Are you in the beginning stages of an eating disorder? The question is blunt. But if you are anything like I once was, you may be browsing Recovery Warriors to get some sort of gauge on where you stand in the eating disorder world.
If you look on the internet or WebMD definition of and eating disorder, it probably involves BMI and cookie cutter symptoms that a person may or may not experience. However, the only true indicator of mental illness is an individual’s state of mind. How much do the disordered thoughts run your mind on a day-to-day basis?
Are you constantly worried about your weight? Do you obsess with what you will or won’t let yourself eat? Are you a prisoner to strict rules and regulations? Are your joyful times in life over shadowed by anxiety, fear, regret, and shame?
If so – there is hope.
No human being deserves to be plagued by the little voice in the back of his/her mind that states over and over again, “you are not good enough”. Because that voice lies.
If rules, regret, shame, and food rule your mind, there are 3 tips to battle the war within your mind.
Do you ever look in the mirror and feel as though you have no idea what or who to believe about yourself, your body, or your health? Have you ever wondered, “why does my body need this food?” or “will I be changed from this one meal?”
I have. To this day I have a trusted friend and my husband to fact check with when the eating disorder voice is screaming so loud that I can’t hear my own thoughts.
Here’s a true-life example text exchange between me and my husband:
When I cannot tell reality from ED, I solicit help. Fact checking with a person who knows my struggles and will answer in a pro-recovery manner gets my head back on the right track.
Reach out to someone and fact-check when you need reassurance. It is a game changer.
2. Get to vs. Have to
When faced with a decision that is hard to decipher through the eating disorder thoughts, ask yourself this question. Do I get to __________ or do I have to __________.
This is a life-saving practice for me to stay in my wise mind.
Example dialogue that will ensue at a restaurant:
Me: I really want a salad.
Counter Me: Do you really want a salad, or do you want it because it is what ED is telling you it is a healthier option?
Me: Well, if I am honest, ED is kind-of loud….
Counter Me: Do you get to have the salad, or do you have to have the salad?
Me: The chicken sandwich really does sound good to me… I feel as though I am need more protein than the salad would offer.
Counter Me: Get the chicken sandwich.
Me: Thank you, I will.
Asking yourself this important question in ALL areas of your decision making in recovery will help keep you on track. It takes practice, but my last tip will help you get there.
3. Opposite Action
This is one of the hardest, yet most effective ways to counter ED thoughts and fears in the battle for recovery… opposite action.
There will be fears/hesitations that your eating disorder will stir up on a daily basis. You have to challenge that thought and take back control of your body and mind by doing the opposite action.
Let me give you an example:
The other morning I was tempted to run while I was on a walk. Running was my addiction when I was deep in my disorder. So it is a definite NO for me now in my recovery.
Well, when I recognized this unhealthy want or need in my body movement, I stopped. I acknowledged the ED thought of you should run, and I literally sat down on the curb.
That small act of defiance to the ED voice helped my wise mind regain control so I could continue my walk in peace.
When ED thoughts tell me to order wheat bread, I get white.
If ED thoughts encourage me to do crunches, I journal instead of giving into the exercise demand.
When ED thoughts tell me to judge my stomach, I rub it and give myself a compliment.
If ED thoughts tell me to use olive oil instead of vegetable oil, I grab that liquid gold and veggie oil it up.
When ED thoughts tell me “That is enough to eat”, I take one more bite. This practice has helped ground me in my wise mind and cultivate a healthier relationship with myself. And I know it can help you, too.
If you are reading this, you probably suffer from these debilitating thoughts or want to help someone who is.
These three actions can truly jump start a person into being more aware of his/her wise mind and begin to diminish ED thoughts that can weaken even the strongest person.
Like all good things, this takes time. But what do you have to lose?
Time will pass either way. You might as well learn to live fully present in the moment while loving yourself to the core- that is my hope for you, Warrior.