The More Weight Thats Gained The Harder It Is To Get Motivated
As the habitual overeater ages, he or she steadily gains more and more weight. It becomes harder to find the motivation and physical stamina to lose weight. This is complicated by the drop in metabolism common with the onset of middle age.
Many habitual overeaters consign themselves to gaining more and more weight as they head into their later years. The more they eat, the larger they become. The larger they become, the less able they are to physically address their extra weight.
Your Eating Disorder Recovery: The Hardest Thing Youll Ever Do
Before we dive into this post, Id like to share what I believe are some hard truths about eating disorder recovery:
Make a mental note of these, write them down and stick them on your bedroom wall, because as you navigate this journey, remembering these will help you when the going gets tough.
Is now the time for change?
The first thing we need to talk about is change. You have to be ready to change. Figuring out if you are ready is the first step in your eating disorder recovery.
At Altum Health, we spend a good amount of time during the initial stages of therapy discussing:
- What needs to change
- Whats making it so hard to change
- The pros and cons of changing.
Only when youve gone through this process can you understand whether youre ready to move into the action phase of making a change.
Recovery is all about change but at the beginning, its not always about immediately changing behaviours. Its often about changing your thoughts and feelings first. Then, you can move into changing your actions and your coping strategies. And change is not easy! If it were, I know you would have done it yourself a long time ago. More about that here.
Lets begin your journey
Learn to walk before you run
Push through the hard times
How Are Eating Disorders Treated
Treatment will be different depending on the type of eating disorder your friend or relative has.
It will usually involve some kind of talking therapy because help with eating and putting on weight alone is usually not enough.
Your friend or relative will talk to a therapist about the emotional difficulties that led to their eating disorder, and they will learn healthier ways to cope with these feelings. Their treatment may also involve them working through a guided self-help programme.
During their treatment, they will also have regular health checks to look after their physical health.
Treatment will take place over a number of weeks so your friend or relative can get used to the changes slowly. The earlier they start, the better their chances of making a good recovery.
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How Can Eating Disorders Lead To Addiction
Someone who struggles with an eating disorder is also likely to suffer from mental illness, making them more likely to develop an addiction. Sometimes, individuals may also abuse drugs or alcohol to suppress their appetite. For example, a person may abuse stimulants or slim pills to lose weight. However, chronic misuse of OTC and prescription stimulants or slim pills can cause physical and psychological addiction.
People recovering from an eating disorder may also develop a substance use disorder to self-medicate due to intense emotions. Conversely, individuals recovering from a substance use disorder may develop an eating disorder as they attempt to control their psychological experience.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration , women with either a substance use disorder or an eating disorder were more than four times as likely to develop the other disorder as were women who had neither disorder. Additionally, 14 percent of women with a substance use disorder had anorexia, and 14 percent had bulimia.8
Secrets To Eating Disorder Recovery
Theres no question that letting go of an eating disorder is one of the hardest things a person can do. Its also important to note that each individual will follow their own unique path to recovery.
While there is no magic wand to wave away all the stress, challenges and difficult moments, Ill try to provide the next best thing: some secrets shared by individuals who have been in your shoes and ended up being able to kick ED to the curb.
1). Practice Self-Compassion: Decide that you are worthy of recovery and living a joyous life full of ups and downs. Forgive yourself when you have a bad day. Acknowledge when you are tired and need rest. And keep reminding yourself that you are doing the best that you can.
2). Feed your soul: If your body and brain are being deprived, you are less likely to reap the benefits of everything from therapy to mindfulness. Regardless of body shape or size, malnourishment increases the risk of medical complications, co-morbid psychiatric symptoms and distorted thinking. Consider ways to nourish yourself beyond just the physical piece. Look at ways to feed your soul. We nourish our bodies with food, and our minds and hearts with knowledge and love.
4). FOMO is real: You have your clinical team, but where is your squad? Dont let ED isolate you from those you care about and those who care about you too! As one recovery pro put it
As always, Walden is here to help if you need guidance and support.
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Don’t Blame Your Family
Although it used to be more commonly believed that parents were a leading cause of disordered eating, the latest research shows that eating disorders have complex causes that include genetic and societal factors. No family is perfect. If your family has been unsupportive, they likely don’t know how to be supportive. Talk with your treatment provider about how to process your relationships to be able to move on as you recover. Many providers will also encourage family sessions and sometimes use teletherapy or online counseling to include family members who live out of town.
