Conquering Fear Foods in Eating Disorder Treatment

Are you afraid of the dark?  Terrified of roller coasters?  Petrified by spiders?

How about: cheese, bread, or brownies?  Do any of those things send chills up and down your spine?

To the outsider, the idea of being fearful of foods may seem a bit dramatic and bizarre. FEAR FOODS are real and experienced by most patients that struggle with eating disorders of all types.  While the types of food and drink that elicits the anxiety in the patient may vary from fear of weight gain, too many carbohydrates, too much protein, high fat content, too high sugar, etc. At the root of the anxiety and avoidance surrounding the identified food is likely fear of loss of control.

Throughout the course of an eating disorder the patient manipulates their food intake to gain a sense of control in their seemingly chaotic lives.  This manipulation involves eliminating certain foods or even entire food groups from their diet; the eliminated food items become the FEAR FOOD(s).  The mere mention of adding one of these items to the patients’ grocery cart creates visible panic. However reincorporating the FEAR FOODS into the patients’ life is integral to the nutrition piece of eating disorder recovery.

Conquering FEAR FOODS can be very tricky and must be approached only when the patient is ready to give themselves permission to reintroduce the identified foods.  As a dietitian it is important to emphasize the freedom that comes from making peace with your FEAR FOODS.   Reminding the patient that feeling out of control and frightened is very normal and part of the process: it will get better.   Overcoming FEAR FOODS is one of the most powerful experiences for patients throughout the recovery process. It reminds them that food is simply a mixture of macro and micronutrients meant to nourish our bodies and be enjoyed; not a powerful daemon that lurks in the dark corner of our closet.

If you are experiencing anxiety about food, please contact us for more information on our eating disorder treatment programs at 877-899-7254.