An estimated 30 million Americans suffer from eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating, while tens of millions more are plagued by distorted images of their bodies. Those who struggle with body image and eating disorders need to find ways to move from a judgmental approach to one rooted in compassion. How can we foster a more positive accepting attitude toward our bodies? Research suggests that a regular dose of mindfulness may be a very effective remedy.
It’s all about awareness and acceptance. Mindfulness is the energy of being fully aware of what is happening in the present moment—both within and around us. It involves maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and the surrounding environment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing right now rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future. Mindfulness also involves acceptance: we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them, without believing that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. Practicing mindfulness involves returning to this awareness again and again when our attention drifts or gets caught up in conditioned mental habits and behaviors.
You can be mindful anytime, anywhere. This simple practice doesn’t require you to subscribe to any particular set of beliefs, and it can be practiced at any time and in any situation. You can practice being mindful while driving to work, washing the dishes, during an important business meeting, or watching TV. It’s not about what you’re doing but rather about how you are doing it—with undivided attention and awareness of your experience in the present moment.
Mindfulness to the rescue. The practice is particularly helpful when you’re experiencing some kind of pain, anxiety, impulse, or insecurity. Instead of running away from unpleasant feelings, practice being mindful of them. By staying present to these feelings and observing them without judgment, you can begin to accept them and you will find that they eventually dissolve. We often take emotions (especially negative ones) very personally. But mindfulness invites us to view them as simply mental events passing through, like temporary waves in our ocean of awareness.
Practicing mindfulness can be particularly helpful if you struggle with body image and eating disorders:
It shifts your attention away from your outward appearance towards how your body feels from the inside.
It helps you recognize mental and behavioral habits and how you’ve been conditioned to think, feel, and act in response to various stimuli. It then opens your ability to make more conscious, deliberate choices with your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
By learning to recognize internal thoughts and feelings instead of being carried away by them, it creates new habits that counteract obstructive coping strategies.
Mindfulness teaches the value of having a spiritual practice: a consistent method for transforming pain and allowing you to find the strength to heal.
Mindfulness can be tremendously helpful in improving our body image. It prompts us to relish the here and now and to stop chasing thinness. It reminds us to tune out the noise of destructive societal pressures, and to tune into ourselves instead. It teaches us to savor each minute and to observe our bodies, thoughts, and feelings without judgment. Through mindfulness, we can turn our negative emotions into our greatest sources of strength.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, Executive Director at The Body Image Therapy Center.
Almost everyone has some self-image issues. Maybe you feel your thighs are too big, your hair is too frizzy, your waist isn’t small enough, or your muscles have no definition. In our culture that seems fixated on appearances, it can be hard to love your body and easy to find fault with it. But for those who suffer from body image disorder, a distorted internal perception of their body can make it virtually impossible to live a normal life. Thoughts about their physical imperfections can be persistent and intrusive, even when the perceived flaw is nonexistent. They believe their body is unacceptable, and that it should be hated and hidden. These feelings can grow and fester, interfering with social and/or occupational functioning and causing elevated levels of anxiety and depression, or the development of eating disorder behaviors.
Many people suffer from the condition without even realizing it. Body image disorder is equally prevalent among men and women, and it occurs all around the world. If you believe that you or someone you love may have body image disorder, it’s important to recognize the signs:
Preoccupation with physical appearance
Obsessively looking in the mirror or other reflective surfaces
Showing reduced or poor performance at work or school
Utilizing extreme diet and exercise behaviors
Undergoing numerous cosmetic surgery operations without satisfaction
Avoiding social gatherings and social situations
Comparing one’s physical appearance with others
Feelings of extreme self-consciousness
Spending a large percentage of time and thought on exercise, food, calories, and weight
Wearing excessive makeup or clothing to camouflage perceived flaws
If you think you have body image disorder, don’t hesitate to seek help. There are effective treatment options that improve functioning and adaptability for people with body distortions to change faulty appearance-related beliefs. With the willingness to work toward a positive life again, it’s entirely possible to overcome body image disorder and have a healthy self-image.
So, how does this body image disorder thing get fixed? There are both therapy- and medication-based treatment options to help those with body image disorder. The goal of these treatments is to improve quality of life and overall day-to-day functioning, while also decreasing the distress associated with appearance concerns. Other treatments, such as nutrition counseling, exercise, and massage can all be helpful in forming a loving relationship with the body. In addition, there are a number of self-help behaviors that can bring significant symptom relief:
Educate yourself. Learn all you can about body image disorder. Knowledge truly is power and it can motivate you to do whatever it takes to get better.
Know your triggers. Talk to your medical professional about what situations or events may elicit your individual signs and symptoms. Ask him or her to help you formulate a plan of action if symptoms return.
Avoid drugs and alcohol. They can worsen your symptoms and counteract the progress you’ve made in therapy.
