Advice /4th Jun 20

Are you concerned about your own or someone you love and their relationship with food?

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Written by Teresa Daly, Counselling Psychologist at the Rutland Centre

Are you concerned about your own or someone you love and their relationship with food?

Each person with an eating disorder has their own unique personal struggles and challenges with achieving their own sense of autonomy, control, ways of coping and achieving acceptance. These struggles have been primarily expressed within the domain of food, weight and body image. This is referred to as a disordered relationship with food.

What does a disordered relationship with food look like?

Eating disorders are a complex condition and are essentially ‘cognitive’ in their nature.

What this means is that they are perpetuated and driven by an intense over-evaluation and preoccupation of and with shape, weight, body image and their control of these.

Whereas the majority of people evaluate themselves on the basis of performance in relation to the quality of their relationships, work performance and other various domains of life, people with a disordered relationship with food, have a tendency to judge their self-worth largely, or even exclusively, in terms of their shape, weight, body image and their ability to control them.

An eating disorder can be likened to a ‘tornado’ which causes collateral damage to every aspect of one’s life.


  • vDoes eating rule your life?

  • vDo you think a great deal about food and weight?

  • vAre you unhappy and distressed about your eating behavior?

  • vIs some of your behavior with food secretive?

  • vDoes it give worry to loved ones?

  • vDo you have multiple dietary rules that you strictly adhere to?

  • vDo you restrain and restrict food intake?

  • vDo you binge, purge?

  • vDo you misuse/abuse laxatives?

  • vAre you driven to over-exercise?

  • vDo you constantly compare yourself to others?

A combination of some or multiple of the above could indicate a disordered relationship with food and it might be helpful to get some professional advice or guidance.

These MOTIVATIONAL REFLECTIONS might be useful in helping you or a loved one understand that your relationship with food has created a disparity between your behavior now and what you might like your life to look like in reality. Reflecting privately on these questions might help motivate you to consider making changes or give you strength to reach out for help.

  • How is the eating disorder affecting your life?

  • How would you like your life to be?

  • Would you like to be able to get up in the morning and not worry about food?

  • Would you like to be able to eat without losing control?

  • Would you like to be to sleep better?

  • Be able to enjoy the things that interest you?

  • What do you tell yourself about why you have this problem?


  • üEat breakfast EVERY day

  • üEat within an hour of waking up

  • üDo it every day


  • üKeep a food journal

  • üFood diaries are an important tool for exploration and helping to identify your patterns and what meaning they have.


  • üIt is very important to REGULATE your eating. This is crucial for blood sugar control, which is necessary for weight stability. This means eating three meals a day. Focus on SUPERFOODS.

  • üAbstinence from alcohol is strongly recommended.

  • üSupport is absolutely crucial. No one can do it alone!

This article is not intended to be an assessment of any person’s possible eating disorder nor is it intended to act in lieu of specialist advice or treatment. If you are concerned about your own health or that of a loved one, we would in every instance recommend that you visit your GP or speak to a appropriate treatment service provider.

Supports Available:

Eating Disorder Recovery Fellowship (EDA)

Overeaters Fellowship (OA)


Website Resources:

Reading Resources:

Potatoes not Prozac : Kathleen DesMaisons PhD

Food Addiction: The Body Knows : Kay Sheppard

Overcoming Binge Eating, 2nd Edition : Christopher Fairburn

Treatment Providers

The Rutland Centre

Body Whys


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