If only we could say that we eat because we’re hungry, and we stop when our hunger is satiated. But does anyone really eat that way? We eat for comfort. We abstain because of fear. We eat to socialize. We abstain to be liked. We eat to be entertained. We abstain to punish ourselves. With the briefest of reflections, we quickly realize we have a very complex and elaborate relationship with food.
This complex relationship with food starts very young; actually, from infancy. Food is used to get a child to stop crying. Food is used as a reward (extra dessert) and a punishment (no dessert). When you ate all the food on your plate, you were a “big boy” or “big girl,” but you couldn’t get up from the table until you ate at least five more bites of your vegetables.
Food has always been more than fuel. We learn to use food for many reasons long before we had the ability to reason.
We see in this statement the two realities we will explore in this step: (1) our disordered eating has a history and (2) our disordered eating has motives. Both perspectives are useful in our efforts to gain a healthy relationship with food.
We do what we do to get what we want. That is true of all human behavior. Lasting change requires changes in our motives. We need a healthy “why” we eat if we’re going to get to a healthy relationship with “what” we eat.
But we’ve also been doing what we’re doing for a long time. Habit is the momentum of the soul. Habit easily fools us into believing that self-sabotage can be comforting. We keep doing what we’re doing because change is hard. Unless we carefully examine and expose our unhealthy eating habits we will blindly repeat them because “they haven’t killed us… yet.”
These are the two subjects we’ll examine in this step: history and motive.
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