Eating Disorder recovery: 4 Tips to Stop The Constant Thoughts of Food
By: Brilliant Shaye Boddington
I love all the posts by Shaye, (this is a great article by her). Shaye suffered from Bulimia for over a decade. She is inspirational and has helped many across the world to recover from their Eating Disorder. Thank you Shaye for all your support and help before I went to hospital.
Eating disorder recovery can be rough when thoughts of food bombard the mind again and again. I used to curse the ‘food-related’ thoughts… I thought there was something seriously wrong with me for having them all the time…
But during my eating disorder recovery – and in the 7 years since that I have been bulimia free, I’ve grown to understand that those thoughts of food were there for a reason. I wasn’t crazy after all!
I now know that in the early weeks and months of eating disorder recovery, frequent thoughts of food are normal. After so many years of eating disorders (starving, binging and purging, trying to diet, etc, etc) the mind is in the habit of thinking of food all the time… Throw into the mix primal hunger (which occurs when our bodies feel a threat of famine from past or present food restriction) and it’s no wonder that these thoughts are so frequent…
But I promise, I promise, I promise, they will settle down and return to normal in time.
Here are 4 steps you can take to make sure of this…
1) Make sure you are eating enough
A mind that is starving will ALWAYS be shouting for more food. This is why it’s so important that you’re planning enough food into your meal plans…
I always suggest trying to eat 3 meals a day and 3 snacks a day – spaced no longer than 3 hours apart. This is what I did in my eating disorder recovery and I’d urge you to give it a try in yours. At first it does seem like a lot of food to eat (and digest!) but I promise that in time, your body will thank you for it.
2) Work on letting go of the desire to lose weight
Even thoughts of weight loss can trigger fears of deprivation and dieting – which can activate the urge to binge…
To this day, the thought of going on a diet makes me feel bingey – but this is normal – it happens to most people, even those who have never suffered from bulimia! It is not normal to diet… We are not designed to purposefully try and restrict food or lose weight.
An important step in letting go of the desire to diet is learning to accept your unique and beautiful body. Accepting your body will help you put thoughts of dieting to rest – and without those thoughts, your mind is far less likely to bombard you with binge urges.
3) Remind Yourself “Food is Coming Soon”
When you get an urge to eat in-between your meals and snacks, gently remind yourself that you can eat again soon. Let yourself know the amount of time until your next planned meal or snack and gently ask yourself if you can wait until then. Once you have done this, distract yourself into the days activities…
Use your planned meals and snacks as ‘stepping stones’ to help you get from one meal to the next…
In time, your mind will learn that it’s normal to have a few hours between meals – and it won’t demand food as often.
4) Eat all types of foods – yummy treats included!
As soon as we are ‘not allowed’ – we want. As soon as chocolate is ‘bad’ – we can’t get it out of our minds!
To get rid of these ‘food labels’ and the cravings they cause, plan in 1-2 treats each day. This will reinforce that all foods are allowed and because nothing is off limits, there is no need to crave those once ‘forbidden foods’.
And yes, you really can have chocolate any day of the week, if you want! I had chocolate every single night during my eating disorder recovery – just to get the message through that I wasn’t going to deny myself chocolate anymore!
Denial always lead to binging and purging – and so I decided it was a better idea to have, in moderation 🙂
Of course it’s normal to feel nervous of eating and holding down those once ‘forbidden foods’ right away… That’s okay… just work on it slowly but surely. Start on a food that you feel you can hold down, and build on that. Gradually eliminating all those unhelpful ‘food rules’ from your life.
I eat yummy treats quite often, and I remain slim and healthy – you will too.
How Long Will It Take Before The ‘Food Thoughts’ Stop!?
When you first start practicing the steps above, you might not notice a difference in the food thoughts right away. For a little while, they might even seem stronger (Because you are not satisfying them with binging). But trust me – you’ll want to push through this – it does get easier, I promise.
If you slip up and binge or purge.. Love yourself, forgive yourself and hop back on board! Slips happen and they are not the end of the world. See them as an opportunity to learn, grow and to become even stronger in recovery.
Remind yourself that it took a long time to develop all the thought patterns and habits of bulimia, and it might take a while to build new habits and ways of thinking. Weather it takes you a few weeks, or many months – I promise it will be worth it.