Can Attachment-Based Therapy Help You Overcome Emotional Eating?

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Can Attachment-Based Therapy Help You Overcome Emotional Eating

Growing cases of obesity and weight related problems have sparked concern among medical practitioners. Emotional eating ranks among the leading causes of obesity and remains a challenge for many people. 

If you are new to emotional eating, it is an eating pattern where you resort to food to help you cope with difficult emotions and stressful situations. Most people have experienced emotional eating at some point. 

Whether you reach for a bag of chips due to boredom or you bring a bar of chocolate to work so it can help you deal with a difficult day. While it is normal to experience this every once in a while, it becomes a problem if you choose emotional eating as your main coping mechanism. 

Dealing with such a peculiar disorder remains a challenge for many people. Research has suggested that attachment based therapy can help solve this problem. Read on as we explore how attachment-based therapy can help you overcome emotional eating.

What is Attachment-Based Therapy?

Attachment based therapy is a form of counseling mostly used to treat anxiety, mood disorders, relationship problems, and unresolved childhood trauma. Attachment-based therapy focuses on helping patients resolve attachment wounds and traumas from their past.

According to psychologists, the problems are often the cause of relationship problems and other psychological issues.

It draws its basis from the attachment theory which places emphasis on the role of early interactions of a child and their adult caregivers. Trauma is linked to poor attachment styles which cause teens to turn to alcohol and drugs or unhealthy eating habits to cope with these issues. Due to this, most adolescents will show signs of mental health and drug use disorders when most of the problems are as a result of unhealthy childhood attachments.

The Link between Attachment Theory and Eating Disorders

Medical professionals have treated eating disorders as a lifestyle choice. On the contrary, eating disorders are a serious mental illness that triggers your mind to alter what you see in the mirror and create an unhealthy attachment to food as a coping mechanism for the negative feelings. They are often obsessive, emotionally painful, and isolating.

Studies show that an average of 70 to 100 percent of patients with an eating disorder exhibit insecure attachment styles. The same study indicates that you are more predisposed to an eating disorder if you have insecure attachment. It is a risk factor for the signs of an eating disorder even before a patient develops the symptoms. 

The signs may range from extreme cautiousness about weight, concerns about body shape, restricted eating, and binge eating.

As such, it is safe to say that eating disorders are simply an outward depiction of the underlying emotional issues, of which stem from insecure attachment styles.

How Can Attachment-Based Therapy Help?

First, attachment-based therapy can help understand the connection between emotions and eating. Through this treatment, you can understand how your childhood relationships with caregivers have influenced your emotional responses; including eating as means of coping with stress. Understanding the insecure attachment as the root cause helps you understand your behavior better and learn about alternative coping mechanisms. 

A therapist will help you explore your past relationships and create a connection between them and your relationship with food. This knowledge can help you break the cycle of emotional eating and introduce you to healthy coping mechanisms.

Additionally, attachment-based therapy helps you establish secure emotional connections. Your therapist mirrors the process of creating secure emotional relationships in early childhood. They provide a safe and supportive environment that allows you to express your emotions, anxieties, and fears without fear. 

Establishing secure attachments and emotional connections allows you to develop healthier coping mechanisms and emotional regulation techniques. You learn to process emotions in a more constructive and healthy manner, reducing the urge to turn to food as a source of comfort.

Perhaps the biggest way attachment-based therapy helps deal with emotional eating is by exploring mindful eating practices. It encourages you to be present and attentive during meals. You focus entirely on the sensory experience associated with eating to savor the taste, smell, and texture making it easier to tune into your hunger and fullness cues.

Most people dealing with emotional eating feel insecure about some aspects of their body. Attachment-based therapy can help you overcome this by cultivating resilience and self-love. 

You learn to be kinder and more understanding toward yourself when going through tough times. You are less likely to turn to food for comfort and validation. You can deal with the emotions and challenges with resilience and self-care to promote your own emotional wellbeing. This helps break the cycle of emotional eating and establish a positive relationship between yourself and food.

Unlike other treatments for emotional eating, attachment-based therapy adapts a holistic and effective treatment approach by addressing the root causes. It also provides strategies that can help you cultivate healthy coping mechanisms. If you are dealing with emotional eating, attachment-based therapy is an option worth exploring as you look for healing and growth.

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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