Living a Life Free from Food Restriction

Today we have a post from our Master’s Level Intern, Hannah Wise. Hannah Wise is a compassionate therapist at Anchored Counseling Co., dedicated to helping individuals reconnect with themselves and their bodies. She values empathy, authenticity, and vulnerability in her therapeutic relationships, aiming to create a safe and collaborative space for healing and recovery. Hannah believes in the inherent beauty and worth of all bodies, emphasizing their empowerment in overcoming daily challenges.

Specializing in eating disorders, body image concerns, women’s issues, trauma, self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and OCD, Hannah employs a variety of therapeutic approaches. She is proficient in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Somatic Experiencing, mindfulness, and family therapy, tailoring her methods to meet the unique needs of her clients.

Hannah is deeply committed to walking alongside her clients on their journey of reconnection and self-discovery, offering her expertise and support every step of the way. Please enjoy this post from Hannah…

We receive so many different messages about food and our bodies. Instagram influencers tell us what they eat in a day. Workout programs tell us to do certain exercises that they promise will give us our “dream body”. It’s exhausting to keep up with all these varied (and sometimes contradicting) messages. It makes eating stressful to the point where it feels like the only answer is food restriction. 

How do we live a life without food restriction when the media, friends and family, and sometimes even medical doctors perpetuate the idea that we need to eat less or eat “healthier”? It can be difficult to deprogram ourselves from buying into these ideas, but I want to pose some practical tips and tricks that can be useful in freeing yourself from food restriction. 

It may not be about the food: Are you using food restriction to cope with or try to control another facet of your life? I want to encourage you to notice the thoughts and feelings that come up before you feel compelled to restrict. Our thoughts drive our feelings, which drive our actions. For example, did you have a thought that your job is too difficult, a feeling that you are inadequate, and therefore a drive to skip dinner to regain a sense of competence and worthiness? The thought-feeling-action chain could be anything, but having awareness around what leads to food restriction is essential to combat it. The best way to build awareness? Slow down, pause, and if you can, journal about it. “Journaling” could be as easy as a quick entry into your Notes app. Taking time to pause and feel your feelings can be difficult, especially during our hectic and busy lives, but it can be very revealing of what is going on inside of us and the events that may trigger food restriction. 

Eat meals with others: Food restriction thrives in isolation. Restriction encourages secrecy and shame, which push us away from the people in our lives. Eating with others provides the opportunity to build connection and community. Connection is the ultimate tool for healing and realigning with our bodies. When we heal and reconnect, it allows us to build upon more meaningful (and hopefully values-aligned) components of our lives. So, go to brunch with your friends, ask your partner out on a dinner date, or even do lunch over Zoom with your parents or long-distance best friend this weekend. While this may feel scary to implement, you’ll find these moments of connection serve you much more than your food restriction ever will. 

Create small goals: It would be a big ask of yourself to stop food restriction entirely right now. Doing so may set you up for future disappointment if you catch yourself reverting back to restrictive behaviors. That is why I encourage you to create smaller goals for yourself in moving toward a life free of food restriction. What small goal can you set for yourself today that nudges you toward food freedom? Maybe that’s practicing noticing hunger cues or ditching the food scale when portioning out your dinner. These bite-sized goals make progress seem less daunting and accomplishing them motivates you along the path of healing rather than giving up after one misstep. 

Closing out

These three practical tips and tricks should be an excellent starting point in navigating a life free of food restriction. If you need additional support, I recommend following @wakeupandsmelltherosay on Instagram. She provides excellent mindset shifts, tips, and psychoeducation around food and body image. 

Finally, I’d like to leave you with an affirmation to carry with you when you feel the pull back toward food restriction. Write this down in your Notes app along with your thought-feeling-action chain, turn it into a festive graphic on Canva and make it your home screen, or just carry it with you in your head and heart. 

“I live with compassion for myself and my body. I give myself and my body when they need.”

You got this!

Hannah Wise

We hope you found Hannah’s insights on navigating the grief associated with chronic pain helpful. If her message resonated with you, this could be the perfect time to take meaningful steps toward your healing and peace. To initiate your work with Hannah, please feel free to call our office at 615.510.3797 or click here to learn more.

Anchored Counseling Company is a a group practice specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression, body image concerns, eating disorders & disordered eating, substance use, trauma and PTSD, and spirituality in Brentwood, Tennessee and serving the greater Nashville, Tennessee area. We are easily accessible for clients living in Franklin, Tennessee and Spring Hill, Tennessee. 

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