An area I still struggle with are feelings of guilt if people see me eat, get food or see me resting.
At times I still wait to hear that family have vacated the kitchen before scurrying in to grab my food and eat in private.
I know this is another common eating disorder trait, perhaps more ingrained in those of us who have been used to living alone, when any eating or sitting was always unobserved.
And although I’ve now been eating & resting more in front of my parents, it doesn’t always feel easier.
I also notice that this guilt is more intense with my family and if I am seen eating or resting in their presence.
If I am out eating and there are people around me, I do not feel guilty for eating…. I just think it is none of their business!
As I like to understand what might be the cause of these baffling yet common eating disorder symptoms, I’ve been thinking about what these strong feelings of guilt at being seen to be eating, getting myself food or resting are all about… when really the guilt should come from not eating & not resting!
Mulling it over, I believe it’s another behaviour and deeply ingrained animal response that results from the brain’s belief that we’re in a scarce environment & food is limited.
With eating disorder genetics, in times of famine, we were the ones who could survive on little food and keep hunting and we would be the one to hunt and feed the rest of the family.
Therefore, it would make sense that if we were sitting around feeding ourselves and resting, we might be denying our family of much needed nourishment and so it would be appropriate to have deep feelings of guilt to spur us into action.. send us back out hunting and not eat food that could feed others.
Sadly, in recovery, our starved brains take time to catch up to the fact that food isn’t scarce and feelings of guilt attached to eating and resting are inappropriate and actually now keep us very ill.
Of course, knowing all this won’t cure us but for me just finding a rationale to the madness can help to address it… and also reassure me it’s not just me being difficult -these are real, hard wired, survival responses we get… They are just a bit skewiff now!!