An eating disorder is more than just feeling hungry or full, it’s about making sure your body looks the right way and perfection is the goal.
Some people develop eating disorders at a young age when their bodies start to look less and less like those of adults. Kids who suffer from this problem are sometimes called “ongrowth” teens because their child-like features grow thinner as they eat less.
Other times, people develop eating disorders later in life after trying to match some idealized image of what someone else said was beautiful. Sometimes, these individuals feel that their skin gets thicker or heavier as they overcompensate by eating more.
Whatever the cause, most people agree that eating too thin is uncomfortable to watch and can have negative effects on health. If you recognize symptoms in yourself, talk to your doctor about how to help.
But for many people, recovery takes much longer than needed. This is particularly true if the person suffering from the disease doesn’t seek professional help.
Fortunately, there are things you can do at home to help restore balance to your diet and mood. While this won’t make up for lost time with treatment, it can help you cope while you work towards getting better.
Reminder: Although not every case of eating disorder requires professional intervention, early diagnosis and treatment is always the best approach.
Create a food diary
A food diary is a way to track your eating habits in detail. You can use it as a tool for helping you recover from your eating disorder, or if you ever feel hungry, you can refer back to it to see what you were doing earlier.
A food diary doesn’t have to be very long – even one sentence will do! Make sure to include the following details:
What foods you ate
How much you eat of each food
Any symptoms you may have been experiencing while eating
Any thoughts or feelings related to food
You don’t need to add every minute detail about your day, but thinking ahead to make a week’s worth of meals can help get started. Once you have this initial start, you can expand upon it as needed.
Record your exercise habits
The next step in recovery is recognizing what exercises are helping you feel better and what are not.
Look at your reactions to eating
Recent developments in understanding emotional eating have helped us understand why you may eat more than usual when you feel stressed or uncomfortable.
When you are exposed to stress, your body responds by looking for ways to cope. It can help you take action to reduce the source of the stress or avoid things that might cause additional stress.
This response is totally normal and helps you stay healthy. However, if this coping mechanism becomes too powerful, it can contribute to feelings and behaviors related to anxiety or depression.
Tracy was able to recognize her habit of eating as a way to deal with stress. But once she made changes to eliminate sources of stress, her eating stopped being appropriate.
She realized that what she needed was professional help to address her underlying fears and worries. Luckily, there are many resources available to treat eating disorders.
Practice relaxation techniques
In addition to learning how to recognize your symptoms, you will want to learn some simple relaxation skills.
Practice these strategies whenever you feel hungry or tempted to eat more than necessary- even for one minute at a time. You can also practice them before you go to bed so that it is easier to relax once again the next day.
Some of the most effective ways to reduce eating tension include practicing any of the following:
* Breathing exercises
* Body scanning (looking from head to foot in short intervals)
* Thinking of something relaxing
* Imagining yourself enjoying food later
These are all helpful in reducing pre-eating anxiety and making it possible to enjoy your meals less vigorously. It may take several days until you find what works for you, but don’t give up!
Once you have mastered this technique, you can apply those same principles to other areas of your life. For example, you could use these tools to help you relax before a night out with friends, or before a job interview.
Disclaimer: The content of this article should not be used as medical advice for diagnosing or treating eating disorders. Rather, it offers general tips that may or may not work for different people with different problems. As such, no information here should be considered specific enough to actually treat someone’s issue.
This article was written by Marie Curie, last updated February 21, 2018.
Connect with a therapist
Finding a good counselor that can help you work through your eating disorder is very important, but unfortunately, this isn’t easy in the beginning stages. It takes time to find someone who makes you feel comfortable and able to talk about things.
Finding a good counselor that can help you work through your eating disorder is very important, but unfortunately, this isn’t easy in the initial stage. It takes time to find someone who makes you feel comfortable and able to talk about things.
It’s also difficult because most people don’t understand what it means to have an eating disorder. Most of them think that if you want to eat too much or even binge-eat, then you must have an eating disorder.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Only around 10 percent of individuals will develop an ED after developing an understanding of how food affects their body and themselves.
For the rest of us, eating enough food is one of the main ways we cope with stress. When we are stressed, like when our life is going up in chaos, we turn to food as a way to calm down.
When we are hungry, we tend to crave foods that are rich in carbs and fat. This is why there are so many junk foods available for us to choose from.
Seek a nutritionist
While professional help is great, not everyone has access to it or needs it. Many health professionals now offer online tools and resources as self-help treatments for eating disorders.
These tools can be helpful in educating you about your disorder so that you understand what symptoms you are experiencing and how to treat them.
By learning more about your disease, you will also learn how to manage your moods and emotions related to food.
You do not need formal training as a dietician, psychologist, or psychiatrist to use these programs. Some of the most successful ones have easy interfaces and intuitive design layouts which make using them simple.
There are many free apps available as well as paid versions that have robust features and personalization options.
Work with a personal trainer
Working with a professional coach or personal trainer can be a great way to recover from your eating disorder. They can help you learn how to manage your diet, exercise, and other areas of your life in order to maintain healthy relationships and productivity.
Tracy is a good example of this. As mentioned before, she was very conscious about her body and would often make attempts to lose weight by going on extreme diets. She would then struggle to keep that weight off because she was subconsciously trying to prove something to herself about her value as a person.
Her coaches helped her recognize some of these behaviors and gave her strategies for replacing them with healthier ones. They also taught her how to relax about food and her body so that she could enjoy eating foods that she wanted to eat instead of feeling obligated to do things on a budget.
By learning more effective ways to cope with your emotions, her trainers were able to help her work through some major stressors in her life. All of this contributed to her recovery and allowed her to move forward with her life.
Enforce healthy eating habits
Even if you feel that your loved one has recovered, you still need to make changes to ensure this doesn’t happen again. You can do these things right away or you can wait until they show signs of recovery before changing anything.
However, it is important to be aware that some symptoms may reoccur even after someone says they no longer have an eating disorder. For example, people with bulimia often experience frequent hunger which could lead to them experiencing binging soon afterwards.
There are also treatments available for those who suffer from binge-eating disorder. While they don’t cure the underlying causes of their disease, CBT and other types of psychotherapy can help you learn how to cope with emotional triggers and prevent overeating or weight gain.
If you think your loved one needs professional help, there are several good resources available. They will likely ask you to let them know if you notice any warning signs so they can get the most appropriate level of care.