Throughout the months, or perhaps years, of your struggle with an eating disorder, the thought of food played a large role in your daily habits. It influences certain behaviors, put up walls to keep emotions out, and may have controlled whether or not you attended social gatherings.
If you’re looking to take healthy steps toward a meaningful relationship with food, you’re taking the first step to a healthier lifestyle. The path to recovery may be difficult to face, but it is worth the hardship. During recovery, you may find that you are facing similar fears of food you faced during active disordered eating.
Face your fears
Certain foods, conversation topics or introducing food groups to your diet may all be fears you never wanted to face. They may even trigger an emotional response. You may have thought “I’ll face those fears when I’m no longer afraid.” You may have experienced frustration when that perfect moment of complete fearlessness never came, feeling like you were waiting around for something that was entirely out of reach.
That, however, is the reality of true recovery: There is never a perfect moment, but if you start today, tomorrow will be an entirely new chapter in your story. It is only when we face what scares us that we are able to retrain our brains to learn that food is not scary, and is something that we can embrace for enjoyment, nourishment and freedom.
Eating for nourishment
Prior to entering recovery, there may have been a specific diet fad you stuck to, whether that was a specific caloric intake, elimination diet or trendy fasting regime. During recovery, however, the basis of eating is founded upon giving your body the nutrients it needs to work efficiently.
It is important to nourish your body with whole foods as much as possible in recovery. Whole foods provide the body with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients it’s been lacking. When you give your body these whole foods, vital organs are restored to efficient and effective functioning. Avoid processed foods as the body is forced to work harder to extract what little nutrients these foods contain.
Every meal plan in recovery will look different based on what your nutritionist recommends. It is important to listen to their recommendations on how to effectively take in the nutrients that your body needs.
If you are recovering from a binge-eating disorder, it is important to stay away from triggers that affect you. If there is a particular food that you crave and are tempted to binge eat, such as ice cream or potato chips, try keeping those triggers out of the house to prevent relapse. Instead, try going to an ice cream shop for a single serving, or getting chips on the side of a well-balanced meal. No foods should be off limits; eating in moderation is key.
When recovering from bulimia and/or anorexia, it can be difficult to control your inner thoughts. Body shaming yourself and incessant thoughts of “feeling fat” can take you back down the road to an eating disorder. When thoughts like this enter your mind and begin to become overwhelming, focus on the benefits of treating your body with care through food and exercise that will bring you long-term health and happiness.
Try to engage in a positive activity that will improve your body image, such as making a list of things that you like about yourself. This can distract you from negative thoughts and keep you safe from a downward spiral.
No matter which eating disorder you are recovering from make sure you do something every day that brings you joy. Read a book, spend time outside, watch a movie or dance to your favorite song. No matter the activity, take a fun break from your daily routine to root yourself in the gifts of the present moment.
Recovery from relapse
Recovery is difficult to face, and the possibility of relapse may be daunting. The pitfalls on the road to recovery might be scary, but it is important to keep in mind that relapse does not mean failure. On the contrary: relapse gives you another chance to achieve your desired outcome.
A few signs that indicate relapse are:
- Constant thoughts of food, dieting and/or weight;
- Believing you’ll never be happy unless you are thin;
- Seeing yourself as overweight or obese;
- Skipping meals;
- Avoiding food related events.
If you are experiencing any of these symptom(s) seek professional help immediately. If you are already seeing a professional, let them know how you are feeling. Bringing these symptoms to light will help your therapist and/or nutritionist adjust treatment to what better suits your lifestyle in order to prevent relapse altogether.
Seeds of Hope is here to help. Contact us today to begin your road to recovery at 610-644-6464. Talk with a professional and create a recovery plan based on your needs.