In Dr. Sears’ book, “The Baby Book,” he states that, “It is a natural, appropriate, and desirable part of development for a baby to be dependent. A baby needs to have needs. A baby who’s forced into independence (to become a self-soother) before his time misses the needs stage. A baby needs first to learn to bond to people before things. If a baby can’t have needs, who can? If the parents can’t fill those needs, who will? Later in life you may be very distressed to see who or what will be used to fill needs that went unmet in infancy.” A woman’s relationship to her needs can be a very complicated one. Often times, women can feel lost as they try and navigate the relationship with their needs, this dilemma is no more evident than in the woman struggling with an eating disorder, after all one of our most basic needs is our need to eat. The different eating styles of the anorexic, bulimic, or compulsive overeater can shed light on the woman’s relationship to her own needs.
The anorexic woman hates her emotional neediness and so she will starve herself as a way of declaring how strong she is. She is so strong that she has no needs, she doesn’t even need food, she doesn’t need anyone, she can overcome her weaknesses and be in control. The bulimic woman moves back and forth between whether or not she deserves to take in and keep her nurturance. As she oscillates between secret gorging rampages, that are attempts to fill her needs, and violent purging, where she is attempting to give back what she has taken in and punish herself for her neediness in the first place. For the woman struggling with overeating there doesn’t ever seem to be enough sustenance. Just as her appetite can never be satisfied, her needs feel like they can never be satisfied either. She does not trust in the availability and abundance of food, just as she does not trust in the availability and abundance of human love and connection.
Identifying what you really need and feel can allow you to determine how to express those needs directly rather than recruiting food to do it for you. The more connected and responsive you are to your inner emotional self and needs the less likely you will be to divert your energy into worries about food, eating, and weight.