From 24th February - 2nd March is Eating Disorders Awareness Week
To end this week I would like to share my insights into how it is possible to break the cycle of disordered eating and recover.
Breaking The Cycle
Identify your Triggers for Disordered Eating
Triggers could be anything in your day-to-day life, which sets of disordered eating. So for example, feeling stressed from work, being lonely, having an argument, or even seeing someone who from your perspective is more successful could be triggers.
Keeping a diary of events around disordered eating can help to identify your triggers.
Create a set of Distraction Techniques to Prevent Disordered Eating
In the early stages, try to avoid triggers as much as possible but the aim is to build confidence so that triggers can be challenged and faced without relapsing. To help with this process use distraction techniques by making a list of things to do to prevent disordered eating.
Your distraction list should be a range of positive activities to do.
Tune into what works for you
- Phone a friend
- Go out for a walk
- Listen to music
- Do crosswords, puzzles or play a game
- Read inspirational sayings:- great for writing on small cards to take with you
- Do something creative like drawing, taking pictures or even painting your nails
Once you have got your list make sure you keep it with you and that you have access to at least 1 or 2 items on this list. This will take some forward planning for situations when you are out and about.
My daughter created her own set of beautifully decorated inspirational cards. She took these with her and read them whenever she felt triggered by anorexia. Other distraction tactics she used included: writing in a journal, word puzzles, painting her nails, listening to music, watching a film and using aromatherapy scents and candles.
Use Positive ways to Release Stress and Tension
Help the mind relax by using positive ways to release stress and tension.
This could something as simple as:
- Going out for a walk
- Spending time in the garden or in nature
- Listening to relaxing music
- Talking to a friend
- Taking a soothing bath
- Breathing exercises
- Gentle exercise like yoga or tai chi
- Meditation and prayer
The Bach flower remedy known as 'rescue remedy' is also useful to help calm stress.
I personally found reflexology very helpful for my daughter to relax and release tension.
Get Support with Resolving Nutritional, Digestive and Elimination Imbalances within the Body
Nutritional support is vital to rebalance blood sugar management. Balanced blood sugar is key to resolving all eating disorders. Imbalanced blood sugar triggers cravings, affects emotions, mood and mental thinking.
Individuals with eating disorders will have imbalances presenting within their digestive system. For example, dehydration is always present and gut flora is imbalanced which raises gut toxicity and depresses immunity. As a result physical, emotional and mental health suffers.
Elimination of waste from the body is often imbalanced and will also be raising toxicity levels. Support is required to make sure that the colon, kidneys, skin and liver in particular are not overloaded as this will contribute to disordered eating.
Understand the Real Issues behind the Eating Disorders
Once triggers for disordered eating are identified then the next stage involves understanding the underlying issues.
This will help you to become a lot more compassionate and understanding with yourself.
So for example, being home alone may trigger disordered eating. However the underlying issues could be 'I'm bored with my life', 'I don't know what to do', 'I feel empty', 'I'm scared of going out', 'I'm afraid of what people will think of me' and so on
This is usually painful but try to view this process like watching a movie and maintain a level of detachment and objectivity from it.
I strongly recommend that you get support with this process to help you work through your stuff at a pace which is suited for you. Think of the process like peeling an onion, as you uncover and learn something new about yourself this often reveals another deeper layer to explore and uncover. This is where talking-based therapies like counselling are useful to be able to explore and express yourself in a safe, non-judgemental environment.
To explore the subconscious mind, use activities which activate the right-side of the brain like art, drama, dance and music. Use what works for you, everyone is different but this approach can be very helpful to identify, express and release your emotions and triggers. My daughter used art and music as a way to express her inner thoughts and emotions about anorexia.
Get Help and Support with Dealing with Issues rather than Using Food.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a form of talking therapy. It focuses on how you think about the things going on in your life – your thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes (your cognitive processes) – and how this impacts on the way you behave and deal with emotional problems. It then looks at how you can change any negative patterns of thinking or behaviour that may be causing you difficulties. In turn, this can change the way you feel. CBT helps to re-train the mind by replacing irrational thoughts and associations with more positive thoughts and behaviours. CBT's structured approach helps with problem-solving and breaking down issues so that they become more manageable.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is another helpful therapy which helps to clear negative thoughts and associations. It works by tapping on specific energetic acupuncture points where emotions are trapped whilst voicing positive affirmations. If you have been reading my earlier blogs this week, I have talked about the emotions linking to specific organs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Each organ has its own energetic pathway known as a meridian. The combination of stimulating specific points within the energy meridians and sounding positive affirmation helps to clear the emotional block from the body's bio-energetic system. Have a look at this informative article by Dr Mercola about EFT and how to do it
Where to get Help
Your GP should be able to get you in touch with specialist services which deal with eating disorders. For other therapies like EFT, CBT, Bach Flower, etc, have a look at the professional bodies for each therapy and they will be able to direct you to a suitably qualified practitioner near you. For nutritional support or further information contact me.
Above all, let go of blaming yourself for not being strong enough to break this pattern. There are many levels of imbalance which need to be resolved to successfully recover from eating disorders.
If you are suffering with an eating disorder, I hope that this information and my insights have been useful.
Contact me if you want some further information or would like to share your story about eating disorders.