Stick to your treatment strategy. If you’re prescribed medication, take it as directed and don’t skip therapy sessions, even when you’re feeling better.
Keep a journal. Write about obsessive thoughts associated with your body image disorder and share them with your medical professional. Don’t forget to record when you’ve successfully overcome the urges and negative thoughts, as well.
Eat and rest. It’s important that you get enough sleep and that you maintain a healthy diet, as they contribute to both physical and mental health.
Don’t isolate yourself. Take time to participate in activities you enjoy and to get together with friends and family.
Learn stress reduction techniques. Ask your therapist to recommend stress management techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises.
If you think you have body image disorder, the best thing you can do is open up and talk about it with a friend, loved one, or medical professional. Bringing light to body image struggles is the best way to find freedom from them.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, Executive Director at The Body Image Therapy Center.
Does the thought of driving home from work at 5 PM in complete darkness get you down? If so, you’re not alone. You’ve probably heard about the “winter blues”—when temperatures drop and the days get shorter, we stay indoors more often, we tire more easily, and we may feel a little melancholy. But it might be more than just “the blues” if you’re experiencing a persistent sadness that’s present most days and is interfering with your ability to function or engage in day-to-day activities. If this is a pattern that’s occurred for at least two years in a row and impacts you at the same time each year, it might be seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.
Nearly 20 percent of U.S. adult population experiences some level of seasonal depression. SAD is four times more common in women than in men, and the average age of onset is 20. People with SAD experience a drastic change in their overall mood during this time of the year, and in most cases, depression, anxiety, and fatigue occur. Other common symptoms include irritability, feelings of despair, decreased interest in socializing, inability to concentrate, increased appetite, and weight gain.
What causes seasonal affective disorder? SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter. As seasons change, some people experience a shift in their biological internal clock or circadian rhythm that causes them to be out of step with their daily schedule. SAD is far more prevalent in northern climates far from the equator, where there are fewer daylight hours in the winter.
Seasonal depression has a multi-faceted relationship with eating disorders. People suffering from seasonal affective disordered often report an increased appetite. Those cravings tend to be for foods that are higher in carbohydrates and rich in starch. They also report an escalation in these cravings when they’re depressed, anxious, or lonely. Combined with decreased energy and declining mood, these cravings can create a higher risk for binge eating behaviors. Research has shown that those with bulimia also have seasonal patterns of mood and appetite similar to those with SAD. If you find that winter weather is triggering eating disorder behaviors, be sure to rally your support system around you and seek professional help if you need it.
There are a number of effective treatment options for seasonal depression:
Phototherapy, or light therapy, is a commonly prescribed treatment for seasonal depression. The treatment involves sitting in front of a “light box” for approximately thirty minutes daily. Research has shown that light therapy can relieve the symptoms of seasonal depression in as many as 70% of cases.
Anti-depressant medications are highly effective in treating winter depression, and have been shown to improve mood, energy, and sleep patterns. One of the ways in which these medications work is by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.
Behavioral interventions can also be helpful in reducing symptoms of seasonal depression. If seasonal depression is getting your down, consider incorporating these strategies:
Engage in activities with friends and family each day to ward off feelings of loneliness or isolation.
Make it a point to get outside in the sunlight for at least a portion of the day, if possible. Schedule a walk with a co-worker during your lunch break or sit outside and read the paper.
Get plenty of sleep on a consistent schedule. Do your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep daily.
Avoid the use of alcohol or other substances, which can worsen depressive symptoms, complicate eating disorder symptoms, and disrupt your sleep.
Focus on the highlights of the season. This year, try looking for positive activities in which to get involved. Now is the perfect time to volunteer for a cause that’s important to you, plan a weekend getaway, or try a new activity like snow tubing or ice skating. You can even practice guided imagery or meditation—just because it’s frosty outside doesn’t mean you can’t imagine yourself relaxing on a warm beach! Try not wish away the winter season. Learn to live mindfully and you can enjoy what every time of year has to offer.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, Executive Director at The Body Image Therapy Center.
Valentine’s Day is all about love. It’s a day to shower our affections on those we cherish and to tell them how much they mean to us. We purchase special gifts, go out for dinner, or do something that demonstrates our deep affection for our loved ones. We’re pretty good at seeing what makes these folks so special and in expressing gratitude for their presence in our lives. So why are we typically not so good at appreciating ourselves?
There are some remarkable benefits to loving ourselves. When we learn to practice self-love every day, it’s amazing how our lives transform. We feel better and we think more clearly. Our sleep improves. We get the jobs we want. Our relationships heal, grow, and become more fulfilling. In short, our quality of life is greatly enhanced. Because loving ourselves is essential for our overall well-being and happiness, it seems obvious that we should focus on it. That sounds simple, but in reality, most of us find it difficult to love ourselves. Still, it’s worth the effort because we must love and accept ourselves before we can truly love and accept others.
