About 4 years ago, I came across an analysis of 57,000 women and found that those who had experienced physical or sexual abuse as children were twice as likely to behave compensatory behaviour with food. These women said that they felt more physically imposing when they were bigger. They felt their size helped ward off sexual advances from men.
That’s how food and trauma are often linked. It’s not only in the context of sexual violence but also in various forms of trauma where food is often used as safety, comfort, avoidance of pain, numbing of suffering, buffering, etc.
And then body-shaming gets layered in this already very difficult emotional situation. In fact, I believe and experience that fatphobia, from an external source or internalized, is trauma itself.
Sexual violence And Intuitive Eating
This is when many people will begin the cycle of binge-restrict. Overeating food in an attempt to create safety, then feeling the shame of fatphobia, then use food once again but this time in a restrictive way with the hope to shrink their body. If this is you, I feel you, sister, because I was there for 25 years.
Here’s where it gets interesting… we can actually find our way out of the trauma response cycle by using food. I know it may appear counterintuitive, but it works. The process of learning an intuitive eating framework helps women nurture safety with food and their body. It’s a beautiful healing process to be watched unfold.
In today’s new Going Beyond The Food Podcast, I have a powerful teaching conversation with Sarah Berneche, a trauma-informed nutritionist. She uses intuitive eating to help survivors of sexual violence stop diet-binge cycling and reclaim the joy of eating.
Sarah Berneche is a somatic-oriented, weight-inclusive Nutritionist®, a Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor and author of Enjoy It All: Improve Your Health and Happiness with Intuitive Eating. Fusing Intuitive Eating with evidence-based therapy models, she helps survivors of sexual violence stop diet-binge cycling and reclaim the joy of eating.
What you’ll learn listening to this episode:
- The connection between sexual violence and disordered eating
- Self-objectification and dieting
- Food and body as symbolic communicators
- How dieting reinforces rape culture
- A trauma-informed approach to working with sexual trauma survivors
I believe that any woman should listen to this episode as it will help you help other women, if not today, in the future.
Knowledge is power sister.