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Eating Disorders and Childhood Trauma

By: Alison Ross, LMFT, CEDS

Eating disorders appear to revolve around a fear of food and weight gain, or an uncontrollable pattern of overeating, or a cycle that involves both. But, these behaviors are merely the tip of the iceberg. What's below the surface is often childhood trauma.

Many people who struggle with eating disorders have experienced significant adversities in their childhood homes or early social environments, leading to self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness.

The influence of diet culture can further exacerbate these shame feelings, leading to coping mechanisms such as food restriction in an attempt to conform to societal body ideals. Or, patterns of using food to soothe emotional pain. And more commonly, cycles that involve both. The trauma of believing that you're not good enough often what triggers and perpetuates eating disorders.

That's why at Non-Dieting Health, we offer a trauma-informed approach to treatment that extends beyond talk therapy. One that acknowledges the impact of childhood trauma on the nervous system, which locks into a state of chronic stress. We provide a unique approach that not only shifts shame-based mindsets but also treats the nervous system, liberating it from stress and reinstating a feeling of safety for individuals who lacked that sense of security during their developing years.

If you'd like to learn more about our unique form of eating therapy, check us out at


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