How do we relate to others? One of the key aspects which influences all our interactions with others is the extent of unconscious co-dependent behaviour that exists in us.
Ask yourself this question: Is there anything in my life, right now, that I feel anxious about? Do I feel responsible, in some way, for someone else’s feelings and/or needs?

Or, try it this way: Is there any anxiety in me that isn’t about me wanting control of someone’s perception of me because I believe that if they approve of me, I will finally be able to relax and will not feel anxious all the time?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, then this is being co-dependent, which means you feel responsible for what other people think and feel, and, subsequently what they do. This thought process is what allows abusive relationships to function. If you didn’t buy into feeling responsible for the other person’s feelings and life experience they would not be able to control you with their words and actions.

It’s also one of the primary contributors to the degree of anxiety and depression we see in our society and it leads us to use food to cope.

We feel extremely insecure when we are co-dependent. When we struggle with a co-dependent mindset we are constantly looking outside ourselves for validation of what we are doing right or wrong.

We know that anxiety is a primary trigger for anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. In other words, food is used to cope with the overwhelming discomfort one feels when they’re anxious. If you can just pinpoint what’s causing the anxiety and resolve, then you won’t need food to cope anymore.

It is important to have a natural relationship with food, eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full; as well as maintaining a healthy weight for your body without dieting and obsessing.

The process of recovery from needing food to cope is a complete process. In order to recover and leave an eating disorder behind forever you have to heal your relationship with food, your relationship with yourself and your relationships with others.

Healing that old tendency to feel responsible for the feelings and the needs of others is a key piece in freeing yourself of anxiety and of food obsession.

Simply put, when your life centers on trying to make others happy, so you can be happy, you feel anxious and insecure. Your old core beliefs keep getting triggered and reinforced (I’m not good enough; I am bad; I am wrong).

When you are clear on what your values and principles are and you make decisions from that place, you immediately feel stronger, clearer, more solid, and you feel relaxed and peaceful.

In my experience, the only way to truly be happy is to be clear on what your values and principles are. Commit to only acting in ways that honour those values and principles. Your decisions in many situations will be made for you by your solid foundation of values. You will no longer be co-dependent; you will be confident and be able to start to have a natural relationship with food.

Author's Bio: 

CEDRIC Centre founder Michelle Morand is a recovered compulsive eater and counsellor with over 17 years of experience in the field of recovery from eating disorders such as compulsive eating, anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, as well as casual factors such as depression, anxiety, and trauma.

Author of 'Food is not the Problem: Deal With What Is', Morand is a skilled educator and lecturer and frequently appears at live health shows, on radio and V, and in print media. Michelle is the editor for Insights Into Clinical Counseling (IICC) and won the BC Association for Clinical Counsellors 2009 Communications Award which recognizes a member or individual/organization from the media field who has provided regular, continuing, or special assistance in promoting counselling and/or mental health issues in the community.