girl holding orange juice

People’s “food issues” are rarely just about food.

I’ve counseled hundreds of people who want to have better relationships with food so they’ll be able to have more control over their eating habits, whether that means learning how to stop eating when they’re full, quitting chronic dieting, letting go of self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors about food and weight, or learning how to eat more freely. The one thing I’ve consistently seen throughout those hours of sitting and speaking with people whose “food issues” run the gamut is that their behaviors, whatever they are, are rarely only about food or even eating. Sometimes their ideas about and relationships to food have developed in response to a trauma or a set of circumstances they didn’t have control over, which means their current struggle is rooted in something way deeper. This is why it’s not at all helpful (and is pretty mean) to say that people of size should “just stop eating so much” or that people who struggle with disordered eating should “just eat a sandwich.” Nothing could be more insulting than to oversimplify peoples’ situations in such a flippant way. (Not to mention how problematic it is to assume someone has “a problem” with food, eating, or their weight just because of the way their body looks.)