I run a therapeutic food addiction support group for women who struggle with food, a relationship with food and body, and recovery.
The group is designed to support, heal, challenge, and provide tools to release the bind of addiction, the cycle of addictive thinking and behavior, and to create a community of authenticity and vulnerability in which to talk about…well, anything!
You see, food addiction is not about the food.
I know that may sound curious, as food is what we are talking about, but it really is a coping mechanism for the body and mind to navigate through deeper thoughts, fears, traumas, sadness, grief, uncertainty, pain, perfectionism, abandonment, learned behaviors, loneliness, societal images and ideals, etc etc etc. You see, food addiction and recovery either, within an individual or support group environment, is really about feeling, experiencing, coping with, and navigating life, and perceptions and experiences, with a greater degree of compassion and support, than perhaps had been experienced before.
Food addiction, like any addiction, in any of its forms, is truly an informant, a road map so to say, to where the pain lies.
This would be part of my list of some food addiction symptoms – not the typical list which often puts a focus on food, or behaviors:
- A desire to not be in so much pain
- A desire to feel – differently
- A disconnect from compassion, love, grace
- A repetitive, go to, fine-tuned “tool” that involves food or behaviors around food
- A desire to be “numb” from experiences, thoughts, beliefs
- A learned, patterned, habitual coping mechanism
- A belief that societal images are the goal – even when they are ever-changing
- A way to organize, control
- A spotlight that shines on where the body, mind, and spirit, are in pain
Support groups are a powerful therapeutic experience. They are an opportunity to provide support, to witness another, to learn from, and to gain insight into one’s own behaviors, coping mechanisms, and positive ways to shift perspective and action. The power of community can not be underestimated and underemphasized. Finding a non-judgemental group of individuals to witness and to share with can be a profound experience. There is healing power in authenticity and vulnerability. There is healing power in having our words, and emotions witnessed. There is healing power in being a part of a community, a tribe, a supportive network.
So what exactly is a food addiction support group? The answer is: a group of people coming together with some common connections and an endless array of unique and individual aspects, all with some common goals – to heal, to gain insight into self, to shift negative coping mechanisms to positive ones, to shift from a need to control to one of experiencing life, on life’s terms, to support another, and ultimately to become liberated from a tangled, intertwined relationship with food.
I invite you to ponder the following questions regarding support groups:
- Is it scary to join a food addiction support group? Maybe…maybe not.
- Will emotions be discussed? Yes
- Will food be discussed? Yes
- Are there any topics off-limits in the support group? No
- Can I find newfound support in a support group? Yes
- Will I be allowed to sit with feelings, even the uncomfortable ones? Yes
- Will I want to sit with the feelings, even the uncomfortable ones? Maybe…maybe not.
- Will I be judged? No
- Will I judge myself? Maybe…maybe not.
- Will I learn about alternative ways of coping with feelings and thoughts? Yes
We as humans are meant to be in a community, to navigate the easy and the challenging. A group is a community! What if today became the day, you allowed yourself to join?