Case Study: Sofia: Free From Food Anxiety

Sofia enjoyed all there was about food. For her it was a cause to celebrate and all family celebrations centered around food. Although there was never any talk about weight and size, there was also never talk about health. As she gained weight after the birth of her children , she started feeling anxious about what she was eating–especially as she noticed her kids gaining weight ahead of relatives and their classmates.

Unlike a lot of people struggling with weight gain brought on by life changes, Sofia only got positive reinforcement. The same went for two growing boys. However, she was starting to worry about eating, especially at family gatherings and group settings. She had heard the comments towards family that went vegan or were looking for healthier options. In her family, the richest dishes were equated with survival, affluence, and love.

Her family was large and there was a food-centered gathering at least once a month. She began worrying about what she would eat and what kind of example she was setting for her boys. She began restricting what she was eating for days before an event so that she could enjoy the traditional and comforting foods that she really wanted to enjoy. She did not want to be ridiculed for not eating them either.

Referred to me by a friend, we set to work together virtually. Two time zones apart, I detailed my program and how it could help her. Specifically, we would work on anxiety triggers with cognitive behavior tools and gentle nutrition approach to a balanced and sustainable eating lifestyle. I wanted her to know that her comfort foods were not a thing of the past!

During the program, Sofia uncovered the root cause of her anxiety was centered around some early deaths in her family that seemed to have been preventable based on health teachings. Here, we added an education component that looked at diet culture, health, and measurements that are indicators of health (without a focus on thinness). In addition to this information, we worked on a revamping a few family favorites to have more nutrition without sacrificing the “indulgence” or love factor.

Sofia ended the program without anxiety around eating in planned or impromptu gatherings and has not experienced those feelings in the last two years. She has also applied my “crowding out” method of eating healthy with her sons and have become role models among their young relatives.

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