Today I am writing a Trigger Tuesday about food policing. Food policing is when a loved on oversteps their boundaries on what the sufferer is putting in their bodies. It can sound something like “Did you eat your lunch today at school?” or “How much did you eat today?” or “I think you need a bigger portion than that.” It can even go as far as the loved fixing them their plate or buying them extra food that they do not wish to eat.
For some sufferers doing Family-based therapy, this is necessary in treatment. In this type of treatment, the parents or guardians are under the instruction of a therapist and nutritionist on what is appropriate to be feeding their child.
It s important to note that the family member doing the food policing is doing it out of love and concern for their loved one. But it is also important to note that it does not help. The sufferer will usually shut down, get defensive or do the opposite of whatever they are told to do by that person.
Throughout my treatment, my parents were advised on the proper ways to handle situations where I may be engaging in behaviors. These ways included: ask how I am feeling and what is going on in my mind right now. This reduces the focus on the food and the sufferer is more likely to open up. Next was to tell me that I should probably eat, have a bigger portion etc. once. ONLY once. From their I can choose to listen or not. While this can be scary for the loved one who wishes they could just do it for them, it is necessary to not overwhelm them with your own anxieties. The last thing that they shared with my parents was to remind the sufferer of their motivation for getting better.
These are just ideas, you are not limited to them. If you are a loved one, maybe ask the sufferer what they would like you to do when they are having urges to act on behaviors. I even asked my mom to lead me in a meditation when I was dealing with intense anxiety. And I am thankful she listened and did it.
The most important thing to do even though it is hard, is for the loved one to put their own feelings and anxieties aside and listen to the sufferer. Just listen. Sometimes that’s all they need