Trauma and Past Conditioning- It’s Not Your Fault
Like most folks, I have eaten to numb out difficult emotions—cookies, ice cream, chips, whatever. Been there, done that, and will likely do it again. We may casually eat to go numb because we don’t want to deal with everything going on in our lives and the world. We may feel helpless, paralyzed, and hopeless and that makes a lot of sense because life is challenging and difficult.
Many of us have also developed disordered eating patterns that have plagued us throughout our lives. And it is not our fault. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, there is a direct correlation between past trauma and eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder). And it is not our fault. Trauma is an event or a series of events that happened to us without our choice. It could be a one-time event like an accident or a series of events over time like racism, child abuse, poverty. Trauma can even be intergenerational and inherited. After all, trauma can change our DNA.
One of the most important things that I discovered through my own practice of mindfulness, mindful eating, and a good therapist is that my past conditioning and childhood trauma (my mother suffered from anorexia and bulimia) shaped my own relationship to food, eating, and my body.
Studying mindfulness, neuroscience, and mindful eating taught me how trauma affects our relationship to food, eating, and our bodies.
It was a gamer changer for me.
Mindful eating is so much more than deriving joy from eating (which it does!). Mindful eating techniques that are based in Buddhist meditation and mindfulness helps us:
- To feel safer in our bodies
- To learn to befriend and attend to difficult emotions
- To notice how emotions manifest in our bodies
- To practice taking a pause before reacting to difficult emotions through our usual coping mechanisms like binge eating that can trigger more anxiety.
- To notice the tendency to want to go unconscious and numb out through binge eating, binge drinking, binge watching, etc.
- To learn how to take better care of ourselves by shining the light of awareness on what is happening in our present moment experience with kindness and compassion.
- Mindful eating can help heal past trauma and encourage us to take better care of ourselves with kindness and compassion.