Six categories of care to attend throughout your recovery treatment. The details may contain some surprises.
- stress reduction
- mind and spiritual nourishment
- quality caring relationships
Eating disorders, by the very name, imply food issues. However, the disorders are about eating. Do you binge, purge, graze, starve, alternate between binging and starving? If you do then your food choices are more about how they relate to your feelings and sustaining or minimizing your eating behaviors. Your choices are not about nutrition to fuel and sustain a healthy body. Genuine nutritional needs may have to be learned.
Burning calories is often a primary goal of a person with an eating disorder. But exercise also reduces stress, enlivens the body and enhances your ability to sleep well. Exercise reduces depression and anxiety. It also can increase your tolerance for pain. These benefits decrease your emotionally based cravings and eating urges. However, as in eating, exercise needs to be done regularly and in moderation.
Adequate restful sleep enhances your memory ability. This applies not only to remembering events in your life. It also applies to consolidating a myriad of aspects of particular learning to embed a new skill thoroughly in your repertoire of behaviors. The feeling of real competence that accompanies this learning undermines the insecurities and anxieties within your eating disordered way of life. You are more justifiably confident when you get adequate sleep. Also, you can experience fatigue as lack of energy and eat to give yourself an energy boost. For this reason adequate sleep also prevents weight gain.
An eating disorder way of life includes coping with the consequences of poor judgment based on distorted thinking. You believe what your malnourished mind sees. You cope with your stress by acting out your eating disorder. This puts more stress on your body and does nothing to relieve stress caused by inner or environmental influences.
Stress reduction exercises and activities like yoga, meditation, walks, walking time in gardens, breathing exercises improve your immune system, give you more energy, help you sleep better and digest food better. You experience more calm. In that calm you develop the ability to move beyond your eating disorder influenced perceptions so you are more reality focused and more positive.
Mind and spiritual nourishment:
Maintaining an eating disorder requires intelligence, determination and dedication. You direct your natural energies toward coping with the world as you see it. You cope with your anxieties and out of control feelings with your eating disorder symptoms. When your energy flows in these directions you are neglecting the nourishment of your mind and spirit. You don’t have time or the awareness to recognize the need for such nourishment.
Giving your mind ideas, knowledge and the opportunity to explore and discover what your mind can create and develop by using your own innate powers enlivens you. It gives you confidence. It gives you a zest for living. It expands your perception and ignites your initiative. Your eating disorder takes a much lower position in your choices.
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” William Butler Yeats
Nourishing your spirit in ways that you appreciate opens your heart and builds your courage. Maybe your way is through religion or spiritual practices. Maybe it’s through good works and giving to your community. Maybe it’s through being with people who are more evolved than you and who teach you with their presence.
As you nourish your spirit you are led by your own values and insight to people and activities that honor your soul and enrich your life – something that eating disorder activity never does.
6 Ways Spirituality Can Make You Healthier – Everyday Health http://www.everydayhealth.com/pictures/ways-spirituality-can-make-you-healthier/
Quality caring relationships:
The people you admit into your life based on eating disorder dominated thinking can be abusive, exploitative and dangerous. Part of your eating disorder mentality is to devalue yourself. Therefore you choose people who don’t think much of you and use you for their purposes.
Developing quality relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers where you honor the best of each other and celebrate positive experiences in life are vital. You learn that support means helping someone sustain hardship and encouraging her to find her way out.
A quality relationship means sharing laughter. It creates an environment that heals and sustains. You appreciate joy and quickly recognize what is not a quality relationship. Rather than be battered and abused, stressed and unhappy because you don’t know how to change a negative relationship, you leave it early or don’t step into it in the first place.
With loving and caring relationships in your life as normal, you have an excellent criteria for seeing trouble before it gets out of hand. This too, reduces your stress, anxiety, pressure, isolation and your need for eating disorder activities.
These six categories may make sense to you but seem impossible to achieve. One powerful way to start is to keep them in mind as you proceed with your psychotherapy or start psychotherapy. A psychotherapist experienced in eating disorder recovery will address them with you as your treatment unfolds.
You may be surprised during your therapy when you don’t focus on food and eating. You may be surprised when you don’t focus on the villainy of people who have hurt you. You may be surprised when your therapist suggests activities and encourages you to take classes in areas that seem to have nothing to do with your eating disorder.
But so much of real living has nothing to do with an eating disorder. It’s the eating disorder we want to make irrelevant and unnecessary. And we can.
You may be surprised when you discover your eating disorder is no longer an issue. You will have more important and valuable concerns.
This article written by Joanna Poppink, MFT , Los Angeles eating disorder recovery psychotherapist and author of Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder.
Picture attribution: 7 April 2008 (original upload date) by Sukh17 T]] • C]] licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.]