Suffering from an eating disorder can be an extremely difficult and isolating experience. In fact, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders or ANAD, eating disorders are one of the mental illnesses with the highest mortality rates.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, know that you are not alone and there is hope for recovery. Here are five gradual steps you can take to overcome your eating disorder and start living a healthier, happier life.
1. Seek professional help.
If you are suffering from an eating disorder, the first and most crucial step is to seek professional help. This could mean making an appointment with a therapist, nutritionist, or doctor. They will be able to provide you with guidance and support as you begin your journey to recovery.
For example, there are binge eating disorder treatment centers for those who suffer from this specific type of disorder. These centers will help you understand your condition and provide you with the tools you need to overcome it.
These programs might include therapy, group support, and meal plans. They will also help you to understand your triggers and how to avoid them. Regardless, making the decision to seek professional help is a big step in itself, so be proud of yourself for taking this first stride into recovery.
2. Set realistic goals.
Recovery is a process, and setting realistic goals for yourself is essential. Start by setting small goals that you know you can accomplish, such as eating three meals a day or going for a walk every day. As you achieve these smaller goals, you’ll start to build momentum and confidence in yourself, which will allow you to set bigger and bigger goals.
In addition, be sure to give yourself credit for every accomplishment, no matter how small. This will help you see your progress and remind you that you can make positive changes in your life.
One of the most important things to remember during recovery is that there will be setbacks. You might have a bad day, slip up, and return to old behaviors. However, it’s important not to get discouraged. These setbacks are normal and should be expected. What’s important is how you deal with them.
3. Challenge your thoughts.
One of the most challenging aspects of overcoming an eating disorder is changing the way you think about food and your body. Negative thoughts and self-doubt are common among those suffering from eating disorders, so it’s important to challenge these thoughts when they arise.
For example, if you’re thinking, “I’m so fat,” try to counter that thought with something more positive and realistic, like “I am healthy, and I love my body.” It might seem difficult at first, but with practice, you’ll be able to catch these negative thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.
In essence, you are retraining your brain to think more positively about food and your body. This will help you to develop a healthier relationship with both.
4. Find a support system.
Recovery is not a solo journey! Finding friends or family members who will support you on your recovery journey is essential. These people can provide you with encouragement and hold you accountable when necessary.
Additionally, there are many online communities full of people who are going through the same thing as you — don’t hesitate to reach out and connect with others who understand what you’re going through.
There are forums, blogs, and social media groups dedicated to providing support for those with eating disorders. These can be great places to find information and connect with others who are on the same journey as you.
5. Be patient with yourself.
Recovery from an eating disorder takes time — there will be roadblocks along the way. It’s important to be patient with yourself and understand that this is a process that takes time, effort, and dedication.
You can allot some time to journalling as well. This will help you to track your progress and keep you motivated. Additionally, it can be helpful to look back on your journal entries from time to time to see how far you’ve come. Most importantly, don’t forget to celebrate your victories — no matter how small!
Remember that every step forward is progress, and there are no shortcuts when it comes to healing. Be gentle with yourself and understand that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Above all, know that you are capable of overcoming your eating disorder. You are strong, and you can do this!
Recovery from an eating disorder is possible — but it takes time, effort, and dedication. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, please reach out for help. There are many resources available, and you don’t have to go through this alone.