When Eating Disorders Turn Mothering into Smothering

Within all of us is the capacity to nurture, care for, and protect ourselves. In essence, we’re capable of being the very best mother we’ve ever (or never) had. When we tune into that voice, which is gentle and quiet, we might hear things like, “Turn off the TV and get some sleep.” or “Did you drink enough water today?” or “Let’s go for a walk to stretch our legs.”

Over time, however, that gentle mothering voice is drowned out by the din of “wisdom” offered by the voice of disordered eating. This voice is based in fear (fear of gaining weight, fear of being unlovable, fear of rejection) and is aided by society, our respective cultures, and the media. This voice might tell us things like, “Don’t have dessert in front of your friends. They’ll think you’re a pig.” or “Just have another cocktail. You’re feeling more relaxed by the minute.” or “Keep pushing. Just run one more mile. Rest is for the weak!” Some of the advice sounds wise, but only serves to smother our authentic selves and block us from fully engaging in the ups and downs of life.

On this Mother’s Day, I invite you to tune into that gentle, quiet voice of your inner mother. What are some of the encouraging words you hear? Perhaps you could write them down and review them this week. As you do, consider all the mother figures in your life, all the mentors who have lived their own lives with authenticity by being open about their feelings, asking for what they need, and admitting to their wrongs. Hear their words, remember their actions, and choose for yourself how you will live your life instead of letting the voice of disordered eating choose for you.

Peace, joy, and health,



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