Fight The Urge To Binge Eat
I know this one feels easier said than done, and sometimes that will be true. Sometimes, in the beginning stages of recovery, you wont be able to talk yourself out of a binge. However over time, and with practice, as you become more skillful. It will be easier to say to yourself, Just because I want it doesnt mean I have to have it.
In moments where the urge to binge is strong, I ask clients to employ the 4 Ds: delay, distract, determine, decide. Remember that wanting to binge isnt enough of a reason to binge.
DBT skills can also be particularly useful when urges and feelings become overwhelming.
Remind yourself that you are stronger than the urge to binge, but dont beat yourself up if you do binge.
Try to differentiate between hunger and cravings especially if it is for a risky food you have a history of binging on and you are early on in your recovery. Cravings typically come on suddenly as a result of external cues or internal shifts .
In these moments I find it sometimes helpful for an individual to plan a crave. Instead of eating the food at a moment when you are feeling vulnerable, plan to eat this food for a different day that week as a snack or meal. You never want to deny yourself the food . With risky/challenge foods it is often better to enjoy them in non-impulsive moments when you are less vulnerable to overdoing it.
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Embrace Health At Every Size
Health at Every Size is a holistic approach to health and wellness. It is the opposite of a weight-centric approach, advancing health as a spectrum, not an end-point or moral imperative. Learning about HAES means learning a new approach to caring for your body, finding pleasure in eating and joy in movement, and letting go of rules about health that is focused on body size.
Get Your Body In Balance
When your body is out of balance it throws your hunger cues out of whack. In order to get your cues back on track, it is important to follow the DBT PLEASE skills by:
- taking care of any physical illness
- making sure to get enough regular sleep, moving your body in a balanced mindful way
- eating nourishing balanced meals at regular times, avoiding abusing mood-altering substances
- making sure to take any medications as prescribed
One of the most critical components of this process in helping to recover from binge eating is to regulate your eating patterns. Many clinicians and treatment programs today recommend following an Intuitive Eating model. I am a strong believer in intuitive eating, with one big caveat.
I find that clients in the beginning stages of recovery from binge eating and emotional eating are not able to start with intuitive eating.
As someone with a history of disordered patterns of eating, your internal barometer has now become calibrated in a way that doesnt support optimum balance.
When we spend months and years eating in a non-regulated and non-intuitive manner, we need to re-learn these skills before we have the foundation in place to support intuitive eating. For this reason, I recommend clients begin working with a nutritionist familiar with eating disorders and specially trained to work with binge eating.
Tip : Develop A Balanced Relationship With Food
Even though food itself is not the problem, developing a healthier relationship with it is essential to your recovery. Most people with eating disorders struggle with issues of control when it comes to foodoften fluctuating between strict rules and chaos. The goal is to find a balance.
Let go of rigid eating rules. Strict rules about food and eating fuel eating disorders, so its important to replace them with healthier ones. For example, if you have a rule forbidding all desserts, change it into a less rigid guideline such as, I wont eat dessert every day. You wont gain weight by enjoying an occasional ice cream or cookie.
Dont diet. The more you restrict food, the more likely it is that youll become preoccupied, and even obsessed, with it. So instead of focusing on what you shouldnt eat, focus on nutritious foods that will energize you and make your body strong. Think of food as fuel for your body. Your body knows when the tank is low, so listen to it. Eat when youre truly hungry, then stop when youre full.
Stick to a regular eating schedule. You may be used to skipping meals or fasting for long stretches. But when you starve yourself, food becomes all you think about. To avoid this preoccupation, try to eat every three hours. Plan ahead for meals and snacks, and dont skip!
How The Chlo Grande Blog Is Helping People Recover From Eating Disorders
Chloë Grande was one of approximately one million Canadians who have been diagnosed with an eating disorder.
At the age of 15, Grande developed anorexia nervosa, an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat. With the support of McMaster Childrens Hospital and family-based therapy, she recovered enough to be able to go away for university, grad school and work in Toronto as a communication specialist.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Grande relapsed with her eating disorder as a coping mechanism to deal with her anxiety and stress.
After receiving help from a new therapist, she was inspired to create an eating disorder recovery blog to share her story and encourage others experiencing similar struggles.
