Eating Disorder Treatment: What I've Learned So Far
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I am not a professional or doctor. This is what I learned and are my opinions based on my personal experience only. I advise you to speak with a professional/doctor if you think you have an eating disorder and before you make any changes.***
1. Do not count calories or weigh food. People with eating disorders think about food way too much. They think about how much or how little to eat. What and where to eat. What "good" and "bad" foods there are. Counting calories/weighing food just increases the stress/thoughts about food- don't do it. Instead, try to listen to your body on what/when/how to eat. Yes, you may stumble a few (or many) times, but that's ok, it will get easier in time. Focus on progress, not perfection.
2. Do not focus on weight/looks. You will find it difficult to be at a healthy weight where you are happy with your body when you have an eating disorder. Focus on your head, not your body. A person with an eating disorder is more likely to judge themselves/others based on looks. People with eating disorders are often perfectionists, hate making mistakes, and oftentimes suffer from depression/anxiety. They focus too much on being thin, looking perfect, losing weight when they should be focusing on what internal characteristics/values makes them a worthwhile individual. Shift your focus away from looks/weight and focus on becoming a mentally healthy person.
3. Do not restrict/diet. Putting this much pressure on yourself often leads to bad eating disorder cycles: binge-diet-binge-diet or binge-purge-binge-purge or binge-starve-binge-starve, etc. This isn't about dieting or losing weight, this is about developing healthy patterns in thinking and balance with food/life. When you fix the root problem the symptoms will improve.
4. Practice mindfulness. Try adopting activities you find peaceful that enhance self-awareness: yoga, nature walks, meditation, etc. Practice mindful eating by chewing foods slowly and enjoying meals with all of your senses. Savor each bite! Personally, eating slowly and paying attention to how foods taste helps me greatly.
5. Come up with a 911 card for stress-inducing eating disorder behaviors. When you feel so stressed you might resort to unhealthy behaviors- come up with a 30 min plan to keep you busy and calm you down. Example: go for a walk, listen to music, call a friend, etc. Oftentimes, extreme emotions peak around 25 minutes and we start to calm down afterwards. It may seem very unnatural to do this the first few times, but isn't that always the case when adopting new practices?
Feel free to share your thoughts or ask questions.