13 Strategies to Overcome Eating Disorders
Disordered eating is a difficult topic to approach, not least of all because most people with eating disorders remain silent about it. To a non-professional, the qualifications for “officially” having an eating disorder aren’t clear. Having an eating disorder doesn’t necessarily mean you’re under a certain body fat percentage, or only eat 500 calories per day. Eating disorders come, literally, in all shapes and sizes.
Two of our coaches recently discussed their history with eating disorders and how it affects them to this day. Coaches Jessie and Mary talked about the methods that worked best for them in order to overcome their eating disorders, eat healthy, and nourish their minds and their bodies.
By simply teaching you to live in the moment, yoga has positive effects on the mind and the body. When Jessie is feeling frustrated or unhappy with herself, her yoga practice becomes a healthy outlet for these emotions.
2. Workout as Therapy
Much like yoga, working out provides a positive, healthy way to cope with stressful emotions. You may not be able to control feelings of self-doubt or negativity, but you are able to channel these emotions into something positive and beneficial.
3. Mindful Intentions
Starting your morning, your workday, or even just your commute with a positive intention can change the tone of the rest of your day. The intention doesn’t need to be poetic and spiritual if that’s not your style. An intention as simple as “I intend to make someone smile today” is enough to cause a change in your outlook.
4. Positive Self Talk
Along with having mindful intentions, remember to be nice to yourself. You would never tell someone you love that they’re fat, or worthless, or that they’re a failure. Every single human that is and ever was is valuable and priceless, including you. Practice telling yourself that you are worthy of love, that you are loved, and these positive thoughts will nourish your soul.
Coach Mary and her husband like to end each day naming the things in their lives that they are thankful for. Being grateful for something as simple as having beautiful weather that day sets a positive trend within yourself. Those nagging, negative thoughts will never fully disappear, but when you’re intentionally grateful for all the positives in your life, the negative thoughts feel much less scary and overwhelming.
6. Understand, you are not alone
Have you ever thought that your personal trainer, who looks amazingly fit and always seems to be comfortable in her body, battles feelings of guilt every time she eats a slice of bread? Or that guy you always see in the gym, the one that looks like he was sculpted from marble, looks in the mirror for hours agonizing over a stomach he thinks is still “too flabby”? When you’re battling an eating disorder, it seems impossible that anyone else could feel the way you do; everyone else seems so normal, so happy, so well-adjusted. The truth is, we all have secrets about our inner thoughts, about what we do when no one else is around.
7. Get Educated
Education is one of the most powerful tools you can wield when overcoming an eating disorder. Many people develop their eating disorders because they think it’s the only way to overcome their problems, or lose weight, or feel good about themselves. Fortunately, there are so many different avenues of education, whether it be through your local health club, your physician, or through an online support group.
8. Ask for Help
The strongest, most successful people did not reach the top by themselves. There is no shame in asking for help. There is no shame in admitting you have an eating disorder. Every person needs help at some point in their lives, and you are no different.
9. Be accountable to someone you trust
Coping with and overcoming an eating disorder is a burden that no person should bear alone. Both Mary and Jessie explain that opening up to someone they trust was a significant step in their healing process. Being accountable to someone means you are not the only one looking out for yourself. You have someone on your side who’s going to make sure you ate enough today, who will remind you of your mindful intentions when you’re feeling down, and who wants to see you succeed.
10. Surround yourself with inspiring people
It is important to be aware of who you spend time with, because those people will be your greatest influence. Choose to spend time with inspiring, supportive people. There may come a time when you need to distance yourself from loved ones who don’t understand your eating disorder. No matter what, it’s a painful, heartbreaking process, but by having a positive support group, you can always be sure that you have someone to turn to during those difficult milestones.
11. Inspire Others
By choosing to inspire other people, you accept responsibility to lead by example. Mary says that knowing she is an inspiration to her clients motivates her to continue on her wellness journey. Much like positive self-talk, inspiring other people helps you to see your own value.
12. Enjoy the process
Setting goals is necessary if you want to overcome your eating disorder. However, there needs to be a plan, a process. The process is difficult. It might mean dragging yourself out of bed when you’d rather bury yourself in the covers and cry. You will push your limits. You will have setbacks. But you’ll also have days where you realize you didn’t look in the mirror once. You’ll eat a piece of chocolate without calculating how many miles you’ll have to run later to make up for it. Celebrate those little milestones, enjoy every step forward, and you’ll find that the process of working towards your goals is just as rewarding as reaching them.
13. Love yourself
Most importantly, overcoming your eating disorder means falling back in love with yourself. YOU are the most important person in your life, and it is your birthright to be happy and healthy. Loving yourself doesn’t mean you are conceited or self-absorbed. Loving yourself is the only way to sustain a happy, healthy mind, body, and spirit. Love yourself and the rest will follow.
If you believe you have an eating disorder, you deserve to be taken seriously. For resources, treatment options, and support, click here.