Eating problems reveal other challenges
Jamie went through a tough transition after leaving the Marine Corps. She lost interest in eating and had trouble sleeping. Her mom noticed her weight loss and urged her to find support. Jamie began seeing a social worker and a psychologist and found ways to overcome stress and anxiety, which improved her sleep and appetite.
What are eating problems?
You may have days when you just don’t feel like eating, or maybe you are binging on food some days and not eating much on others. Have you noticed a loss of appetite because you’re feeling blue? Or, when you feel stressed out, do you turn to food to make yourself feel better? These things can be signs of eating problems, or even an eating disorder.
Although everyone experiences stress or sadness at some point, people respond to these emotions differently. Some Veterans may find that, because they feel down, they’re having trouble eating. Others may find that eating when they’re sad or depressed makes them feel better, but then they feel more upset later for overeating.
“After talking to my counselor, I realized I was eating food as a way to get comfort. It wasn’t until my counselor pointed it out to me that I saw my eating issues were really related to how I was handling stress.”
If left unchecked, eating problems can affect your health and the way you feel about yourself, and they could lead to unhealthy weight loss or gain. Eating problems may also be related to other conditions that should be addressed, such as chronic pain, guilt, depression, and problems with drugs. These challenges can contribute to eating problems and also make it hard to follow your doctor’s dietary recommendations for a healthy lifestyle. In some cases, what or how you eat can make other problems worse or reduce the effectiveness of medications.
If I’m experiencing eating problems, what can I do about it right away?
- Try to find healthy ways of managing stress, such as taking a walk, going for a run, talking to a friend, practicing relaxation exercises like deep breathing or meditation, or doing something nice for yourself, like watching a movie or reading a magazine.
- Eat regular, healthful meals and snacks to maintain your appetite and reduce the likelihood of overeating.
- Work to improve your health overall. Exercise regularly and get the right amount of sleep — seven to nine hours each night is ideal for most adults.
Talking to your family and friends can be a good first step. You may want to talk to them about what you’re experiencing. They may be able to provide support and help you to find solutions for your eating problems that are right for you. Having someone’s support as you improve your eating habits can be very helpful.