I want people to feel less alone because when I was at my sickest, I thought I was the only one going through this and it was absolutely terrifying, Grande said in an interview on Morning Live Thursday.
If there had been someone blogging and writing about what theyre going through at the time that I could have read, I think it wouldve really affected me in a positive light.
The blog, which launched in early 2021, includes a variety of articles from signs of an eating disorder to helpful tips on how to recover.
The online platform has also gained international attention as Grande has been featured in a documentary created by two Toronto women and she has been interviewed by a newspaper in Texas.
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Develop A Support System
Most people who recover from bulimia dont do it alone. They have a network of support that helps them along the way. And so, building your network of support is a crucial step of how to recover from bulimia. Your network can include close friends, trusted family members, your treatment team, support groups, and even online groups for people in recovery. These people can help you through bad moments, cheer on victories and milestones in recovery, and be there to support you as you recover.
Linda Gerhardt is writer and content creator who works in nonprofit technology by day and runs a fat activism & Health at Every Size-focused blog called Fluffy Kitten Party by night. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and rescue pets.
The Third Step Is Acknowledgement
When a binge eater acknowledges that God has the power to help them overcome their eating disorder and put their life back together.
Once taking these three steps, the binge eater will be ready to start along the road to recovery, and the resources to assist them along this journey will reveal themselves. There is always hope. There are countless stories of people that successfully confronted their Binge Eating Disorder, sought out the necessary tools, and regained a life of health and balance.
Eating Disorders Among Adults Binge Eating Disorder. NIMH RSS. Web. 18 Aug. 2014.
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Start Healing Your Relationship With Your Body
Bulimia is destructive to your relationship with your body in so many ways. It can cause physical damage, such as esophageal and dental problems, but the damage goes well beyond that. Bulimia can turn you into a combatant against your body, waging a war against your own flesh. And an essential piece of recovering is healing that relationship and reconnecting with your body as a friend, not a foe.
Tip : Learn To Accept And Love Yourself As You Are
When you base your self-worth on physical appearance alone, youre ignoring all the other qualities, accomplishments, and abilities that make you beautiful. Think about your friends and family members. Do they love you for the way you look or who you are? Chances are, your appearance ranks low on the list of what they love about youand you probably feel the same about them. So why does it top your own list?
Placing too much importance on how you look leads to low self-esteem and insecurity. But you can learn to see yourself in a positive, balanced way:
Make a list of your positive qualities. Think of all the things you like about yourself. Are you smart? Kind? Creative? Loyal? Funny? What would others say are your good qualities? Include your talents, skills, and achievements. Also, think about negative qualities you dont have.
Stop body checking. Pinching for fatness, continually weighing yourself, or trying on too-small clothes only magnifies a negative self-view and gives you a distorted image of what you really look like. We are all very bad at detecting visual changes in ourselves. Your goal right now is to learn to accept yourselfand that shouldnt depend on a number on the scale or a perceived flaw you think you see in the mirror.
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Where I’m At With My Binge Eating Disorder Recovery
While the process has been life-changing, Im keen to emphasise that this is me in recovery, as opposed to me recovered, with my disordered eating being solved and my body image issues tied up in a neat bow.
Most days are straightforward, but occasionally there are times that I need to dig a bit deeper to prevent myself from retreating back into the cycle that restrained my life for so long. Im not going to tell you that confronting your demons is easy but the struggle is probably worth it.
A book was my catalyst to finally being honest with myself and understanding the role I was playing in my own discomfort, which allowed me to make meaningful and long-term lifestyle changes. It may be a GP visit or therapy sessions for you.
The journey might seem intimidating but, for me, it was the best thing I ever did and it could be for you, too.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Being self-critical often goes along with many other symptoms of eating disorders, but it won’t help to motivate you or help you in recovery. Instead, being overly critical of yourself can increase feelings of shame and negative emotions you may experience, exacerbating an already difficult situation. Work to stay positive and use affirmation exercises to help combat self-critical thoughts.
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Distract Yourself From Your Anxiety
Distraction can be a powerful weapon in combating anxiety. Find ways to self-soothe so you can get past a moment of anxiety. For some people, a repetitive task like knitting or coloring in an adult coloring book can be soothing and distracting enough that momentary anxiety melts away. And some people may need to physically take themselves out of an anxious moment or situation by going for a walk or hopping in their car for a drive with the radio on.