There are different types of eating disorders and a complex set of issues connected with them that can act as harmful triggers making the disease stronger and putting the sufferer at great risk. Eating disorders are deadly. There is nothing to be celebrated at having an unhealthy association to food or having an extreme disorder to food that can quite literally keep you alive and well. Anyone who has suffered and survived from conditions such as bulimia, anorexia or from a binge eating disorder will tell you that it offers a nightmare world of ill-health with a real potential to lose their life. Serious medical assistance and counselling is required for someone who is gripped by an eating disorder as proper counselling can often mean the difference between life and death.
But there are many people who are at risk too. The borderline individuals who are worried about their weight, yo-yo dieting or even thinking about starving themselves in a desperate bid to become slimmer. Someone who feels good about themselves might approach this in a sensible way but someone who feels a little lost, lacks confidence or is generally unsure of themselves may potentially succumb to any of those conditions. The answer is to change their mindset and approach food in a different way – before it is too late.
Importantly, food needs to be consumed as it fuels our bodies. For many with eating disorders, food is a way to make the individual fat on a physical level and often unloved in an emotional sense. Even if this is not true and the individual is not weighty at all and is loved by many, the individual can find it hard to believe this. Anyone who borders on having an eating disorder needs to see food in a positive way, that it nourishes and protects the body. In a way, food can be seen as a necessary medicine that keeps poor health at bay.
Good eating habits are essential. Having a nutritious diet doesn’t mean that the individual is going to get fat; it means they will get or will continue to stay healthy. There is a difference. Too often people have an unhealthy association to food. They continue to eat even when full, they don’t know when to stop, and they use food as an emotional crutch. The first sign of stress has them turning to a chocolate bar for comfort and they then feel guilty. It’s important that this mindset changes. The individual has to stop eating when they are full and to know that they only eat when they are hungry. Maybe their parents told them off for leaving food on their plates when in actual fact; the serving of food was just too much. No-one wants to waste food but, eating for the sake of it is very bad.
If you have unhealthy eating habits, it will take time to recondition your mindset and to approach eating in a healthier way. You might love chocolate but see it as a sure-fire way to simply gain weight. Someone who has an eating disorder wouldn’t think that they have the power to stop at only one or two squares of chocolate; they would either avoid it completely or binge on it. Learning to rethink about the association with food is vital.
If you don’t like your body and you are not even really connected to yourself on an emotional level, it’s not surprising that this can form the basic foundations of any eating disorder. If you don’t like yourself, you don’t think others will. Sometimes people go to extreme lengths, even starving themselves, in a bid to get others to notice them in a favourable way. Stop the negativity and treat yourself like a good friend. Nurture yourself, be kind and caring, developing an eating disorder is not the way. If you make mistakes, forgive yourself; learn to shrug off negative thoughts or unkind comments from others. You are the important one.
Exercise is a great resource and gives a protection from developing an eating disorder. The fitter that you get; the less likely you are to starve yourself. When you care about your fitness, it takes precedence over that former unhealthy association to food. You care about your nutrition because you see food as vital fuel and know that your body needs it. It doesn’t matter what type of exercise that you do, swimming, walking, dancing, yoga…they all offer a way to feel better about yourself. Food enables you to enjoy these pastimes.
Stop thinking about your weight or using the term ‘fat’. This term only fuels the vicious cycle of an eating disorder and it’s a hurtful word. You need to adopt lifestyle changes which enable you to eat well and yet create a body and emotional well-being that you truly deserve. It’s not about anyone else but about your continued development.