TIPS FOR BEATING AN EATING DISORDER
I've been recovered for 8 years. Here are some of the things that got me to this place.
- •Keeping a food journal didn't work for me.Almost all nutritionists ask you to do this. It works for some people and that's GREAT. For me, it only pushed me further down the rabbit hole of counting calories, carbs, etc. and associating a sense of shame with eating. Now, I sometimes (but very rarely) use MyFitnessPal to check if I'm getting enough nutrients, but the line is drawn there. I don't measure anything else.
- •Cognitive behavioral therapy saved my life.CBT is a type of therapy committed to taking the negative behaviors associated with your illness (bingeing, purging, weighing/measuring yourself, trying on all your clothes, buying laxatives/enemas/ipecac) and mindfully replacing them with positive behaviors. So, instead of bingeing, I'm gonna take a bath, be out in nature, make a list of events in the next few months I'm really looking forward to, etc.
- •The binge rule.Someone taught me this a long time ago. Think of a food you enjoy but would never binge on. For me, it's yogurt. If I think I'm feeling hunger, I ask myself "Could I eat a yogurt right now?" If the answer is no, I'm most likely not hungry, but wanting to eat for emotional reasons. If the answer is yes, I'm actually physically hungry. I still use this rule all the time and it is mindbogglingly effective.
- •When I'm having a bad day, I CALL SOMEONE.It took a long time until I finally realized I CAN'T DO THIS ALONE. It's next to impossible to beat an eating disorder alone. Because what keeps you healthy is the support system you build for yourself. I'm 8 years sober because I know I can call my mom, @marissazim and @MCWillZ ANY time, day or night, and get my emotions out instead of eating 'em. I rarely go into crisis mode anymore, but the knowing that they're there is incredibly comforting.
- •I had to completely stop exercising and stuck to active things that couldn't be quantified/measured.These types of activities include: going for a walk around the neighborhood, go for a swim without doing laps, going on a hike, hula-hooping, taking a gentle yoga class, dancing around like an idiot while I cleaned my room.
- •Volunteer.I always tell the joke, "You know what cures eating disorders remarkably well? Living in a Third World country." It's silly, but it's true. I lived in Tanzania for a little while with the organization Volunteer Africa and came back to the States with a newfound commitment to my recovery. There has been research done on this topic and, you guys, it really does fucking work.
- •Recognizing that eating a balanced meal 3x a day and balanced snacks twice a day every day is NOT normal eating.You know what IS normal eating? Eating healthfully most of the time, overeating on some days and undereating on others. Eating "perfectly" is unachievable.
- •Remembering to breathe.I once had a therapist tell me that I held tension in my body like her patients with PTSD. I still carry around a TON of stress in my jaw and clench my stomach constantly without thinking. Taking a moment to consciously breathe makes a world of difference when you're trying to become comfortable in your body.
- •If you are currently suffering from an eating disorder, know that SO many people love you and recovery IS possible.I vividly remember a point in time where I broke down and thought I'd have to accept bulimia as the norm for the rest of my life. That I'd just have to live with it. I couldn't even conceive of a life where I didn't have it. It just goes to show that even the most disordered person CAN beat it. And I wish you so much luck and love. Putting in the work is SO hard and it takes a LONG time, but you'll get there, I promise. 💜