HealthyGirl.org readers, what do you think yours were? xo…Sunny

6 Responses to What Caused Your Food Issues? Here's What I Think "Caused" Mine

  1. Hillary says:

    Among MANY other things, the main thing for me was growing up in a family that wasn’t great at expressing emotions. I’m a much more emotional person and was always lead by my family to believe that I was “a drama queen” and that it was a weakness. Having to stifle who I truly was and hold back these emotions all the time made me feel like there was something wrong with me, and I literally stuffed all of those emotions down with food.

    Hang in there Jennifer! It took a lot of therapy and time for me to have that lightbulb moment, and its not always as obvious of a trigger as you think. But with patience, it will come!

    • Dandy says:

      I just had a binge session and was looking trough some srticles to make me feel better and as I read your reply I instantly thought that I have the same problem as you. My family also never expresses their feelings that’s way we all console with food. I also have a problem with being perfectionist, and if I don’t suceed I eat. Also when I have to study and am affraid of failure like today I just want to eat and can’t stop myself. I kepp making these plans to stop binging but I don’t follow them later. I hope it stops one day. I hope that will be the day i move out.

  2. Hope says:

    I liked this post! I’m always trying to pinpoint exactly what causes my eating behaviors because I believe that if I’m aware of what’s causing it I more easily recover by focusing on that specific issue. What I’ve come to conclude causes my binge eating and other irregular eating habits is that my family is very health-oriented (as you said yours are), and therefore discuss health foods and weight often. My grandmother does not hold back her comments on my weight whether it be that I’ve put on or lost weight and look good. Both comments make me uneasy because I know she is acknowledging how I look. I always feel like I’m under a radar and she’s indirectly putting pressure on me to be thin.
    Unfortunately, discovering that this is probably the main cause has not really helped me improve my ways.

  3. Thanks for sharing some of your triggers so openly. It’s always helpful to hear others to help recognize one’s own, and thus to face and deal with them. Obviously a lot of the triggers you mentioned are common to many girls and women, but I think genetics is frequently overlooked. I think it’s useful to consider how temperament and genetics (things we are born with) contribute, because it helps to remove some of the guilt that can be frequently associated with disordered eating.

    By the way, I’m a new reader and love the site!

    • Sunny says:

      Welcome, Ashley. And thanks for weighing in! I definitely agree that genetics and temperament are key. I think it helps take some of the “blaming” feeling away from our parents and families, too. Because, as much as their beliefs may have impacted us, it’s not all about nuture—so much of it depends on nature.

  4. Carmen says:

    This post just inspired me to do the same! I tollaty let the number on the scale effect my mood and make me feel good or bad (as much I try NOT To) . I was going back and forth about what to give up and this is it!! I am going to give up the scale too!

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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.