Have 'Fear Foods' Hindered Your Eating Disorder Recovery?

August 8, 2018 Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

Fear foods can hinder eating disorder recovery if you're unwilling to face them. Learn how to confront your fear foods and recover from ED fully at HealthyPlace.

Has the anxiety surrounding "fear foods" hindered your progress in eating disorder recovery? Do you feel motivated to embrace healing, but you just cannot seem to overcome the inner panic that clenches your stomach when faced with a plate of spaghetti, box of donuts, or slice of pizza? Are there categories of food you have labeled "safe" and other categories you're still terrified of biting into? If you can relate to any of these scenarios, then you've allowed fear foods to hinder your eating disorder recovery—and the quickest approach to neutralizing that fear is challenging it head-on.    

Identifying Fear Foods and Your Beliefs Around Them

There is a reason why certain foods cause more anxiety than others, and it's important to assess what you believe about these fear foods in particular, so the root of this agitation can be addressed. To give an example, one of my fear foods is pasta. I also happen to be 50 percent Italian, which means the likelihood of encountering pasta at family celebrations is high. My eating disorder will not miss a chance to remind me that pasta is "unhealthy," and even a taste could sabotage my comfort level in this body of mine. But demonizing pasta is just a symptom of the larger issue—the restrictive beliefs I internalize about my relationship with food.   

So the question to ponder is: What does eating pasta communicate about me as a human being? And the answer is: Nothing. Period. 

This seems obvious, but my eating disorder is masterful at persuading me otherwise. I endorse the assumption that who I am is a product of what I consume. Kale, avocados, quinoa, almonds—these foods are equated with discipline and success. But pasta—now that is another story, one associated with failure. Even though it's deception, the belief surrounding my fear food is that morality and identity are derived from eating habits, so my diet needs to be just as "clean" as possible. What is the subtext lurking behind your own fear food?    

Addressing Your Fear Foods in Eating Disorder Recovery

Once you understand why the feeling of anxiety persists, you're better resourced to confront the symptom of that fear, which is the food itself. This process can be daunting, but if you choose an incremental and gradual approach, it will not seem entirely unsafe. Since the objective is to stop demonizing certain foods and start normalizing all foods, you will need to—quite literally—take a bite out of what scares you. Feel the discomfort, acknowledge the distress, then remind yourself of the power you wield, the strength to push through, and the courage to leave your comfort zone behind.

Food is nourishing. Pasta is satisfying. You deserve both nourishment and satisfaction. The eating disorder wants to keep you afraid, but fear is a liar, and facing it down is a breakthrough toward freedom. So if your fear foods have hindered the progression of recovery, be kind to yourself because resisting the voice of an eating disorder is painful, counterintuitive work. But also bear in mind that healing is on the other side of that spaghetti plate. 

Tags: fear foods

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2018, August 8). Have 'Fear Foods' Hindered Your Eating Disorder Recovery?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

Connect with Mary-Elizabeth on Facebook, Instagram and her personal blog.

Leave a reply