Living with an eating disorder is often a more challenging experience than one might imagine it to be. At this point, the most important thing is to work with a professional team while dealing with this disease in order to maximize the recovery. Your doctor, dietitian or psychologist will help you best. But there are some things you can do about it too:
1. Accept It and Ask For Help
The first thing you should do when you start to feel bad about your eating habits is to accept the situation you are in. Denying and ignoring what you have experienced will not gain you anything. After this stage, opening about yourself may be a bit challenging, you may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. But rest assured you are on the right track. Tell any of your relatives (friends, family, teachers, etc.) who are not judging you and will support you and let them help you.
2. Change The Direction of Your Emotional Pain
Eating disorders are never all about food. People coping with this disease often resort to food. Food helps them to suppress unpleasant feelings such as anxiety and stress and see these meals as a “defense mechanism”. For this reason, making yourself vomit, starving or overeating may seem to solve the problem, but it often leads to bigger problems. That’s why you should find healthier ways to deal with the bad experiences. For example, when you feel very upset, you can call a loved one or go for a short walk before overeating. Recognizing the emotion, you’re experiencing and finding a more “healthy” strategy that corresponds to it will work.
3. Flex Your Rules
It is nice and understandable to have some preferences regarding eating habits. However, making these choices within the framework of very strict rules will only make your situation worse. While having very strict rules itself creates anxiety, the stress you experience becomes much more when you cannot follow these rules. So be moderate and flexible about your habits and eating patterns. For example, “I will never eat pasta.” instead of saying, “I can eat pasta once in a while.” So, it makes you feel so much better.
4. Avoid Weight-Talk
In our daily life, from time to time, we make comments about our own or other people’s body, such as making jokes about weight, saying things about the body when we meet someone, or criticizing a celebrity who has gained weight. However, this behavior is of no use other than body dissatisfaction. Therefore, it may be an important step to emphasize the other characteristics of people, not their appearance. However, you’d better not spend too much time with people who only comment on the physical characteristics of others.
5.Avoid Negative Self-Talks
Each of us has a characteristic that we do not like about ourselves. We may find ourselves a little ‘short’ or ‘overweight’, which is quite normal. The important thing here is that you don’t build the value you give yourself on your outward appearance. As soon as you notice your negative thoughts about yourself, stop for a moment and think about whether there is any concrete evidence that confirms this negative thought. Remember, nothing can be completely true just because you think so.
6. Move On
We know that it is not right to exercise excessively while struggling with an eating disorder. However, doing light sports and staying active is very important for both your physical and mental health. The most important thing you need to pay attention to is to make room in your life for healthy exercises that aim to have fun, away from strict rules, instead of rule-oriented, mandatory exercises aimed only at weight control. Focus on activities that make you feel good, and exercise to feel good, not to lose weight. Swimming, jogging or walking will make you feel pretty good.
You won’t believe the big difference that small changes you make in your own life make, along with expert support while struggling with an eating disorder.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Ezgi Nur Budak has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and she is an intern at Health Clinic of Willingness.
Muhlheim, L. (2020). Manage The Nrgative Thoughts That Accompany Disordered Eating. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/strategies-for-managing-eating-disorder-thoughts-4019116
Smith, M., Robinson, L. & Segal, J. (2020). Eating Disorder Treatment and Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/eating-disorders/eating-disorder-treatment-and-recovery.htm#