While eating disorders impact both men and women, women tend to suffer from them to a much greater degree. This may be largely due to society’s relentless pressure on females to be supermodel thin and cellulite-free. Sadly, it’s the exception not the rule to fit such unrealistic and unhealthy standards, yet many females strive to do just that. When that happens, an eating disorder treatment center may be necessary. Getting self-help for eating disorders is a good start, however.
Of course, eating disorders may also develop for other reasons, such as a distorted body image or the need to ease stress and self-soothe with excessive amounts of food. Family conflict and the fierce need for control may also play a role. Regardless of the cause, professional help is often necessary. However, managing and overcoming your eating disorder shouldn’t stop there. You can take additional steps to help get your life back on track and enhance your treatment. Not only will these tips help you overcome your disorder; following them will also help you feel more empowered, which is especially beneficial for anyone dealing with disordered eating.
Self-Help Tips for Women With Eating Disorders
The following are lifestyle tips that will help women in their recovery journey:
With bulimia nervosa, know your triggers
Individuals with bulimia often binge in response to stressful situations, negative emotions or other specific events. The urge to purge, take laxatives, or exercise excessively may be especially strong if you have a special occasion coming up or are feeling especially down about yourself (and your body). The greater your self-awareness, the better equipped you can be to avoid those triggers or have a game plan in place when they’re unavoidable.
Keep exercise in check
Bulimics often use excessive exercise as a way to burn off the calories from a binge-eating episode. A 30-minute jog can easily turn into a six-mile run if you’re not careful. Going to the gym may tap into negative feelings about your body and weight, especially if you compare yourself to women who seem to be thinner or more fit than you. Talk to your treatment providers about your best exercise options, as well as how to keep exercise from becoming excessive. You might also find an exercise partner – preferably someone who knows about your bulimia and will be supportive but firm when you work out together.
Follow your treatment plan
If you want to make progress, it’s crucial that you attend all treatment sessions and not deviate from your meal plans. You won’t always feel like it, and at times you’ll want to give up and throw in the towel. That’s normal—you’re human, after all. But you’ll make more progress and recover more quickly and fully if you stay on track with all aspects of your treatment. You’ll also have a better chance of thwarting or reducing the negative health effects that bulimia can cause.
Treat yourself with kindness
Bulimia and low self-worth often go hand in hand. Now more than ever is the time to pamper yourself in healthy ways (i.e. not with a quart of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!) and treat yourself just as lovingly as you would a close friend. Beating yourself up will only make you more vulnerable to falling back into old, unhealthy habits.
Don’t weigh, measure, or check
It’s going to be very tempting, but getting on the scales or scrutinizing your figure in the mirror will be detrimental to your progress—and may set you back significantly if it triggers a binge-eating episode. Find something to distract yourself whenever you feel the urge to get out the tape measure or hop on the scale.
Start the day with a healthy breakfast
It’s not uncommon with binge-eating disorder to skip breakfast. Unfortunately, this can make you more vulnerable to binge-eating later in the day. A breakfast high in protein and healthy fat will keep hunger away for several hours.
The feeling of deprivation that accompanies most “diets” can quickly trigger a binge episode. In fact, it can make it worse than usual. Breaking your “diet” and binging can feel like a double failure—and the guilt and self-loathing are worse than ever. If you’re overweight, talk to a doctor or nutritionist about the safest and best way for you to go about losing the unwanted pounds.
Limit the food you have on hand
It’s much harder to binge if your refrigerator and cupboards aren’t full or don’t contain your favorite binge foods. Granted, you can always get in the car and go to the store, but having to do so can be a good deterrent.
Binge eating is typically a solo event, hidden from others. The more time you spend alone, the more likely you will be to binge eat. Additionally, having supportive people in your life will help you get through treatment and feel better about yourself.
Know when you’re most vulnerable
Binge eating episodes are often triggered by other things, including the time of day (usually late evening or night time), stress, boredom, and painful emotions. The more aware you are of when you’re most likely to binge eat, the easier it will be to make necessary lifestyle changes.
Put away the scale
As tempting as it is to get on the scale, it’s crucial to your progress to avoid it. Leave your weight checks for the nurse at your doctor’s office. On a similar note, resist the urge to measure yourself or check your body in the mirror. The slightest perceived bulge or ¼” gain can have the same negative effect as an increase in the number on the scale.
Surround yourself with support
The shame and stigma that often accompany a mental health condition—including eating disorders—can make you want to withdraw socially. As part of self-help for eating disorders, now more than ever you need to surround yourself with friends and family who love you, just the way you are. The people who truly care about you want to see you succeed, and won’t judge you based on your weight or body shape. Don’t push them away. If you don’t have much of a support system, consider joining a support group for individuals with eating disorders. A good support system is highly beneficial for anyone trying to recover from any type of health issue.
Get the Help You Need From Promises Behavioral Health
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder or feel that there’s something wrong with your relationship to food, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Call us today at 844.875.5609 if you’re a woman with an eating disorder.