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Emotional roots of eating disorders



American experience an eating disorder according to statistics.

  • 9% of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime

  • 10,200 deaths each year are the direct result of an eating disorder, that’s one death every 52 minutes

  • About 26% of people with eating disorders attempt suicide

  • The economic cost of eating disorders is $64.7 billion every year

Wow, these are some shocking facts to reflect on!

Do you know anybody who battles with an eating disorder?


Research also shows that the most correlated mental condition is depression (makes sense) and the highest risk groups are teenagers, young adults especially athletes. First I was surprised by the athlete part.


But then one of my first client for Ayahuasca Assisted Therapy came from this exact background. Actually, she was a young Olympic athlete until an accident that changed her life .

I remember that she had a horrible relationship with food, she thought about it as poison. It explains why she couldn't keep it in her body. During her healing process she dealt with the early death and loss of her father, processed her sexual abuse and healed her relationship with her body and food. From her I learnt that her story was just a drop in the ocean, especially among athletes where eating disorder is a common behavior to cope with the constant pressure.


I believe that most eating disorders are emotionally based coping strategies, coming from childhood to soothe psychological and emotional pain. This means avoiding feeling certain emotions like shame, guilt, sadness, anger and loneliness.


The effect of childhood trauma


Most trauma occurs in childhood simply because children don’t have necessary tools and awareness to cope best with stressful situations. One common factor in people with eating disorders is some type of loss and abandonment in childhood. When this happens children often interpret the situation that it is their fault (guilt) and that there is something wrong with them (shame) thus they are not worthy of love or living. This translates on a physical level to rejecting nourishment and the inability to nurture and feed the physical body. Eating disorder, from this perspective can be understood as a type of self punishment and continuing repentance.


Social conditioning


The pursuit of a perfect body, the perfect look, the perfect weight according to the media of course is unattainable for most people. But what we are really looking for, what we are really hungry for is love, acceptance and emotional connection. Food is merely a poor substitute to meet our deeper needs.

The influence of the media

Unfortunately in the west the pursuit of physical perfection is fueled by the mainstream media. The insanity of one standard fits all and there is no room for diversity and discussion also contribute to destructive behavior and might manifest as an eating disorder.


The good news is, the trauma can be healed!


The loss and grief can be let go of, and the eating disorder can be transformed, rather than something to cope with, or control for the rest of your life.

You can heal the source of the pain. You can satisfy your hunger and you can change your behavior.


You can totally change your relationship with food and your body!

Emotional healing, self love, awareness and spiritual connection to something greater will lead to positive changes and ultimately to a new way of being. Feeling loved, nurtured and nourished.



7 powerful affirmation to practice self love and support your healing


1. I allow to love myself through this experience, I send love to my inner child

2. choose to know myself as the beautiful being who I truly am and honor myself as divine

3. I choose to love, nurture and care for myself deeply, I choose to listen to my body

4.. Imperfection is just a perception, I can change my mind

5. I desire to follow my heart and what feels good

6. Every day is a new possibility

7. I have trust and faith in myself

Where do we start?


First and foremost, we have to recognize that we are stuck and open up for guidance so we can heal ourselves. Willpower doesn’t work. But there are many, many ways to heal, to remember.


No matter how old you are, no matter how stuck you feel, healing is possible.


With all my love


Nina Izel



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