An eating disorder is like a emotionally unavailable, manipulative college ex-boyfriend. Super seductive. Keeps you hanging but calls when you’re feeling desperate. Hard to break up with because he makes you feel really good sometimes (but makes you question your self-worth most of the time). After your breakup, you know hooking up is going to make you feel terrible but tell yourself, “It’ll just be this one time. We’re super casual.” (Heartbreak ensues).
Breaking up for good with your eating disorder can be the same way.
So, what the hell do you do when you’re on the brink of hooking up with this handsome disaster named Ed (short for: Eating Disorder)?
Tip 1: Notice Past Warning Signs
- Beginning to restrict food choices (gluten, dairy, sugar) without probable cause for it. It’s one thing to have a legit diagnosed food allergy and another to use these restrictions as a way to stop eating calories.
- Not going out to eat for fear of eating normal sized meals or others seeing you eat.
- Planning your next workout based on how you ate today (or recently).
- Increased desire to purge or overexercise after a meal. This might also include feeling more anxious after eating.
- Increased binges.
Tip 2: Throw Away Your Fitbit
- In fact, throw away all of your dieting apps and paraphernalia. They’re bullshit. They are fake news. What those measurements usually end up saying is, “You’re not good enough.” or “You’re almost good enough.” or “You’re good enough when you ________ (fill in your rings; eat x# of calories; martyred yourself and skipped the ice cream).”
Tip 3: Disconnect From People and Situations That Trigger Eating Disorder Thoughts
- Learn how to say no to invitations to spend time with people who promote dieting and disordered eating (friends, family, the internet)
- Find ways to limit time spent with these folks if it’s impossible to skip an invitation. Spend 30 minutes at the family reunion instead of 3 hours.
- Say goodbye to folks who tell you to diet or talk about their own diet. You don’t need to waste your time listening and filling your mind with triggering thoughts.
- Unfollow social media celebs and friends that promote fitspo and diets. And report those damn sponsored ads for diet products. The more a collective group of people starts reporting, the more companies will get the clue that we’re not falling for that shit.
Tip 4: Find Supports
- I write this in almost every blog post (so it must be important). Seriously, get connected with folks who can help you through this challenging time. If you’re in recovery, you know bargaining with your eating disorder doesn’t work. So, find yourself close friends who can listen, a counselor if you need professional support, and a non-diet, fat-positive nutritionist who can help you navigate the muddy waters of recovery.
Just like with any break up, you might need some time to grieve. Eating disorders can be like a life raft for some folks–they were useful when you needed an escape, a diversion, something to fixate on because the rest of your world wasn’t safe–but the life raft becomes less useful when you really need a boat (i.e. the ability to function with more freedom and ease in your day to day life).
Take time to grieve the break up with your eating disorder. Write it a letter. Say the words out loud. Let someone else know that you’re letting go of this part of you and that it’s hard at times. Just like feelings ebb and flow with grief, you might notice blips on the road to full recovery. That’s ok. Awareness is key.
If you’re on this journey and struggling to break up with your eating disorder or diet-y rules, reach out to contact me. I’d love to work with you and help you dump that asshole for good!