I have been so strong and positive this summer, especially during this week; it has been so uplifting, satisfying and rewarding. I wanted to take the time to write out what I believe to be essential tools for my success in my recovery from my eating disorder and progress towards complete, holistic health.
1. Being able to anticipate certain situations as anxiety-inducing, which in my case is essentially synonymous with a severe urge to binge/eat emotionally. For instance, I know that situations where I am left alone with food are hugely triggering. Also, situations where I am eating, even if it may be a very healthy and wholesome meal, and someone in my home abruptly leaves during that time. I am assuming that this is because that nagging eating disordered voices tells me that there is no point in being healthy if I don’t have to be accountable for it since no one is there anyways.
This ability to recognize my weak moments helps me to think ahead and prepare for it. No, I will not seek to avoid the situation presented, but instead I will think of strategies to reduce my anxiety and consequently avoid binging or purging.
2. At least once or twice a day, the urge to binge or purge will arise. In terms of binging, it will usually be masked as an intense urge or craving for some type of junk food. Now, I am not against the consumption of treat foods at all, however, under these conditions, I know it is not safe for me to do so.
So what I will do is this: grab some ice cold water or some hot, unsweetened tea and do a lot of self-talk. I’ll say things like, “This feeling of being unsettled will in no way be solved by consuming brownies or candy” or “Look, if you really want chips, you can have them!! But first, let’s allow this intense craving for them subside a little so that it won’t turn out to be a full-out binge.” I might even have to grab a couple of ice cubes in my hand to reawaken the connection between my racing mind and my body. The key principle here is engaging mindfulness and trying to relax as much as possible.
3. Keeping busy throughout the day has also been very important since it leaves less time for me to dwell on negativity and unhealthy eating habits. Also, I gain a fulfilling sense of having been productive that day.
4. Choosing healthy, satisfying foods at meal time. Some of my favorite filling foods are things like beans, eggs, avocados, pasta, canned tuna, and oatmeal. Drinking plenty of fluids is also helpful towards my recovery since it keeps me hydrated and allows me to more clearly distinguish real hunger as opposed to an emotionally driven desire to eat.
5. Incorporating moderate levels of exercise. As a person, I tend to have an ‘all or nothing’ mentality towards a lot of things in my life. So it has taken me some time to be able to work out to make me feel healthy without thinking things like “I must burn 600 calories before I can leave the gym.” The key here is to be gentle with your body.
6. And finally, having access to outside support. Even though I do not seek the support of others while I may be at the peak of an urge, I still talk to someone at the end of each day to tell them about my successes and failures. Being able to have someone be there has helped immensely to solidify feelings of success as well as move away from feelings of failure and hopelessness.
So that’s what I’ve come up with so far. I initially wrote this in my personal journal but I thought that I’d share just in case it may help someone else in their journey towards recovery :)
*Please do not see this as me creating strategies to avoid eating when I am hungry. I never, ever do that..if I am hungry I always eat something. These strategies are to be used when you feel stressed or anxious and are looking for help avoiding unhealthy coping mechanism involving food.