Recovering from an eating disorder, or ED, takes place over some time and in small steps. There is no fast track for relearning your relationship with food. Each day is a step closer to being fit and healthy. That is a significant accomplishment. Every goal you reach is significant and should be celebrated. No matter how big or small the victory, it is essential to acknowledge your hard work. By celebrating each goal reached, you will increase self-efficacy, self-esteem and reinforce positive thinking. A 2017 paper from the University of Washington reported a direct link between eating disorders and self-esteem.
Every victory counts. You might feel tempted to ignore small achievements like finishing your last meal or avoiding the scale for a day, but every success is another piece of proof you can point at when self-doubt and anxieties try to take over. Eventually, you will reach a point where you are achieving things you once thought impossible. Change starts small but accumulates over time.
Practice Self-Validation Every Day
To change your behavior, you need to change the way that you think about yourself and your relationship with food. One way you can do that is by practicing self-validation so that your brain stops automatically thinking negatively about food.
Below are a few examples of positive or neutral ways you can validate your experience in the context of eating and weight.
- “Food is okay.”
- “Eating full servings keeps me healthy.”
- “Being healthy lets me do more things that I love.”
- “I am eating more, and that is okay.”
- “I feel better after finishing a meal.”
- “It is easier to think and focus when I eat all my meals.”
You can work with your therapist to find the phrases that work for you. Use them to stay motivated.
Identifying Your Next ED Recovery Goal
You can use stretch-goals or come up with new areas you want to improve. One thing to keep in mind is that there is no time limit for recovery. When choosing a new goal, make sure it is both realistic and something that can build off the successes you have already achieved. That will help you grow confidence. When trying to figure out your next move in ED recovery, it can be helpful to write down a list of the big picture and small picture things you want to fix. Below are some examples.
- Big Picture: reframe your thoughts about food so that they are neutral or positive instead of negative.
- Small Picture: go out to eat with a friend and complete a whole serving.
Work together with your therapist to determine what motivation to use and which goal to tackle next. An outside perspective can give you a healthier idea of what direction to head in.
How to Keep the Momentum Going
You can use a food diary or app to track your goals and progress. A tracker allows you to see how close you are to finishing your next one and will give you time to come up with an appropriate way to celebrate it. You can work with your therapist to come up with a food-related way to memorialize the event. Include friends and family who have supported you in your recovery. By openly discussing and sharing your progress, you might find it easier to maintain forward momentum. Having others around you cheering you on can make a world of difference.
Be Open and Honest with Your Therapist
It isn’t easy to open up about personal things. Especially subjects that make us feel raw inside when we look at them too closely. Eating disorders are incredibly private, and opening up with a virtual stranger does not come naturally for most people. Whether you have been seeing the same therapist for a decade or are brand new to therapy, you should be open and honest. That includes sharing victories as well as worries and concerns. Your therapist is an integral part of your support system, and they should be aware of any changes that take place, good and bad alike, regarding any issues you are working through together. By being honest with your therapist, you can gain validation from another trusted source.
Take It One Day at a Time
Not every day is going to be a success, and that is okay. You will have your list of good days to look back on to get you through the more challenging moments. The important thing is to lift yourself up and use small victories to keep you motivated and moving forward.
Recovery from any form of negative behavior comes with small steps forward in your progress that may be easy to miss in the bigger picture. Try not to let the little victories pass you by without acknowledging and celebrating. They are proof that you are making progress in your healing, and you can use them to validate your self-efficacy. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we believe in holistic care and treatment, which includes learning healthy eating habits. Eating disorders are multilayered in cause and effect. When combined with another diagnosis, it can feel overwhelming, but there is hope in long-term recovery. Learn to develop lasting, positive eating patterns that will improve your mental and physical health. Everlast Recovery Centers is here to help you continue healing. We want to support you through your next ED victory. Contact us today for more information about the services we offer by calling (866) 338-6925.