Trauma as the Cause of Eating Disorders

As a trauma therapist, I am constantly asked how trauma is linked to body image, food and weight, and my answer is that trauma is connected to self-worth, and self-worth, or rather lack thereof, is connected to body image, food and weight. When we don’t feel good about who we are, we will attempt to fix ourselves in any way we can to gain a sense of confidence. Instead of looking at the conflicts within our emotional world, we attempt to fix the body, which becomes the outlet and the canvas for hate. Our arms, legs, thighs, stomachs and faces are scrutinized, loathed, rejected, all because we don’t like who we are…or we don’t like parts of who we are. All to change ourselves and feel worthy. I do wish to say that this is significantly more complex than what can be said about it in this blog, and I plan to dedicate further blogs to this issue, but my goal here is to help people understand that changing the body shape is never just about wanting to look different. Rather, it is about a conscious or unconscious attempt at healing or avoiding something within ourselves that causes great pain, something that cannot be healed through any eating disorder symptom. This is why recovery from an eating disorder is so complicated and cannot be achieved by working through body image or the relationship with food alone. Recovery, not just a reduction of symptoms, can only occur when the pain or beliefs at the core of the disorder are explored, challenged and healed. This takes patience, time, and most importantly, self-compassion. So I will end with encouraging you to be kind to yourself amidst this very difficult challenge and continue to seek out the help and support you need or if you’re not struggling with ED, provide the help and support that someone you know may need. Remember, people don’t need to hear they look great….people need to hear they’re great human beings.