It’s estimated that over 28 million Americans will have some type of eating disorder in their lifetime. These disorders can wreak havoc on your body and aren’t always easy to overcome. Eating disorders can cause digestive issues like GERD, anemia, heart problems, bone loss, and so much more.
But, if you’re in recovery from an eating disorder, even if you’re just beginning that journey, you’ve already taken the first step in taking back your life. The important thing now is to take care of both your body and mind, so you can recover from the inside out.
Recovery is different for everyone. Your body has been through a lot, and taking care of your physical and mental health will make a big difference in the effectiveness of your recovery. Let’s cover a few tips that can help.
Giving Your Body What It Needs
After struggling with an eating disorder, it’s not as easy as one might think to fully understand your own body’s needs. That can cause some frustration and may even be triggering, but patience and dedication are both important. You should be working toward adequate nourishment each day, and you can do that by:
- Allowing all foods
- Eating a variety of things
- Practicing body awareness
- Recognizing your hunger
- Eating until you’re satisfied
- Staying hydrated
- Cultivating joy
Of course, your body needs more than just food to be healthy and strong. Sleep and exercise are both crucial components, too.
When it comes to getting enough sleep, you might find that it’s difficult, at first. Your diet may impact your circadian rhythms, especially if your body hasn’t had the proper nourishment it needs in a while. You might be so tired during the day that you nap, which can throw off your sleep schedule at night. Work on developing better sleep hygiene and setting a nighttime routine for yourself so you can get the rest your body needs.
Exercise can be a difficult thing for those recovering from an eating disorder. You might be dealing with bone or muscle loss, which can make your body feel weak. You also have to be mindful of not over-exercising. One good rule of thumb is to change your perspective on why you want to exercise. Instead of using it as a way to lose weight, think of it as a way to strengthen your body while boosting your mood.
Setting Healthy Goals
Setting both short- and long-term goals for yourself throughout your recovery can help to keep you motivated. Short-term goals that can be achieved quickly can give you the emotional and mental “boost” you need to feel more confident. Long-term goals can show you that your disorder won’t control your life forever.
In addition to specific goals about your physical health, make sure you focus on your overall wellness.
Set goals regarding self-care and your support system. Strive for more self-compassion as you recover. When you realize that your life goals don’t need to solely focus on your eating disorder and recovery, you’ll also realize that your disorder doesn’t define you.
Developing A Healthy Relationship With Food – And Yourself
Caring for your body during recovery is important. But, you should also be focusing on your long-term goals and what you want your future to look like. Think about what might have triggered your eating disorder, in the first place. You may have felt like food was the only thing in your life you had control over. Or, maybe you’ve struggled with body image issues and have always had an unhealthy relationship with food. Those issues can affect everyone. While women are typically targeted when it comes to ED treatment, men can struggle with body image issues just as much.
This is a disorder that can impact anyone.
Talking to a therapist, counselor, or nutritionist can help you to get to the underlying cause(s) of what triggered the disorder. It’s also a great way to take care of your mental health and well-being and can help you to develop a healthier relationship with food.
On your own, you can try things like mindful eating during every meal. Mindful eating will allow you to slow down and appreciate your food. You can also focus on things like:
- Why you’re eating (to nourish your body)
- What you’re feeling (grateful to be healthy)
- How each ingredient is doing something good for your health
Mindful eating allows you to enjoy and appreciate your food and what it does for you, rather than feeling overwhelmed by what’s on your plate. It requires you to listen to your body to know when you’re hungry and when you’re full, using those natural cues to stop and start eating, rather than “giving in” to what the disorder might still be trying to tell you.
It can be a long road for some people to recover from an eating disorder. But, it is possible, and you’re not alone. Use these care tips to take control of your life again and feel encouraged as you recover and reclaim your body.