Dr. Gregory Jantz

Seeking Relief from Trauma Through Food

December 16, 2019

All trauma causes us to seek relief.  The question is how will you seek that relief?  People do things for one of two reasons: because they relieve tension or achieve goals.  

If you release tension through food because it feels good, is easy to do, and demands no thought on your part, then that decision will make you unhappier and more prone to blame others for your problems.  If, however, you live your life with a sense of seeking goals, then you shift your focus to a brighter, more confident future.  

Let’s take a look at some of the abuse you may have experienced, and how current symptoms may be linked to past abuse.  

  • You may feel a constant undercurrent of anxiety or depression, even fearing the reoccurrence of a past abusive event.  This may also result in mood swings and sleep problems. If you were hurt by your father, you may develop a fear of men and in adult life may invent coping mechanisms that prevent intimacy with the opposite sex.  
  • Present-day events may remind you of past trauma and thereby produce emotional distress.  
  • Flashbacks are painful events.  When they occur, you may use unhealthy means, such as bingeing, to numb the pain and prevent recurrence of the flashbacks.  
  • You may have difficulty with intimacy.  If a family member or trusted adult abused you, trust is now very challenging.  This results in a sense of detachment and estrangement from others.  

This is not an attempt to dredge up or create false memories.  You need to look at and acknowledge that what you remember could be inaccurate and that it is normal to have incomplete memories, particularly of the first seven years of life.  Later memories of childhood may be blurred or fragmented also.  

Try to determine the difference between what really happened and what may have been a childhood appraisal of an event.  For most compulsive overeaters, there was some form of deep trauma. But there are also interpretations of events that may make more innocent occurrences seem traumatic.  

Your thinking is different now from what it was during childhood.  You may have confused emotions with facts. As a child, the difference between your imagination and reality was blurred.  That’s why I am not suggesting abuse that wasn’t present, but I also want to say that whatever happened did affect you.  

At times, you may have questioned your sanity, asking why you cannot cope with life.  Wouldn’t it be exciting to discover that you were simply responding automatically to past programming and that now you no longer need to do that?  No, you are free. You have learned the truth about yourself, and it has liberated you forever.  

Give yourself permission to be the executive director of your life.  You can learn to forgive and free yourself from the bondage of past hurts.  You can release the toxins of the past and replace them with the power and strength of your newfound freedom. 

Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a top ten facility for the treatment of depression in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s and is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 37 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.