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What is Food Anxiety?

Food anxiety is an expression that describes the fear or worry about food and its effects on the body.

It can have several causes and symptoms, depending on the person and the type of anxiety they experience.


Some common forms of food anxiety are:

  • Fear of choking or having an allergic reaction to certain foods

  • Fear of gaining weight or being judged for eating too much or too little.

  • Fear of eating unfamiliar foods or foods with certain textures

  • Fear of eating in public or social situations



What causes Food anxiety?

The start of your eating problem may be linked to a stressful event or trauma in your life.

Some examples are:

  • Physical, emotional or sexual abuse

  • Serious family problems

  • The death of someone close to you

  • Pressures at school or work, such as exams or bullying

  • Physical health problem – this can make you feel powerless so you can use eating as a way of feeling in control.

  • Low self – esteem

  • Social pressure


Or an eating problem might begin because you experience a mental health problem.

Some examples include:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)



Cognitive behavioural therapy for eating disorders can involve:

  • Food Diary - immediately after eating and noting thoughts and feelings as well as behaviours.

  • Development of scale thinking to replace all-or-nothing thinking.

  • Development of strategies such as the use of delays and alternatives and problem-solving strategies

  • Meal planning. The patient should plan meals ahead of time and always know "what and when" their next meal will be.

  • Understanding what maintains the eating disorder and the psychological and medical consequences.

  • Identify strategies that have been helpful and how to deal with potential future failures

  • Getting rid of unhelpful thinking patterns and challenging the thoughts

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