– Courtesy of Michal Grosicki – http://www.unsplash.com
Dare to Create – nutrition and how eating disorders might stem from abuse
Hello readers, and welcome to another Dare to Create article from #ProjectLifeQuality. Your creative corner, where we discuss our topic of the week and you are provided with a suggestion to take away with you.
This will be something designed to encourage, and motivate you to explore your thoughts through the use of the arts. This month we’re exploring ways of taking those first steps away from an abusive environment and discussing nutrition.
Before this week’s let’s take a look at today’s creative prompt. I know how much you look forward to this, so here it is.
Dare to Create – the challenge
Nutrition and abuse can affect our body image. Consider your relationship with eating and write a message on a part of your body, then photograph and share it with us.
Image bottom left @NorWood – http://www.unsplash.com
PLQ would love to see your artwork and messages, so don’t forget to tag us.
– Miriam aged 8
The content of the following discussion
may be distressing to some readers.
Balanced nutrition is fundamental to clear thinking, healthy growth, and reducing the risks of obesity-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. But there could be many dietry challenges for a person experiencing abuse.
- Food and drink may be restricted.
- They may only have access to dry foods they can store, such as crisps and cereal bars.
- They may only be able to eat when the perpetrator of abuse is asleep.
- They could also develop an eating disorder as a result of incidents or the risks of being in a kitchen with boiling water and knives. Bulimia and anorexia nervosa, for example.
The following was written by survivor.
Mind Charity UK – “I haven’t been formally diagnosed with an eating disorder, but the professionals who are supporting me in my recovery from childhood abuse and domestic abuse have used the term ‘eating disorder’ more frequently over the last few weeks. I told them they were wrong. They told me denial was part of the illness. I told them I wasn’t ill. I found every reason why they were wrong, that I was in control. One said “but it’s not in control.” I shrugged off their comment as wrong. They couldn’t know how I was feeling. I felt in control, and to me that meant I was in control. I’m beginning to realise that feeling in control and actually being in control can be two very different things.”
“I was abused as a child, and in an abusive relationship last year. I want to explain how being a victim of abuse has been the cause of my current eating disorder. I hope that by explaining, people will realise how things link together, and not only understand more about eating disorders, but also more about the impact of abuse itself.”
Mind Charity, UK – “Trying to carry that such a big secret and live life normally is exhausting and crushing. At times it felt close to impossible. It also meant my reality became secret, which meant my own reality was being undermined and invalidated. The reality I put on as a show wasn’t the real story, and so the act of carrying such a secret meant I was living a lie. Living such a lie gradually broke me.
This level of trying to manage living with such horrendous secrecy and a double-life seems to have manifested itself, to a degree, in my eating. On the one hand I so desperately want to lose weight, and on the other hand I try to cover it all up with layers and deny to anyone that there’s a problem. The illness is a secretive illness. The damage, again, from living in such a secretive double-life is extensive, and it fuels the eating disorder. In short, it’s a massively vicious cycle.”
– Miriam aged 8
Mind Charity, UK – “Living such a double-life between trying to be a normal student/child/teenager whilst being abused in secret has made my life frequently feel far beyond my control. Eating felt and feels like the only thing completely in my control, that nobody else can take away from me. Every hunger pang I get, every wave of dizziness or heart palpitation, or every time I throw up…these make me feel in control. I get a kick each time. I feel relief each time. Sometimes if I’ve had a horrendous day and I then feel dizzy, I actually cry with relief. Why? Because I feel like I am therefore in control. Maybe that sounds crazy. I don’t like the feeling of stomach pain or dizziness. I don’t like it at all. But I like what it means; to me it means I’m in control, and that feeling is addictive when for so long my life has been beyond my control.
And ultimately, if the only time you’re called ‘good’ is when you’re submissive and let people use your body, then where else was my self-worth and sense of body image going to go? I hear their cruel words when I feel I’ve put weight on or when I eat. The memories haunt me and frighten me.”
Useful nutritional tips
If you are experiencing an eating disorder, specialist support is required. However, if you can eat but experience anxiety, stress or depression, take a look at these links below. Did you know that some foods are scientifically known to reduce these symptoms?
Anxiety Treatment: The Best 7 Anti Anxiety Foods.
Eat to beat stress: 10 foods that reduce anxiety – The next time you feel overwhelmed, eat your way calm by putting these superfoods on your plate.
Brain food: What you eat could help manage depression and anxiety.
Finally a remarkable art project that came from personal experiences of abuse.
Thank you for sharing with us Miriam.
Be the person you want to be!
PLQ Creative Coach and Journalist