Sports & Recreation


Healthy Relationships with Food

By Marianne Bennett, BSN, RN
Au-Authm Action News

No longer alone, no longer lost, I have truly been blessed with a power to love and guide me, Twelve Steps to lead me, and friends who will remind me this too shall pass.

During the recent holidays, many of us ate so much that we felt absolutely stuffed. For some of us, eating beyond the feeling of full is not a rare occurrence. We find different reasons for overeating. It may start as mindless snacking while watching television and progress to eating because we feel depressed, lonely, or frustrated. How did you feel after overeating -- simply annoyed that you gave yourself a stomachache? Or were you tormented by guilt or shame?

At some point, many of us come to realize that our eating is out of control and our relationship with food is unhealthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We think about food all the time and feel guilty, ashamed, or depressed after eating. For many people, compulsive overeating is an “eat, repent, repeat” cycle. We “diet” because we feel bad about our weight or size but find that it’s too hard to stick to -- especially if we use food as a coping tool. We eventually hit a breaking point and give up only to repeat the guilt and shame cycle again.

This unhealthy relationship can be hard to break because we have to eat to live and eating can stimulate the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain. Deep-rooted emotional problems drive unhealthy relationships with food which make overeating hard to stop. Talking with others facing the same challenges can be a beneficial way of dealing with overeating and compulsive eating issues.

According to the, support groups help by connecting people who are dealing with the same types of issues into groups where they can share experiences and encouragement. A support group can help participants cope better and feel less isolated about our struggles with food.

A twelve-step eating addiction support group is not just about weight loss or diets. Within the twelve-step support group, participants find help as they progress toward physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. A twelve-step support group traditionally opens with prayer but is not a religious organization and does not promote any particular diet. Participants have many different backgrounds and reasons for needing support, but all participants are united by the common disease of unhealthy relationships with food.

The typical twelve-step support group is seated in a circle which encourages dialogue, respect, learning, and social discourse while providing a rich sense of interconnectedness as everyone has their turn to speak. Members of a support group typically share their personal experiences and offer one another emotional comfort and moral support. They may also offer practical advice and tips to help you cope with your situation. The twelve-step circle does not allow interrupting of others or cross-talk (telling someone how they should handle their problem), but it does allow sharing of challenges, struggles, and strengths to the extent that the participant is comfortable. No one is required to talk or share if they are not ready. Facilitators ensure that the group is a safe place for everyone.

Our twelve-step support group welcomes everyone living or working in the Community who wants to work toward a healthier relationship with food. We meet Tuesday evenings 5:30 to 6:30 in the WIC building. Transportation is available. Adults and teens are welcome to attend. Call (480) 362-6619 for questions or to arrange transportation.

Childcare is not available for the twelve-step group, but there is a support group specifically for families youth. For information about the youth and family support group, call (480) 362-6640.

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