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5 Tips to Recover from Body-Image Issues and Eating Disorders

Eating food is an integral part of our day-to-day lives. Through cooking and sharing meals, we can enjoy each other’s company. We get to try out a brand-new restaurant with a great friend or post a picture of a delicious meal on social media. While many people love the way food tastes and how it brings us together, others view eating and food as oppressive.


We tie in eating with weight and worry obsessively about how much we ingest. We may struggle with overeating, undereating, or compulsive exercise. Some may even suffer from bulimia or anorexia, which are common eating disorders. If you or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder or body issues, you know how hard recovery can be. Here are some best practices to make the recovery process easier.



1. List Behaviors That Are Unhealthy

Everyone who suffers from eating disorders and body image issues struggles with unhealthy behaviors and compulsions. Hiding food, overeating, throwing up, bingeing, or starving yourself are all examples. Other people choose to compulsively exercise to burn off extra calories.


Regardless of the type of negative behavior, these all tend to impact one’s life in a detrimental way. The first step of recovery is admitting that you have a problem. This requires listing all of the negative behaviors that you want to overcome.


2. Find the Why

There’s usually a reason why we turn to negative behaviors, including eating disorders. Maybe you grew up in a house where others perceived food in a negative light. Or, you may have had a mother who was insecure with her weight and verbalized this discomfort regularly. Maybe you feel out of control in other areas of your life or are not happy in your relationship. Or perhaps you were teased as a child about your weight, and continue to view yourself the way others once viewed you.


Either way, finding the reason for our eating/body image issues is the only way we can overcome them. We can work with a therapist or body image expert who can help us identify and recognize the lies in our faulty thinking patterns. Then, we can begin to address those issues head-on and prevent them from affecting our day-to-day eating.


3. List What You Want

What would you do if your food issues and body image problems weren’t holding you back? What goals do you have? How would you interact with others? What would you spend your time thinking about? How would you view yourself? Answering these questions can help you recognize how much benefit there is to let these negative behaviors go.


You can then work with a therapist to create a plan of action and achieve your dreams. You should also list several positive hobbies or activities that you can learn or work on that have nothing to do with eating or food. This will help you focus your attention on other areas of life and find creative ways to express yourself.


4. Practice Positive Self-Dialogue

A lot of the reason we feel insecure about our bodies and eating is that we talk negatively to ourselves. We beat ourselves up for every food choice and put labels on certain foods to make them “off-limits.” We need to start seeing ourselves as human beings who are not defined by the eating choices that we make.


Start paying attention to your negative thoughts and writing them down. Then, replace each one with a positive thought and repeat it to yourself. Continue this exercise until the more positive, realistic thought becomes the immediate response. It is amazing how much you can change your thinking habits with a little bit of practice and discipline.


5. Be Patient in Your Recovery

Recovery from food and body image issues takes time. You have to do a lot of work with a therapist and change the way you think about yourself and eating. You are going to have days where things go wrong, or where you feel like you are falling short. Don’t be alarmed by these minor setbacks or consider them grounds for failure.


Remember that recovery is a process and is not about perfection. As long as you continue to move in the right direction, you are doing the right thing. Above all, be kind and gentle to yourself.


Do you struggle with eating disorders or body image issues? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.

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