Food fear is real, and it is a topic that is not discussed!
Food fear occurs when we are afraid to eat. We might fear eating for many reasons, and for some of my clients, I hear them say this too often. For example, today, I was doing a consultation with a prospective new client with multiple autoimmune diseases. The number one thing she said to me on our call was that she fears mealtimes and wishes she could take a supplement, so she never has to eat again because every time she eats, her autoimmunity is triggered, and she feels awful.
Additionally, I had a client earlier in the week that refused to add foods after a month on the autoimmune protocol. She said she feels so good that she does not want to add foods back into her diet. When I discussed my concerns about a long-term restrictive diet, she broke down in tears. She told me that she could no longer trust the food available to her because if she eats off the program, her symptoms come back.
Last week, I had a client come into care that had just done a food sensitivity test. When she got the results back, it determined that she is now reacting to the seven foods left in her diet that she thought were safe. She asked me, “What am I supposed to eat now?”
Lastly, I have been working with a young girl with an eating disorder, and she has finally found peace with her body and food. Still, she is terrified to add anything new to her diet as she thinks any new foods or foods outside what she has been eating will cause her to go back to her eating disorder. She knows that gluten and dairy are problems for her and her therapist has told her that restricting certain food groups is “eating disorder behavior.” She told me that if she must eat gluten and dairy, she will get sick and be labeled as non-compliant and put back into an in-patient treatment facility. She is also fearful and does not know what to do.
All these women are fearful of food, and this is a problem. What does this tell us about our current food supply? What does this tell us about the bombardment of dietary weight loss miracles that we see and hear daily from the media? Is it our food causing the problem, or is it what we are doing to our foods that is the problem? It is safe to say that our primary issue around food fear is a profound lack of understanding of food, the body, and what is healthy? Moreover, we destroy our food in the United States as an effort to make more money, the BIG FOOD industry is a billion-dollar industry, and we are all left to deal with the aftermath of glyphosate, genetically modified foods, and hormone and antibiotic ridden meats that we put on our table in the United States. And, to our young women, you are more than what the scale says, and you are so much more than the size of your jeans. Your value comes from who you are as a person, not how you look!
As a practitioner, it is my responsibility to help and guide these women! To the woman with autoimmunity, it is about determining what food(s) trigger your immune system so that you can remove those few foods instead of fearing all foods. This can be done, and you do not need to fear food. To the women with the food sensitivity test, do not let one test dictate what you will eat moving forward. In my experience, food sensitivity testing is a waste of money and only results in confusion and more food restriction. Do an elimination diet, focus on how you FEEL when you eat certain foods, and pull out the foods that you know cause symptoms. You, too, do not need to fear food. Lastly, to the sweet girl with an eating disorder, healing from an eating disorder is not about promoting weight gain. I will NEVER do that to you! Recovering from an eating disorder is about balance, eating healthy foods, learning what is healthy, promoting a healthy weight (whatever that is for your individual body), and working through the emotional aspect of food restriction and body image issues. If gluten and dairy make you feel sick, then do not eat them, and no, this is not eating disorder behavior; this is a true understanding of your body and what foods work well for you!
As a society, we need to start addressing these issues. We need to understand that food is not the enemy, but what we are doing to our food is of great concern. What we are teaching our children about body image is also of great concern, and we need to question any claims of miracle cures via food sensitivity testing and the “lose 20 pounds in a month claim!” Healing is an individual journey, and nobody’s path is the same!
Let’s start asking the hard questions about why so many of us have become fearful of our food!
Your Functional Nutritionist,
Jess Sorci, MNT