How Food Deprivation Leads To Low Self-Esteem

We all have needs. In fact, Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of them. The goal is self-actualization. To me, self-actualization is to be at peace with ourselves in the world. We have many steps to accomplish to get there! To illustrate this, Maslow created a pyramid to depict the necessity of building needs upon one another.  At the base of the pyramid are the physiological needs. Sleep, water, food, oxygen are necessary for survival and must be met before other needs can be attained. Yet, many people exist on too little sleep and deprive themselves of food and water throughout the day. Safety and security come next. I see many people who not only don’t meet their basic physical needs, but they also live in fear constantly. There is often a perpetual state of anxiety due to a history of trauma. Due to this trauma, people are unable to develop enough trust to create and maintain healthy relationships, so people are kept at a distance. So, with all of this going on, it is no wonder that so many people struggle with self esteem! How are we supposed to feel good about ourselves when we aren’t nourished properly physically, we are in constant panic and we don’t have close relationships? Wondering what to do about this?

1. ALWAYS give your body what it needs. I can’t state that strongly enough. Your body needs adequate food, water and sleep to be effective. I often have clients struggling to lose weight and can’t figure out the problem. Often, it is because they are sleeping too little, not getting enough water and ignoring signals of hunger and fullness, all of which leads to emotional eating.

2. Deal with your trauma. Trauma occurs on a spectrum. We think of abuse and war as the only traumas people endure, but anything that brings you pain can be traumatic. If there is something from your past that keeps coming up in your mind, it is likely trauma based. Addressing this can make a huge impact on your life. Make sure you find a therapist who is skilled in treating trauma. It is particularly helpful if you find someone trained in EMDR which is the gold standard for addressing PTSD, but incredible for any unresolved issue.

3. Surround yourself with people you can trust and have your best interest in mind. Find people who help you feel safe and secure. Granted, you must deal with your trauma to allow you to do this.

By meeting your needs, you can have the life you want. You just have to treat yourself as if you deserve it!

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.

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