Selective Eating Disorder – Fear of Food
Do you struggle with Selective Eating Disorder?
Selective Eating Disorder will mean that you have a very restrictive diet, relying on the same food and unwilling or unable to try new foods. It can mean fear, stress and frustration at meal times and create problems around things others seem to find so easy, like ordering off the menu at a restaurant or going to someone else’s place for food.
And whilst many youngsters go through a period of selective eating, if you are struggling into your teens and beyond then it can have implications for your current and future health as well as creating feelings of anxiety, depression and unhappiness.
So how can you overcome your selective eating disorder and fear of food?
The Problem of Selective Eating
I’ve helped many people, of all ages, to overcome their selective eating and what they often refer to their fear of food – or more specifically, fear of new foods.
You will already have your existing range of foods that you feel safe and comfortable eating. You may be bored of eating the same limited range of foods or maybe you have started to become concerned over the impact on your health. Or it could be you are so fed up of struggling around meals or when eating out that you have decided that now is the time to get this sorted.
When I help people with selective eating disorder, they often tell me how they physically can’t try or swallow new foods. I’ve helped people who want to change yet until we work together either they physically can’t put the food in their mouth or if they do they chew it over and over without being able to swallow it and so need to spit it back out.
Around new foods their will be a ‘block’ of fear – that tension, worry and fear that can become overwhelming. There may be fears around choking, issues around food smells and textures and some people even tell me that if they are able to swallow a new food, their stomach starts to ache afterwards.
Often other people won’t understand that level of fear you struggle with and may refer to you as a fussy eater, which can increase feelings of stress and frustration.
So how can you overcome those concerns and fears around eating and food so you can start to enjoy a wider range of foods calmly and comfortably?
4 Steps To Dissolve Selective Eating Disorder
Follow these initial four steps to start diminishing your selective eating, fear and worry about trying new foods:
1) Plan For Success
Which new foods would you like to start eating? Which do you think (ignoring your worries and fears) would probably be the easiest?
Rather than divide foods into two categories – foods I eat and new foods, start to get more specific. Draw up a list of the foods you currently eat easily. Make a list of those you think would likely be the simplest to try (perhaps those most similar to those you already eat) and you can also have a list of things that you think would be more difficult.
In the same way someone with a fear of driving wouldn’t dive straight in the car and do a few laps of the M25, you don’t need to dive straight in to the deep end. As you put the other steps below into place, you can take small steps to comfortably taste and try new foods from your list.
2) Build on What Works
Usually if you have selective eating problems, you can eat familiar foods calmly and without much thought. Yet with new foods you will feel tense and become aware of the thoughts and uncomfortable sensations you experience.
We know you can eat some foods easily already so start to notice how you do what is already working. When you eat those foods, how do you sit, what is your breathing like, what are you thinking or saying to yourself and how do you say it? What do you pay attention to? – and so on.
Start to notice what works so you can replicate these things by doing exactly the same around new foods. And the next step will make this even easier to do successfully.
3) Use the power of your mind
Selective eating disorder keeps itself going on and on by maintaining the association of fear, stress and discomfort with the thoughts of new foods. Every time that fear wins and you can’t eat or swallow something, the link gets stronger. And being unable to eat them unconsciously confirms to your mind that they are something to avoid.
So you have to use how your mind works to send it in a new direction.
Take some time to feel calm and relaxed (either relax your breathing or use my free rapid relaxation audio). While relaxed imagine watching yourself calmly and comfortably eating foods. Using what you noted above, watch yourself looking calm, relaxed and comfortable while eating familiar foods. When you have this in your mind, see yourself trying a new food and acting and reacting in the same way. Focus on how calm and relaxed you appear while trying it. Repeat this step several times and over several days to re-programme your mind to feel calm and relaxed around new foods.
4) Consistency is Key
As you follow the above steps, start to be curious about what other foods may taste like. Remember you may or may not like them when you try them so just wonder what they may taste like. As you continue to relax and imagine things going well, you can start to try something new. You may have a tiny bit and notice you felt ok, you may have a spoonful of something someone else is having. Take small steps and do it consistently.
Help To End Fear Around Food
I’d love to know how you get on implementing the above steps so please do let me know.
And if I can help in anyway then get in touch and come for you complimentary initial consultation so we can explore how to help you make selective eating a thing of the past.
To your success,
Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket
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