disordered eating help » recovery guidelines

Changing disordered eating patterns is a challenge, for sure. Here are some recovery guidelines to help you along the way

Each person has unique circumstances and reasons, but everyone who engages in emotional or binge-eating will need to discover what works and what does not work for themselves.

These general guidelines support the basic work that usually needs to be done.

          • Get to know your triggers
          • Get to know your thought patterns
          • Get to know your emotions and moods
          • Eat regularly
          • Plan
          • Track progress
          • Be kind to yourself


 1. Get to know your triggers

Know your triggers so you can prepare for, avoid, and learn how to handle them

What are triggers?

          • People, places, situations
          • Thoughts, feelings, sensations (e.g., too hungry) or states of being  (e.g., tired, bored, overwhelmed)
          • Particular foods that set you off, and make you want to eat more even when you are not hungry



2. Get to know your thought-patterns

Become very familiar with the thinking and thoughts that fuel your desire to eat emotionally

Here are some examples of triggering thought-patterns:

          • ‘What’s the point … I might as well eat’
          • ‘I don’t care!’
          • ‘I’ll only have one’
          • ‘I can’t stand it anymore’
          • ‘I’ll start again tomorrow’

thought patternsWhat are some of yours?   Write them down.

As you become more aware of the thoughts that help fuel your desire to eat more than your body needs, you’ll be able to intervene before you take that first bite.

You’ll also be able to challenge those triggering thoughts and overlay them with more constructive,more truthful ones.  For example, is it true that you don’t care?


3. Get to know your emotions and moods

Become very familiar with and able to tolerate the feelings and moods that fuel your desire to eat emotionally.  For many people, this is the most difficult part.

          • Some people know what they are feeling but find that feeling extremely uncomfortable and difficult to tolerate for any length of time – they just want it to stop, and what better way than to use food.
          • Other people don’t know what they are feeling, and that not-knowing and discomfort is difficult to tolerate for any length of time

Building your emotional awareness and tolerance – sometimes called ‘emotional regulation’ – is not a short-term project. Lots of the daily tools (in the moment) can help. Psychotherapy can also help.



4. Eat regularly

          • Learn what works best for your body
          • Choose a healthy combination of meals (and snacks)
          • Eat only foods you like and that your body tolerates well
          • Learn and accept the foods that trigger you
          • Learn and accept when you are not really hungry



5. Plan

Planning is a life skill. Some people have it. Others don’t. But learning how to think ahead and plan when you can shop for food and prepare it is pretty important. So is planning your mealtimes. Knowing when your next meal will be can help you avoid problems, or at least lessen their impact.

          • Prepare and plan ahead
          • Have a written emergency plan, for those tricky moments


6. Monitor and keep track of:

          • Your triggering event(s)
          • Your thoughts and feelings – related to your triggering event(s) and during the day
          • Your daily progress. Give yourself lots of credit for any progress you make, however slight
          • All foods you consume – you eat it, you own it, you write it down.
          • Your successful and unsuccessful actions


7. Be kind to yourself

In all of this, remember to be as kind as possible to yourself.

Trying to change habits and behaviors that you use to cope with your emotions can be a daunting process.  Lots of learning is involved, and there are bound to be mistakes along the way.

As you gain awareness of what and how you are doing, you may find it useful to explore additional tools that others have found helpful on a daily basis, or in the moment of actual temptation.

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