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I have obsessive thoughts of not being able to eat or keep my food down

Hi Mark,

Whenever I am suffering from high anxiety, my obsessive thoughts always go to the same place. I obsess that either I'm not going to be able to eat or that I may be sick after I've eaten, both of which never happen, but they fill me with such dread. I love my food and am not interested in losing weight, so why do I obsess about this? It's ruining my life at present, as every mealtime, I get so worked up and panicky.

I've tried distraction, challenging my thoughts, and anything else I can think of. I just can't get the thoughts out of my head. Sometimes just the thoughts make me gag or heave. Every morning when I wake up, I have that dread feeling in my stomach and the thoughts are there. Sometimes, just the mention of a meal makes me panicky, but I love my food and can't understand why my anxiety affects me in this way.

I had OCD for 12 years when I was younger and used to count and touch things. I got myself out of that and don't do it anymore, but I think I live in fear of it coming back. I think I panic about being sick after a meal because I am scared that if it happens the OCD will come back and that it will then happen after every meal.

When I was pregnant 13 years ago, I had a panic attack in the middle of a busy street that made me sick, and this seems to be where the thoughts first came from.

Please help, I'm at my wits' end. I have a wonderful life and two amazing children. I so want to be me again. Any advice would be so welcome.

Many thanks,


This question was submitted by 'Helen'

mark tyrrell

Mark says...

Hello, Helen. Thank you for writing in.

Anxiety always looks for a 'shape'. It's hard to feel anxious in a vacuum, so the imagination eagerly grabs the anxiety and gives it form. That's why when we feel stressed and anxious we worry about stuff we'd never dream of worrying about when we feel relaxed.

We can deal with this misuse of the imagination in two ways. Either we challenge the imaginings directly with logic and/or we relax deeply whilst we imagine the obsessive fantasies and, in that way, take the 'charge' out of them so their compulsion drops away. This approach is much more effective than 'trying not to think about it', which is a useless strategy recommended by so many people.

You've been having fear of fear; fear that the OCD will come back. But you know things now that you didn't back then. Your body has millions of years of evolutionary wisdom behind it. One thing it knows how to do is take in and absorb nutrition. As you relax more, you will trust your body to do what it knows so well to do and focus your mind on meeting your needs in life so you can feel happy and healthy.

It may be that the panic attack you experienced in the street still bothers you. An important question to ask yourself is: When you recall that panic attack, does it still make you anxious to recall it? Does it feel like it happened 'yesterday' even though it was 13 years ago? Or does it feel distant and properly past when you recall it? If that memory still feels 'fresh' and is still plaguing you, then it might be that the memory needs to be deconditioned by a therapist skilled in the Rewind Technique, which is used to lift phobias and PTSD, and you might find that taking the trauma out of it will dramatically shift any current fears. In the meantime, you could try the 'Stop Obsessive Thoughts' download.

It will be great to take back the reins of your imagination and have it working constructively for you as a tool to improve your life.

All best wishes,


watch icon Published by Mark Tyrrell - July 8th, 2014 in

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