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OCD within Intuitive Eating


Written by my client: R.B.

OCD within Intuitive Eating

I could feel my brain. 


The ridges, the indents, and the neurons through their pathways; like bad music, every thought felt like an obvious, random beat- a startling nuisance.


I could fully relate to how my nephew describes a bad day at school: “My head is broken.” 


Even before I had the words to label what was happening to me as extreme anxiety and OCD, I knew there was something wrong with my thinking.

It just felt disordered, disorganized and disturbing. 


OCD manifests as a cycle: Obsessions- such as repetitive, intrusive thoughts; compulsions- actions to relieve the distress felt by obsessions; and a period of brief relief, before the obsessions come back, asking for compulsions to relieve the distress, which only provide respite for a short while, before the obsessions come back, begging for respite……. Ha!

Feeling loop-y?


Kidding aside, loss of control over the repetition in one’s mind during bouts of OCD is deeply distressing. Especially when the compulsions are mental. 


Unlike hand-washing or locked-door-checking, which are typical physical compulsions, mental compulsions are rituals of relief happening inside of our beautifully unbroken heads.

These can be repeating phrases mentally, counting, avoiding triggers, or internal checking. Lots and lots of checking. 


When I experienced my most intense period of OCD, I had already completed deep and meaningful work with Gila. But the work is never done.

My suffering in one mental and emotional area shed so much light on my struggle in another. 


In other words, one problem taught me I have another one! One I unofficially labeled Body Image OCD: The Cycle of Feeling Less Fat. Let’s break this down?


If you are reading this, you are mildly to moderately aware of the factors which contributed towards the attitudes you have about your body and its size.

Say diet culture, your childhood, your 7th grade biology teacher who banned carbs, and your overly critical, very perfectionistic grandmother. 


So you don’t want to be fat. Or feel fat. Or feel it and start thinking you are. 


I learned that when I feel fat (obsession!), or think I am (obsession!), I begin to feel distressed (compulsion, I need you!), which prompts me to quickly do something to provide the obsession some relief. 


Here’s where it gets tricky: diet culture glorifies these compulsions. 


Think about a run, a detox, a “really good diet day”, or internal checking…… lots and lots of checking. Did I eat well? Did I move today? Am I bloated? Did I gain weight?

What can I do to avoid feeling fat, or thinking I’m fat, so my obsessions and their distress stay really quiet and out of my way? 


Here’s what some other problem taught me: bad feelings are so okay. 


It’s okay to feel sad. Let it be and it will pass. 


It’s okay to feel angry. Let it out and it will go. 


It’s okay to feel afraid. Let it know you’re there. 


It’s okay to feel happy. It won’t last forever anyway. 


It’s okay to feel fat. Let it nudge until it finds someone else. 


They come, they go. I try not to do much about them. 


People are afraid of intuitive eating for a number of reasons, and I think one of them is the freedom it gives us.


The liberty to notice and acknowledge the negativity that comes to us, and to say “ Yeah, I hear that, but no, I’m not going to do anything about it.” I hear that ancient, negative belief. I hear that pesky, temporarily uncomfortable feeling in my body, but I choose to eat, move and live in a wiser way for me. It’s frightening to detach, re-evaluate and refocus. 


But should we fear being free?


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Gila Glassberg, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, holding an inclusive variety of foods

Gila Glassberg is a Master's level registered dietitian and a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. As a teenager, she was faced with constant diet talk, body shaming and obsessive guilt around food. She struggled with disordered eating. This is what propelled her into the field of nutrition. She uses a non-diet, weight-neutral approach called Intuitive Eating. She helps growth oriented women break out of chronic dieting, and regain clarity into what is really important to them.

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