My friends, I want to talk to you today about a topic that affects millions of people around the world: disordered eating. Obviously this is something that I’m passionate about helping people overcome so let’s start by first defining what disordered eating is.
Many people panic when they hear the phrase “disordered eating” because they equate it with an “eating disorder” such as anorexia or bulimia, but they are NOT the same thing. Disordered eating simply refers to a wide range of unhealthy eating behaviors, you’ve just got some unbalanced behaviors going on! For most, it commonly looks like any of the following:
- Binge eating and emotional eating
- Chronic yo-yo dieting (basically you’ve tried it all!)
- Fear, guilt, or shame around food
- Food obsessions
- Hyper-focus on weight or body shame
- Repetitive weight cycling
- Occasional purging
- Rigid eating patterns
- Use of laxatives or diet pills to control weight.
While these abnormal eating behaviors can interfere with daily life, they are not happening at a frequency or intensity that would categorize them as an eating disorder. While that’s positive news, it still leaves a gray space for many. When you’re in your head about food but you don’t need treatment like you would for an eating disorder, and you also don’t need another instigating meal plan or higher education on macros, what do you do about it? How do you overcome disordered eating, lose weight, and live a healthy, fulfilling life? Let’s dive in and explore some of the strategies you can use to overcome disordered eating.
1. Identify The Root Cause
One of the first steps in overcoming disordered eating is to identify the root cause of your behavior. For many people, disordered eating is a coping mechanism for deeper emotional issues, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, or low self-esteem.
If you’re struggling with disordered eating, take some time to reflect on what might be driving your behavior. Ask yourself questions like: When did my disordered eating behaviors begin? What triggers me to engage in these behaviors? What emotions am I trying to suppress or avoid when I engage in disordered eating?
Once you have a better understanding of the root cause of your disordered eating, you can start to develop strategies to address it. This might include therapy, support groups, or other forms of self-care.
2. Reframe Your Relationship With Food
Another important strategy for overcoming disordered eating is to reframe your relationship with food. For many people with disordered eating, food is either an enemy or a comfort. It’s something to be avoided or something to turn to when emotions get overwhelming.
But the truth is that food is neither good nor bad. It’s simply fuel for your body. And when you start to see it that way, you can develop a healthier relationship with it.
Start by focusing on nourishing your body with healthy, whole foods. This doesn’t mean you have to give up all the foods you love. It simply means that you’re making a conscious effort to eat foods that will help you feel your best.
3. Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is another important strategy for overcoming disordered eating. Mindful eating means being fully present and aware while you eat, and paying attention to your body’s signals of hunger and fullness.
Many people with disordered eating have lost touch with their body’s natural signals. They may ignore hunger cues or eat past the point of fullness. By practicing mindful eating, you can start to reestablish a connection with your body and its needs.
To practice mindful eating, start by setting aside distractions like your phone or TV. Take a few deep breaths before you eat, and really savor each bite. Pay attention to the flavors, textures, and sensations in your mouth. And check in with yourself periodically to see how you’re feeling. Are you still hungry? Are you feeling satisfied? Here is an article we wrote about 5 Steps To Create Mindful Eating Habits.
4. Build A Support System
Navigating through disordered eating can be a longer journey than your typical 30 day weight loss challenge. It’s important to have a support system in place to help you through the ups and downs. But often it’s difficult to find a support system because disordered eating is often a silent issue for many. It’s not something you talk about over lunch with a friend or spouse. And even if they do, they may not understand and think their triggering advise of “well, just don’t eat it” is the ultimate solution. This is why we have developed various levels of coaching memberships that include a private in-house community who will support you without judgment and who will help you stay accountable to your goals.
5. Develop A Positive Mindset
My friends, one of the key strategies for overcoming disordered eating is to develop a positive mindset. Many people with disordered eating struggle with negative self-talk and low self-esteem, which can fuel the cycle of unhealthy eating behaviors.
But by developing a positive mindset, you can break free from this cycle and start living a healthy, fulfilling life and carry that over into other areas of your life. You’ll truly see life differently. Here are some tips for developing a positive mindset:
One of the simplest ways to develop a positive mindset is to practice gratitude. This means focusing on the things in your life that you're thankful for, even if they seem small. Every day, take some time to reflect on what you're grateful for. It might be your health, your family and friends, your job, or simply a beautiful day. By focusing on the positive things in your life, you can shift your mindset from negative to positive which will also influence how you use food to cope with your emotions.
Affirmations are positive statements that you repeat to yourself to reinforce a certain belief or behavior. For example, if you struggle with negative self-talk, you might repeat affirmations like "I am worthy and deserving of love and respect," or "I am strong and capable of overcoming challenges." What you focus on becomes your reality. By repeating these affirmations regularly, you can start to shift your beliefs about yourself and your abilities.
Visualization is another powerful tool for developing a positive mindset. This involves visualizing yourself achieving your goals and living the life you want. For example, if your goal is to overcome disordered eating, you might visualize yourself making healthy food choices, enjoying meals without guilt or shame, and feeling confident and empowered in your body. By visualizing these positive outcomes, you can start to reprogram your subconscious mind and make these outcomes more likely to occur.
Surround Yourself With Positivity
Finally, surrounding yourself with positivity is key to developing a positive mindset. This means surrounding yourself with people who support and encourage you, and avoiding people and situations that bring you down. It also means consuming positive media, such as uplifting books, podcasts, and music and eliminating media that only fuels the triggers surrounding food and weight. By surrounding yourself with positivity, you can create an environment that supports your journey towards a healthier, happier life.
I hope this helps you understand more about what is considered disordered eating. KNOW your struggles with food are NOT a life sentence! Every day I have the privilege to witness breakthroughs with one’s disordered eating. If they can do it, you can too! You too have the power to overcome disordered eating and create the life you want! But you’ll need the right guidance as it involves a multi-faceted approach consisting of nutrition, mindset, and coaching. We’re ready when you’re ready to say “No!” to dieting – forever! View our coaching memberships here.
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