Overcoming an eating disorder is an accomplishment that some people struggle with for years. Breaking free from the restraints of an eating disorder will give you a fresh start, improve your relationship with food and help you live a happier, healthy life.
Three of the most types of eating disorders include:
- Anorexia nervosa: Commonly known as anorexia, this eating disorder is characterized by dieting and restricting foot intake to an extreme degree. If you suffer from anorexia, you may also experience intense fear of gaining weight, body dysmorphia, obsessive thoughts over your weight and body type and lack of recognition of the severity of your health condition if underweight or malnourished. Anorexia can quickly take over your thoughts, feelings and life, and if severe enough, your body will begin to slow down to conserve energy. The cause of the anorexia eating disorder is complex, and often cannot be traced back to one single factor. The myriad risk factors include mental health challenges, body image issues, environmental pressures, genetic predisposition and family history.
- Bulimia nervosa: Bulimia nervosa, or bulimia, is characterized by episodes of binge eating large amounts of food in a short amount of time followed by episodes of purging or otherwise attempting to prevent weight gain. Purging activities can include self-induced vomiting after meals, using laxatives or diuretics and exercising excessively in order to burn calories. Bulimia prevents you from properly digesting food, which makes excessive exercise and the use of laxatives particularly dangerous.
- Binge eating disorder: Binge eating disorder is characterized by eating large amounts of food in a short amount of time, and oftentimes eating alone to this effect, to the point of feeling uncomfortably full. You may feel a lack of control to stop your binges, followed by feeling guilt or shame after you have binged. Binge eating disorder is twofold: it is first marked by consuming excessive amounts of food and is followed by negative mental health symptoms like guilt, shame and disgust.
There are a number of other eating disorders, but anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder are among the most widespread. All forms of eating disorders can be dangerous and even fatal if left untreated.
How to break free from anorexia and other eating disorders
In many cases, an eating disorder takes shape from an intense, life-changing event. Whether this be from a traumatic experience or a toxic friend or family member, it’s important to figure out the cause. This can be rather difficult to think about; reliving the event that lead to such a dark time is never easy. Once you have identified the potential root cause of your eating disorder, you can take tangible steps towards freeing yourself and thriving in recovery.
Commit yourself to your recovery
Ultimately, you need to make the decision that you want to get better. The first step of eating disorder recovery is admitting that you need help. No parent, friend, spouse or partner can make this decision for you. If you are forced into eating disorder treatment or don’t feel like you have a problem, you won’t feel like you have the power to live a happier, healthier life. Recognizing that you struggle with anorexia or another eating disorder is scary, but committing yourself to making positive changes will help you stay accountable to the goals you want to achieve.
Lean in to your support system
Going through such a pivotal life change is tough to do alone. Through these times it’s important to have a support system in place. Whether it be the support of a family member, close friend or through therapy, having a go to person is critical. Being able to talk about the good parts of your day, vent about the not so good parts, or even having a shoulder to cry on will help get you through the variety of emotions you have when treating an eating disorder.
Integrate mindful eating
Mindful eating, at its core, is the practice of being present while eating. The practice borrows philosophies from mindfulness in that it focuses on being aware in the present moment, noticing your intention behind the act of eating and appreciating your thoughts, feelings and sensations while eating.
Mindful eating benefits both your mind and body, which necessarily means it can benefit your recovery. By being present while eating and appreciating the food you put into your body, you will start to see food as something to be enjoyed rather than a source of shame or negativity. Committing to mindful eating can also help you explore new recipes and ingredients that excite you, and you may even find a new hobby in cooking.
Seeds of Hope can provide you with tools to help break free from your eating disorder. If you believe that you or someone you know would benefit from eating disorders treatment, contact us at 610-644-6464.