Do You Have Trauma Affecting Your Eating & Weight?

Updated: Jul 17

Yesterday I took a free online Racialized Trauma E-Course through the Cultural Somatics Institute. 

It offered insight into both black and white body traumas, as well as how trauma can contribute to mental health symptoms and unhealthy coping behaviors such as eating and drinking to self-regulate and self soothe.

I encourage you to complete the course if you have an hour to spare for your own education. However, if you can’t then I’ll share some valuable insights with you in this text.

Understanding trauma and how it is potentially affecting you is important for women of any race who struggle with eating, weight and body issues and other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Let me explain…

When you experience danger (or perceive danger) the body will respond by either going into fight, flight or freeze mo

de. Your amygdala (your brain’s alarm system) will initiate this response and activate your nervous system. Once the perceived danger has passed, your body is meant to complete the protective reaction by settling back down.

The challenge is that many often don’t fully complete the threat response cycle.

The result is that you can get STUCK in FREEZE or ACTIVATION mode and the emotional energy attached to that experience and phase becomes stuck in your body. Over time this emotional energy becomes decontextualized and internalized,presenting as personality, mental illness or behavioral issues(i.e. eating, drinking).

The majority of the women I work with who struggle with food cravings, overeating and weight issues almost always have past trauma that is unresolved in the body.

This means...

  • the brain and body are stuck in a state of continually perceiving danger in the present moment, even if the conscious mind is not aware of it. 

  • the stuck emotional energies from past traumas contributes to an internal feeling of great discomfort which can lead one to eat to self sooth.

  • Weight can become a physical barrier designed to protect the female body (vital organs, bones, etc.) from harm.

Trauma can occur from a variety of experiences, not all of which are obvious. Yes, sexual assault, violence, hate crimes, gruesome injuries, etc. can clearly be traumatic to witness or experience.

AND what’s important to note is that small moments that occur frequently can also add up to affect one similarly, such as bullying, constant criticism, high stress, perceived abandonment/neglect, etc.

Just because these experiences happened in the past does not mean that they are not affecting you in the PRESENT.  Many women I work with have never made the connection between how those past experience are connected to their eating habits.

I commonly see that as one heals and resolves these traumas and effectively processes and releases the stuck emotional energy that was contributing to their symptoms and behaviors, that ones eating habits positively shift

I personally experienced this to be true for myself.It wasn’t until I worked through my deeply repressed and painful childhood sexual trauma that I finally achieved freedom from my eating disorder and experienced inner peace and food freedom.

Is this the only path to experience the health and happiness you desire? No, not necessarily. But if you are finding that no matter what you try you continue to struggle and you have NOT worked on healing your trauma then this may be an important area to focus on moving forward.

I also commonly encounter adult women who don’t think they’ve experienced trauma in the past, yet they continue to struggle with their weight and emotional eating.  

Sometimes things happen to us that at the time seem normal and we don’t necessarily register the impact of these experiences as traumatic. This is whyI find it is helpful to work with a professional who can look at things from a neutral lens and better detect what experiences from one’s past may still be influencing their present thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

When it comes to “healing” from trauma, because it can present as STUCK ENERGYin the body, cognitive work alone may not be enough to enable that energy to get “unstuck”. This is why I believe techniques such as Emotional Freedom Technique and other energy healing modalities can be so effective because they incorporate the body’s energy systems to actually move and release energetic blockages.

The other part of the Racialized Trauma course that was really interesting was the idea that individuals can also experience COLLECTIVE and/or INHERITED racial trauma (this applies to blacks and whites, and I'm sure any other race). This adds a entirely new lens through which to view one’s own mental and emotional well-being.

Plenty of food for thought!

Given all of this, I invite you to stay OPEN.

Open to learn.

Open to ponder.

Open to listen.

Open to question.

And open to approach your healing and wellness journey in new ways.

If you'd like to learn or experience Emotional Freedom Technique (a.k.a. tapping) for yourself, you can register to join my next free online tapping group.

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©2016 by Sarah Speers