The Return of This Is Us: How Eating & Weight Struggles Start


Shiri: Did you see the show? I’m still processing.

Kari: Our relationship with food is complicated. It’s generational.

The biggest reveal in the season opener is that Toby survives his heart attack. It was refreshing to learn that his heart condition was not about his weight.

But as with previous episodes, I see so much that is relevant to the stories of women who struggle with weight.

One Moving Example

Prior to surgery to repair his heart, Toby tells Kate that he loves her. Stunned, Kate doesn’t return the sentiment. But after processing with her sibs, Kate returns to Toby’s bedside and tells him that she loves him and wants to spend the rest of her life with him.

I remember this time in my life — how magical it is when food takes a back seat to romantic love.. That is, until anxiety and the subsequent cravings return, which is what usually happens with anyone who worries about their weight.

As to how those worries start, we see a prequel to Kate’s story — one that shows Kate’s issue with food started a long time ago — literally while she was in the womb.

The Root of Kate’s Weight Worries

In a flashback, we see Kate’s grandmother and mom, pregnant with Kate and her sibs, meet over lunch. Her grandmother orders a salad — no dressing, no nothing…just lettuce. Before her mother could open her mouth to order her meal, Grandmother says, “She’ll have the same, and a Diet Coke.”

Mothers controlling their daughters’ food. It’s so loaded with unspoken messages. Here Kate’s mom  sits, pregnant with triplets that she just told her mom about. Worried about what triplets mean, Grandmother’s coping mechanism is to control the only thing that she can….food.

It doesn’t end there.

Kate’s mother returns home, distraught with how they are going to raise triplets, and looks to Kate’s dad and says, “Go get me a gallon of chocolate chip mint ice cream”.

Well, of course!

Pregnancy cravings or rebellion…who doesn’t want to feel better in this situation? And this is what she can control in this moment of despair.

Treating Binge & Emotional Eating – In Real Life

First, there is no judgment here. What I have been telling families for years in the treatment of eating disorders, it’s not about blame. it’s about explaining the complicated web that creates an eating disorder. It’s a bio-psychosocial formula that is unique to each person.

Understanding it helps us let go of the shame that eating disorders thrive on..

Treatment for emotional and binge eating allows you to look at the why behind your eating behavior. It helps to untangle the web and understand that it is more than the gallon of ice cream, more than “the weight”. It really is about relationships and getting our needs met.

It’s about being hungry, not only physical hunger (and who wouldn’t be if you’re eating salad),  but also emotional and spiritual hunger.

This show is about relationships. We all can relate that they are complicated and beautiful at the same time. This is Life –This is Us

If you or someone you love has an eating or weight “problem”, consider the possibilities of exploring the why of eating this year, rather than chasing the need to control the food or weight.

And instead of waiting until you’ve “controlled” food or your weight, try to #BeHerNow.

Don’t hesitate to call and talk to someone at Green Mountain at Fox Run.

Until next week….

One response to “The Return of This Is Us: How Eating & Weight Struggles Start”

  1. Kate says:

    Thank you so much for these posts I get in my email. They are really helping me in my relationship with food and I’m not able to afford to attend in person.
    I relate so much to what is said and am finally beginning to learn cues my body is giving me about hunger and when hunger is satisfied.

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About the Author

Kari Anderson, DBH, LCMHC, CEDS

Having struggled with binge eating and weight stigma herself, Kari’s professional career has a personal passion driving it. She has been working with eating disorders for 25 years, with particular emphasis on Binge Eating Disorder. Kari has the unique ability to lead organizational teams and at the same time connect with individuals on a very real and compassionate level. Often referred to as someone who “gets it” by participants, she creates a safe environment. Prior to coming to Green Mountain, she positioned herself as a respected clinician and leader in the field of eating disorders. Having worked for treatment centers such as Remuda Ranch and The Rader Institute, she had the opportunity to help thousands of patients and their families. She earned her Doctorate of Behavioral Health with her research project The Mindful Eating Cycle: Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder at Arizona State University in 2012. Co-creator of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating for Binge Eating Program, Kari also co-authored the acclaimed book, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating: A Mindful Eating Program for Healing Your Relationship with Food and Your Body. Kari leads the Women’s Center for Binge and Emotional Eating at Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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