“Why do I dissociate when I eat?”

Written by Jenn Hand, Holistic Nutritionist, Board Certified Health Coach, NBC-HWC

When I used to compulsively binge eat, I felt a deep dissociation with my body.

It was like something took over my body and I couldn’t stop myself from overeating. This wasn’t every time I binged, but there were definitely times when the compulsion took hold of me. So why does this dissociation happen? 

The brain is an incredibly powerful organ with some pretty awe-inspiring abilities.

One of its superpowers is protection. The brain has the ability to separate from pain. (Could this be the reason so many people forget the pain of birthing a child?!) So when we feel something painful, the brain can “protect” us by separating itself from what’s happening. 

When we’re bingeing for grief, major stress, deep loneliness or any other intense emotion, our brain can separate from our actions, so that we seem powerless to stop ourselves. Most of my compulsive times–the times I felt like I was separate from my own actions when I ate– were when I was dealing with something “big” emotion wise. 

Overeating to the point of feeling sick or feeling like you’re out of control might indicate dissociation.

In times like this, food serves as a tool to numb, distract, or comfort us from emotional pain. This pattern often starts in childhood when food is the only coping mechanism. Frequent use strengthens emotional ties to food, making it harder to cope without it.

Although dissociation is well known in the field of pain and trauma, there isn’t a ton of research on exactly why we do this around food. There is a way to heal this compulsion and dissociation! I no longer binge eat and have helped hundreds of other women overcome this. (+)

Read More:

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About the Author: 

Jenn Hand has been helping women like you become normal eaters since 2015.

She’s worked with thousands of women, helping them to balance their bodies, end bingeing, stop obsessing over food, and start feeling amazing again.  As a board-certified health coach and holistic nutritionist, Jenn knows how to support you in making real positive changes that last.

Her articles have been published on Mind Body Green, Tiny Buddha, Thrive Global and other local and global media platforms. She’s the author of How to Be a Normal Eater and the creator of The Normal Eater’s Club program. Listen to Jenn’s advice and tips on the Cake Doesn’t Count Podcast, or read more of her articles for free on the Food Freedom Blog.

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