Recovery is Possible!

The Food and Body Image Rollercoaster: Riding Chaos and Rigidity

When it comes to food and body image, many people can go to extremes in an attempt to deal with the array of challenging emotions (which makes you feel physically heavier – this is a fact!). Stress (sympathetic nervous system dominance), scientifically can increase** your appetite. You don’t have to have a diagnosable eating disorder to experience this! The goal is not to control your appetite (your body is doing what it is supposed to), but to manage and cope with the stress…that is the source many times.


The two extremes are…CHAOS and RIGIDITY. The goal is to recognize when you are headed into an extreme, offer yourself grace, and work on coming back to neutral/balance towards food and your body image. 




This is where you tend to go into “whatever mode” and react to triggers and emotions. Perhaps, you overeat continually OR even binge (ravenous/can’t stop) OR give in to whatever overwhelming urge you have, making you feel so much worse about food and body image.


One particular strategy for you to come back to neutral/balance is to create some structure and regular rhythm without condemning expectations. Read that again! This STARTS in the morning: wake up at a specific time before 9am, have a morning self-care ritual, and eat a balanced healthy breakfast.


Extra tip: Ask, “How can I add more nutrient-dense foods each day?” 



This is where you go into “must control this mode” and attempt to restrict and set high-achieving goals to feel better. Perhaps, you take on an elimination diet (restricting certain foods) without a health/medical need to do so OR count calories meticulously OR over-exercise. Side note: the challenge with falling into The Rigidity Camp is that our society praises these attempts; however, anything taken to an extreme is NOT healthy!!


One very specific strategy for you to come back to neutral/balance is to remove rules and unsustainable goals. Read that again! This STARTS with catching the thought that begins with “I should….” and then reminding yourself that rules and restrictions can cause a self-imposed prison of false security seeking impossible perfection.


Extra tip: Ask, “How can I add some pleasure each day? MANY people bounce between CHAOS and RIGIDITY. Going back and forth between “whatever” to “need control.” This is because the ability to trust oneself to have balance and withstand uncomfortable emotions is never fully embraced. There is a constant judgment of self.


Wherever you find yourself today on the food and body image rollercoaster…


  • Acknowledge how you feel emotionally
  • Be aware of the transference to your physical body
  • Identify and be mindful of how this impacts your behavioral urges with food and activity levels
  • Then determine how you can come back to neutral


The idea is not to get rid of negative emotions but to become aware of thoughts and triggers that create them. In turn, you can find healthier ways to ride the food and body image rollercoaster and come back to Earth. I know this was long…but I hope it touches those who need it!


**For a smaller percentage of people stress can actually decrease appetite, which means there must be a deliberate attempt to nourish the body with food despite a lack of hunger cues.


With Love & Light,

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