One personal resource trumps all other needs when modifying diet to combat an eating disorder: time. No matter what causes a condition to take root, from genetics to personality issues or trauma, the body and mind both need to gradually rewrite old habits through consistent, positive action. Every survivor among the 30 million Americans affected by eating disorders each year undergoes a lengthy, transformative and challenging journey. Many may not even realize the toll their disrupted eating behaviors have taken until their bodies revolt on a critical level. Such is the consequence of a widely diet-focused modern culture. The sooner healthy changes begin, the better the chances of survival become.
No More Dieting
Let this one diet rule trump all others: dieting doesn’t work. No approach has proven more effective in maintaining a healthy weight than weight-neutral personal care. Fad diets sell themselves to desperate, insecure consumers at the expense of inadvertently manipulating them toward poor body image, binge eating and poor self-esteem. Instead, talk to a knowledgeable professional about establishing feeding habits you can maintain for the rest of your life. That may include carefully re-balancing portions to emphasize whole grains, fruits, vegetables and protein or drastically cutting back sugar and refined carbohydrates, but avoid reconfiguring your meal plan without input from someone with relevant nutritional experience. The first step toward recovery is acknowledging a problem. Accepting that you don’t have to face it alone comes in a close second.
An eating disorder may be a symptom of a more deeply ingrained issue. With appropriate counseling, you can better understand what compels you to starve yourself of nutritious, delicious food to the point of irresistible cravings and binges on fatty, calorie-rich foods. Whatever tempts you toward disordered eating, you can manage the influence certain situations and foods wield and accept triggering selections as occasional treats without starving yourself. First and foremost, food is fuel for a sound mind and functional body. You can savor the flavor and positive experiences of eating, but do so with a balanced mindset. Cut yourself some slack, and accept the time it will take to see food in a new light. In the meantime, keeping certain foods out of your house and leaving some environments behind might be the only way to avert a backslide into undesirable choices. Meanwhile, talk with a friend or keep a journal when potent emotions such as anger, fear, sadness or even immense joy nudge you toward falling back on food as a release.
Listen To Your Body
To overcome an eating disorder, you must reacquaint yourself with your body. If you look in the mirror and feel crushed by what you see, ask yourself if being underweight really has anything to do with being more successful. Would the people who care about you actually love you any more or differently? When you do reset your personal goals, commit to them with realistic expectations in mind. Specifically, never forget that the most worthwhile things in life have nothing to do with being thin. Men and women endure a perpetual advertising onslaught geared toward abnormal physical ideals. Only you have to live in your own skin each day. Ask yourself, what actually makes me feel healthy, balanced and happy? Fitness models, celebrities and fashion moguls won’t live your life for you. Hence, everything centers on what best suits the single body given to you for your entire lifetime.
When you combat an eating disorder that is the one big picture which trumps everything else: one body and one mind for the rest of your life. Recovery hinges on mindsets and routines you can feel comfortable with every single day, no matter your age.