We live in toxic environment for eating disorder recovery. We are constantly bombarded with media messages that thinness equals perfection, success and beauty. Add that to our own relentless negative self talk that we are not good enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, and just not enough can take a toll on fragile tools of recovery. Here are the top 5 ways to prevent relapse.
1. Avoid the scale. Weighing, for most people, is a surefire way to slide the slippery slope to relapse. Most people struggling with eating disorders, distortions and low body esteem are likely to misinterpret their weight, regardless if their weight is higher or lower than expected. If their weight is higher than expected, feelings of being out of control, self loathing and body hatred are common. This can lead to more food restriction and excessive exercise. Sometimes weighing can trigger overeating. The person struggling with the eating disorder may feel so frustrated and defeated, they end up over or binge eating. This may go on for days or months until the next cycle of restricting.
If weight is lower than expected, the reward center of the brain does a happy dance. Fireworks explode and the Hallelujah chorus breaks out….until the person with the eating disorder looks down. “Hmmmm, one more pound and my stomach will be flat.” And thus begins the never ending quest for perfection.
2. Avoid “Recovery” Instagram, Tumblr, and similar sites. These so-called recovery accounts are another quick route to a rocky recovery. These sites typically advertise a person’s lowest weight, goal weight, current weight and pictures of stomachs, thighs and food. Is it really helpful to know all of this information? Those struggling with eating disorders tend to be a competitive group and these pictures are an invitation to relapse. Some of my clients also find talking about recovery or reading recovery books or blogs can be triggering. The authors often tell stories about the worst of times in the midst of their eating disorder which can lead my clients to minimize their own issues with food and body image. Perhaps even worse, my clients feel they are “failing recovery.”
3. Follow your meal plan. If you are in recovery from an eating disorder it is probably safe to assume that your hunger and fullness cues are faulty. Continued under eating causes hunger cues to disappear. Additionally depression and anxiety can lower hunger and appetite. Continued overeating creates an increased hunger. Most people in recovery need to use a meal plan as their guide for at least a year before embarking intuitive eating. Meal plans teach normal eating habits and skills that need to be relearned before doing it on your own. Meal plans normalize eating and even after hunger cues return, they provide a foundation for eating intuitively, the ultimate goal.
4. Not practicing daily gratitude. Need an attitude change? Try listing the things you are grateful for. Even negatives can turn into positives with perspective. For example, are you hating your body? Be thankful that you have a body and that you can walk, run and laugh. Gratitude can help shift values and broaden ideas.
Article submitted by R.S.
When my friend texted me upset after trying on clothes, my first reaction was to giggle. Obvious I felt sad she was going through a rough time, no that is NOT why I laughed! Basically, I had that urge to just laugh because who among us has not been brought to tears in a dressing room.
There’s some nice ones, granted, but most are pretty darn bad, and the ones that are bad, tend to be really really bad.
Why? Um, hello–crappy lighting, tilted mirrors that make you look wider and distorted, everything on display, you’re trying on a bunch of different sizes (in a world with vanity sizing, no less). You would think retailers would have figured this out by now and have nice dressing ones, but even the big names don’t always nail it. And if it sucks at some high-end boutique or department store, it only gets worse when you are in some cheap, trashy store like Forever 21 (don’t get me wrong–I love it, but face it, that dress will last you about half a wear)–everything ends up being cramped and hot and sweaty. GROSS.
A suggestion I’ve heard is simply avoid them at all costs. With online shopping and places that have and easy return policy, sure, this might be a great idea. But that isn’t always the most affordable, feasible, or sometimes even possible option. Soooo, when you absolutely most face the dreaded dressing room, here’s some tips:
“I don’t eat all day but I still can’t lose weight!” If this describes you, then you may benefit by having your metabolic rate measured. Metabolism is a complex system of hormones and enzymes that converts food into fuel and determines how efficiently that fuel is burned. The process of metabolism determines the rate at which we burn our calories which, ultimately, affects how quickly we gain weight or how easily we lose weight.
Metabolism is influenced by many factors. Some of the factors that we cannot control include genetics, gender (males burn calories faster than females), and age (metabolism slows down about 5% per decade after age 40). The factors that we can control include the way we eat and exercise. Here are the facts to increase your metabolic rate:
One of the most frequent questions I am asked is “how much should I weigh?” There is no one formula, graph or chart to answer this question. Instead a number of factors are used to determine a healthy weight range for every individual. Listed below are some of these factors:
Pam Chin-Lai, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD specializes in the nutritional rehabilitation of eating disorders in children, adolescents and adults.