I always doubted my sanity; I always thought that I was crazy for having food anxiety. It ranges from being afraid of certain foods and what they could do to my body and ends with feeling disgusted after eating.
For instance, I was always skeptical about the kind of fruits and veggies I bought; I was afraid that they would be full of hormones, pests, and diseases. I loved the taste of junk food but could never help but feel sick after consuming it. There was always this tiny voice in the back of my mind telling me that I just did the worst thing in the world and there’s no turning back; there’s no redemption at this point!
I always thought of food and the act of eating as a chore; it had to be done if I wanted to stay alive. There were times that I would get nauseous just by thinking of food; it would feel like the juices in my stomach would make their way to my throat.
I knew that my relationship with food was distorted; I knew there was something wrong but couldn’t tell exactly what it was. At first, I thought I was completely normal and that everyone should be “mindful” of what they eat and drink.
The realization slowly hit me when I started abstaining from going out because I didn’t want other people to see my obsession. I didn’t want anyone to ask me “why are you not eating with us?” or “why don’t you try out this food?” I didn’t want to have to explain to them why my face looked yellow with disgust and I didn’t want them to think I was a freak.
The realization hit me like a wrecking ball: Feeling disgusted with food indicates that I have an eating disorder. I knew I had to change my relationship with food before I started suffering from serious health consequences.
1- Consider Your History With Food
In order to recover your relationship with food, you need to know why you feel the way you do and where it originally came from; you have to start at some point! To help you brainstorm, consider the following questions:
- Can you pinpoint when did all this start?
- Did an event happen to make you feel this way?
- Did you have many people commenting on your weight while growing up?
- Did you experience the sickness of a closed family member?
For me, it all started when my grandmother got really sick; she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctors said that genes play an important role, but the lifestyle you lead also has a major contribution.
I knew that I could NOT control the genes, but I really believed that I could control what I feed my body. And yes, the obsession began. At first, I started out by consuming healthier foods, and then it developed into feeling disgusted with everything I eat.
2- Know Your Triggers
Start writing down the times you feel especially disgusted after eating. When does it mostly happen?
Does it happen when you’re feeling down? Does it happen when you’re frustrated and mad? Are you doing it to run away from something? Does it happen after eating a specific kind of food?
Journal your eating habits; write down what you eat, when you eat, and how you feel before and after eating. It will help you in cutting out specific foods that increase the likelihood of this negative feeling. Moreover, it will help you in acting differently when an emotional trigger hits you.
I found out that caffeine was one of my biggest triggers! It’s a sad story, but it’s true: Caffeine increases anxiety and stress hormones levels.
I’m a coffee lover and it meant that I had to significantly reduce the amount of coffee I have in the day. I’m now committed to drinking only one cup of coffee per day.
Another trigger for me was finding out about other people who got sick; it reminded me of my experience and it increased my feelings of disgust and it always made me feel like the world is ending!
3- Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is the act of being present during the eating process. Try to feel the sensation that comes along with chewing your food.
Smell the exotic aroma of the herbs. Activate your taste buds with your food texture, chew your food slowly, and truly enjoy your food.
Mindful eating means that you have to put your phone down till your plate is finished. It means that you have to turn off the TV and any kind of distraction.
It will help you in realizing your body cues and telling when you’re feeling full. This will greatly help you in decreasing the amount of disgust you feel after eating! Sometimes we feel disgusted by food because we just ate way beyond our bodily limits.
Mindful eating begins with your shopping list. Mindful eating is when you make your food and enjoy the process of cooking it.
4- Get Professional Help
There is absolutely no shame in getting professional help, especially when you feel like you need it. If your eating habits are starting to affect your everyday life; if it feels like it’s holding you back from living your life; if your health is starting to suffer, there’s nothing wrong with getting help. Getting professional might even help in saving your life; you never know the serious consequences of bad eating habits until your health starts deteriorating.
You will be getting the needed help from professionals who know exactly what they’re doing. A professional would help you in developing better eating habits and cognitively change your relationship with food.