Eating disorders have affected millions of us young people in the US. They’ve caused us to miss out on school, careers, relationships, and opportunities of all sorts. Perhaps worst of all, they make us think that we can’t be happy until we obtain the perfect body. Eating disorders can damage our health and even end lives, but fortunately recovery is possible! This is why we need to learn more about ways to manage eating disorders so we can finally move on.
What exactly are eating disorders? Let’s go over them briefly:
Eating Disorders: An Overview
The term eating disorder covers a wide range of unique mental illnesses. Their main characteristic as a group is that they all cause some type of harmful, food or eating centered behavior. Although the behaviors vary quite a bit, they usually include food-restriction, purging, or excessive eating. Most eating disorders lead to harmful physical effects and some can even lead to death.
The 5 eating disorders recognized in the ICD and DSM (the two main diagnostic manuals that doctors and psychologists use) include:
- Anorexia Nervosa– this disorder is characterized by extreme food restriction and weight loss.
- Bulimia Nervosa– binging and purging are the characteristic behaviors of bulimia.
- Binge Eating Disorder (BED)- BED is similiar to bulimia because it causes food binging, but those with BED don’t purge.
- Muscle Dysmorphia- This disorder typically affects men, and causes a disruptive fixation on musculature.
- Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)- OSFED is a bit like a diagnostic “catch-all” for people with disordered eating whose symptoms don’t fit into the 4 above diagnoses.
The 9 Ways to Manage Eating Disorders
Breaking free from an eating disorder and avoiding relapse is a serious decision that requires lifelong commitment. It might seem daunting at first, but recovery is always worth the bravery and the hard work. Let’s get down to it and review 9 ways to manage eating disorders!
1. Reach out to friends and family for support.
We reccomend reaching out for support as the first step so you don’t have to do the rest alone. One of the symptoms of eating disorders includes social isolation, so you’ve likely been out of contact with your friends and family for a while. It’s a great time to pick up the phone, and start talking about you, your disorder, and your plans to heal.
You might be surprised to find how many people are there and willing to help you!
2. Find a treatment plan that works for you.
There are many different kinds of treatment available for eating disorders. Your two main options are inpatient and outpatient programs. Within these two groups, there are a huge assortment of “personalities” unique to each treatment facility.
Reach out to us at intervention.com! We are connected with many different facilities and can match you, based on your unique needs, with the best possible treatment.
3. Complete your treatment plan.
This sounds simple enough, but completing a treatment program can be difficult for some of us. Nearly 15% of those who enter eating disorder treatment will drop out because of the challenge. Stick with it, full participation and reaching the end of your program will help you break free from your disorder.
4. Work on improving any health problems that developed during your eating disorder.
Eating disorders can wreak havoc on our physical wellbeing. In anorexia and bulimia, we can see heart conditions, osteoporosis, hair changes, and severe weight loss. With BED, we tend to see obesity and obesity related illnesses starting to develop.
It is important to work on improving these conditions as part of a well-rounded treatment. Mind, body, and soul are all important to recovery. Work alongside a medical professional to bring your body weight back to normal, and treat any other health problems.
5. Join an eating disorder support group.
Support groups are great for those recovering from eating disorders and any other mental health condition. They provide an opportunity to vent our emotions, meet people who understand us, and process the challenges of recovery.
Some have compared support groups to free therapy! So, it’s probably worth a shot.
6. Work on new, healthier coping mechanisms.
One of the most important ways to manage eating disorders is to learn new coping mechanisms. In the midst of our illness, eating or not eating serve as our coping mechanisms. Food, or the lack of it, becomes a source of comfort during stressful times.
Replacing our harmful eating behaviors with new coping mechanisms will help us avoid relapse.
7. Remember to practice loving yourself and your body every day.
Low self-esteem, distorted body image, and self-hatred: these are the three mental demons that fuel eating disorders. Correcting negative body image isn’t easy because we can’t just wake up and decide one morning that we love our bodies. It takes work and maintenance.
Practice pointing out the things you appreciate on your body and in your soul. When you notice yourself insulting and bashing your body, remember that is your illness talking.
8. Avoid triggers.
We all have a unique set of triggers. For some, it’s a group of friends or pro-ana websites. To prevent relapse, avoid these triggers as much as possible.
9. Enjoy recovery!
Once you’ve completed your treatment, enjoy! Fill your days with fun activities and start new projects. By breaking free from your eating disorder, you’ve opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Enjoying your new life will protect you from going back to old behaviors.