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Compulsive Eating

Compulsive Eating and Relationship Conflict

The Missing Nutrient is NOT in the Food

By Tory Butterworth, Ph.D.

Overeating is a mystery for most compulsive overeaters. They don’t know where it comes from, how it invades their lives, or how to get rid of it.

compulsive eatingI often tell compulsive overeaters they are missing a key nutrient, and they eat to try to fulfill their need for that nutrient. What they don’t understand is the nutrient is not something in food. It is something they don’t get from the interpersonal relationships in their lives, something food can never give them.

Healing happens when compulsive overeaters are able to identify the missing nutrient and learn how to supply it through their relationships.

Conflict is a part of any relationship, caused by two different people with different feelings, needs, and desires trying to come together. There are healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with conflict in relationships. Often, compulsive overeaters don’t know how to deal with conflict in healthy ways and so they avoid it, at a cost to their relationships and themselves.

One way some compulsive overeaters avoid conflict is by adapting to another person, trying to be what that other person wants them to be rather than who they are. Some even go so far as to pretend away the conflict. They “merge” with others, focusing only on the ways they are similar to them without looking at the ways they are separate and distinct. They can lose their independence in this process.

Another way of avoiding conflict is by taking care of another person. Many compulsive overeaters are so focused on the needs of others that they become oblivious to what they need for themselves.

Some compulsive overeaters deal with conflict by isolating themselves from relationships and focusing on eating, instead. Food, in our society, is dependable, predictable, and always there. It does not disappoint. Compulsive overeaters can become more attached to food than the people around them.

What are some ways to begin dealing with conflict in relationships?

  1. Recognize that conflict is inevitable and not all bad. Conflict can be a great catalyst for clarifying who we are and what we want, as well as moving relationships forward in a positive direction.
  2. Focus on what you want at the end of a conflict, keeping your eyes on the prize. Rather than replaying your disagreements or what annoys you about the other person, think about what you’d like your interactions to look like and what you want out of a relationship.
  3. Begin conversations with, “I” statements, talking about yourself rather than the other person. After all, we are only making guesses about what another person is thinking or what motivates them. Start by telling them where you are coming from and what you’d like your relationship with them to look like, then give them an opportunity to tell their side of the story.

By using conflicts as opportunities for communication, conflict can become a vitalizing force in relationships rather than tearing them apart. Then, relationships can begin to supply the vital nutrients that are missing from compulsive overeaters’ lives.

compulsive eating group - new directionsSTOP EATING Group OPEN to NEW Members
Tory Butterworth will be opening her STOP Eating Your Feelings group to new members starting September 15th. The group meets two Saturdays a month from 10 to 11:30 am.
Participants will be asked to make a 4-month commitment when joining the group.
Only Three Spots Available!

Please contact us if interested in the group by:
Emailing: info@newdirectionspgh.com
Calling: 724-934-3905