Seven ways to help you break free from an eating problem
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Harriet Frew
15th April, 20150 Comments
Sometimes when you have been wedded to your control of food through dieting, restricting, weighing, eliminating food groups or super-healthy eating, the thought of losing this might be daunting. And as part of you loathes the ‘other side of the problem’ through the release and escape experienced from overeating, bingeing, stuffing, having the freedom to eat whatever you want in unlimited amounts, you might have extremely mixed feelings about letting this go.
You might regularly express your want and desire to be unleashed from the shackles of your eating disorder. You well may despise and loathe the riot and destruction that it can run through your daily life. Simultaneously, the thought of stepping off the edge of the cliff into the unknown territory of ‘getting better’ possibly feels terrifying.
You may wonder, what will replace your reliance and security that you gain from food?
Who will you be without this focus on eating and the body?
How will you cope without having this ‘friend’ to accompany you through daily struggles?
What will happen to your weight; will you balloon and become unrecognisable?
Will a waterfall of emotion come forth and drown you as you open the door a little crack?
Will you wants, needs and desires seem overwhelming and unmanageable for yourself and others?
You can see that it might well be expected that you feel in two minds about giving up your eating problem. This is why it is almost nigh impossible to escape an eating disorder through sheer willpower or just eating a bit more or a bit less or going on some new-fangled regime. Your eating problem is the friend who is always there. The one you can depend on and is yours alone to control. You can shut out the world and escape to planet binge or planet restrict where you are unreachable and temporarily at peace from expectations and pressure. You can feel a sense of achievement and purpose as you take control of your weight and see the number change on the scales. You can dissociate from emotions and feel almost unreachable and untouchable for periods of time, being numb and shut off. Although questionable, you might also feel that these behaviours give you control of your weight.
This is why the prospect of change can feel difficult. So how to fully embrace change?
Seven tips for getting motivated and staying on track with change
1. People often ask, is recovery really possible? I would say yes, and you need to really want it; believe it and be prepared to work at it. If you think you are stuck and feel helpless and re-run this old dialogue in your head numerous times a day, you are going to feel caught in a trap. Do not see your eating habits as something that you will be living with forever. Hold on to real hope and a vision of a life free from them. Seek out case studies, inspirational books, moving blogs and recovery stories to help build your confidence and assurance that life can be different.
2. As you recover, of course, life still has its problems and obstacles to overcome. You will be experiencing this first-hand and not escaping through food. This might be quite painful to start with. Begin to see yourself as a resilient and capable human being who will cope and manage. You don’t have to take on everything at once. You can slowly expand your comfort zone and gradually build confidence again. You can do it.
3. Get real about everything you are losing through a destructive relationship with food. How is it impacting your relationships? Your work? Your daily routines and how you feel about yourself? You are undoubtedly losing a great deal.
4. Don’t expect too much too soon. You probably took a while to get to this point, do not expect an overnight transformation.
5. Get some goals and dreams down on paper that inspire and motivate you to be healthy, self-caring and full of energy. Disordered eating takes up buckets loads of time. Moving away from it will allow you time to embark on expressing your true self and learning about what brings you joy.
6. Be proactive in getting support. Ask people around you for the help you need. Join a support group if this is your thing. Seek out a buddy or someone who has been through this or in a similar phase of wanting to get well; you can then support each other.
7. Never ever give up hope. Desire to live your life to the fullest.
If you are feeling stuck in an eating problem and have some fears about change, therapy can provide a safe space to talk about your concerns and offer you support as you begin the recovery journey. Please do get in touch with one of the counsellors on the Directory if you feel ready to take this step.
About the author
Harriet Frew is a counsellor, blogger, writer and enthusiast in supporting people with eating disorders. She has worked in the NHS; private practice and in the voluntary sector; working in the field since 1999. Harriet now works privately in Cambridge and at Weight Matters in London.
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