Our childhood and upbringing is often linked to developing eating disorders. For example, if your parents were particularly strict you may have begun to use food as a way of gaining more control over your life. Another example might be that you might have changed your eating patterns drastically because of intense feelings of sadness or frustration which might have come because one or both your parents were absent in your life. If your relatives spent a lot of their time dieting, over-eating or experiencing an eating problem, you might have also been greatly influenced. Eating problems can also begin because of self-esteem issues, feelings of worthlessness or feelings of powerlessness. Some of us are also affected by social and cultural pressures, even if we’re not always aware of it. This includes messages about our bodies and how we should look. Being exposed to this kind of social pressure can make you feel that you are not good enough and can have an impact on your own body image and your sense of self-worth. If you develop an eating problem, it’s likely that social pressure isn’t the only cause, but because there is so much cultural importance placed on appearance, you may find that your weight or how you look becomes the focus of bad feelings.

Claire is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on claire@willingness.com.mt.