Divorce affecting eating habits | Ask Jigsaw | Jigsaw

Ask Jigsaw: Divorce affecting eating habits

Ask Jigsaw: Divorce affecting eating habits

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

My parents told me they were getting a divorce before lockdown, i told only 1 of my friends since quarantine. they have been living in the same house. i feel alone sometimes.

a few days ago my brother found out that my father was with another woman. he blamed me. for the last month i have been exercising and weighing myself everyday ive been counting calories and weighing my food .i dont know how to deal with the divorce but ive began to become obsessed with food and its leaving me tired and hungry.

-Henan

Hi Henan,

I’m sorry that your parents are separating during an already very difficult time. When parents’ divorce, we can feel a number of intense emotions including anger, relief, and sadness. There is certainly no right or wrong way to react.  It sounds like you could be managing this intense situation by trying to control your food intake.

An icon of a paper and pen on a teal background
Linda
Jigsaw Clinician
When everything seems out of control, we can try to regain normality by creating rules. This can come in the form of food restriction and counting calories.

Control

When everything seems out of control, we can try to regain normality by creating rules. This can come in the form of food restriction and counting calories. Initially, it can feel good as we feel in control, although quite quickly our rules can become stricter and we may feel overwhelmed. This way of coping can be really damaging to our physical and mental health. When we don’t eat enough, we don’t have enough energy to think and process what’s going on around us. As you have described, you can be left tired and hungry.

Emotions

We can start to address our eating habits by dealing with the reason that they became unhealthy in the first place. Begin to explore what emotions you’re feeling at the moment. Try using a journal to jot them down. It’s important to accept our emotions as natural responses to difficult times, like changes within our families.

Linda
Jigsaw Clinician
Parents separate for their own personal and complex reasons. It’s certainly not caused by their children.

Alternative coping strategies

As we learn to avoid harmful coping strategies, like food restriction, it’s important to replace them. Identifying coping strategies is more challenging now than ever, as we self-isolate with families, have reduced access to self-care activates, and are unable to see friends. It is still possible to prioritise time for ourselves, we may just have to be inventive. Listen to this short clip for some self-care inspiration.

Blame

Casting blame occurs all too often during a parental separation and I’m sorry to hear that you have been on the receiving end of it. It can be very painful to try to understand why parents separate, and sometimes it can be easier to blame someone. However, parents separate for their own personal and complex reasons. It’s certainly not caused by their children.

Getting support

It sounds like this is a lot to deal with for one person and I’m glad you have spoken to one friend about it. However, it is also important to speak to an adult and to get some support for what is going on. It is important to address the changes in your eating as soon as possible. If you feel comfortable speaking to your parents, it could be very helpful to have them on your side and they would want to know what’s going on.

Releasing some control over strict eating habits is a lot more possible with the right support. Bodywhys is a mental health charity that provides a lot of information about disordered eating and they also provide online support. Check out their website here.

Take care,

Linda, Jigsaw Clinician

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