How can you begin your journey of self-love? Just as any good relationship requires attention and needs to be nurtured over time, so does the relationship you have with yourself. Try these simple strategies to cultivate a deep appreciation for the special person you are:
Give yourself positive affirmations. Many of us are conditioned from an early age to be self-critical. We often develop low self-esteem and body image issues because we think we’re not “good” enough. We focus on our perceived flaws and we overlook our awesomeness. You can break these negative thought patterns by practicing affirmations each day. Much like physical exercise, they raise the level of feel-good hormones and push our brains to form new clusters of “positive thought” that override negativity. Each day, tell yourself out loud that you are strong, that you are miraculous, and that you love yourself just the way you are.
Make gratitude a habit. Make it a point to give thanks for something as soon as you wake up—to be alive, for a sunny morning, or to have a pet to love. Perform this exercise before you turn in at night, too. Keeping a gratitude journal is a wonderful way to chronicle all of the positives in your life, no matter whether they’re big or small. Flipping through your journal can also serve as a powerful mood enhancer anytime you’re feeling low.
Practice mindfulness and meditation. By simply sitting and connecting to the present moment through our breath, we become reacquainted with our mind and learn to drive it, rather than the other way around. Meditating can help you foster a kinder relationship with yourself, too.
Be your own best friend. Think about how supportive and empathetic you are with your friends. Have those same gentle, encouraging, and loving conversations with yourself.
It’s OK to put yourself first. How we treat ourselves unconsciously gives others permission to treat us accordingly. Make time on a regular basis to do the things you’re interested in and learn to say no to the things you don’t want to do. Read a book, go dancing with friends, or take a nap when you’re tired. When you don’t settle for being unappreciated, you’ll attract the love and affection you deserve.
Loving yourself is hard because nobody knows your mistakes and flaws like you do. It’s so easy to beat yourself up when you forget something or make a silly mistake. But be patient. Loving yourself is achievable. You’re awesome and there are plenty of people who know it. It’s time you knew it, too. Happy Valentine’s Day from you to you!
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, CEO at The Body Image Therapy Center. If you would like to get in touch with Andrew please call 877-674-2843 or email email@example.com.
I have clinical depression. Long before anyone diagnosed me with an eating disorder, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. It’s been 26 years since I began taking medication for this debilitating illness, and for the most part my life has been good since then. But the thing about depression, it’s cyclical. It comes on strong sometimes, breaking through the floor that my medication provides me.
During the depressed days and weeks, I hear the negative thoughts so clearly.
Nobody loves you.
You suck at everything.
The words are on repeat, spinning like a record in my dreams and waking moments alike. I’ve learned in therapy how to challenge these thoughts, providing evidence that I’m a worthwhile person and that these thoughts are just my depression talking. But what those without depression typically don’t understand is that all the psychological tools in the world are no match for the power of a deep depressive episode. You can’t outthink a mental health disease like this.
So what can you, the individual with depression, do? You need to ask for help. Waiting around for your depression to lift is miserable, and is a symptom of faulty thinking that you need to suffer alone. The help might come in the form of having someone simply hang with you and sit through the misery. It may mean getting in to see your doctor or psychiatrist for some medical help. It may mean asking folks to manage some personal and/or work issues for you while you battle the demons in your head. It may mean asking for messages of love and support on social media.
By opening yourself up to others when you’re feeling desperate, you get actual proof you deserve love, affection and attention. You get proof you are not alone in this fight. Depression is a disease of aloneness and isolation, and the best way to fight it is to do the opposite and bring people in.
So what can you, the loved one of someone with depression, do? You can step in even when the person with depression says they don’t want or need you there. Remember what I just said above, this is a disease of isolation. Sometimes, you have to do what you know is right for the benefit of the person who is struggling – even if it’s against what their disease is saying to them and to you. At age 19, I was in my first truly suicidal depressive state. I just wanted to be left to my despair, but my mother hauled me by the scruff of my neck to the psychiatrist. I was upset and angry, but somehow still grateful for my mother’s act of care. No, I didn’t show that I was grateful. But I was. Six weeks later, I was a new man. Medication can save lives. It saved mine. But the person who truly saved me was my mother. I only wish it had come sooner as my depression was active for years in retrospect.
If your loved one is already getting medical and clinical treatment, but still needs time for the depression to lift, your best action is to simply be present. Hovering and constantly checking in is typically felt as invasive, so don’t do that! But be available. Hang nearby. Read a book in the same room as your loved one. Watch TV together. Hold them and touch them if they want to be touched or held, but give them physical space if that’s what they need too. The act of love and care you are providing may not feel like much to you, but it’s vital to the person suffering to have you simply be there.
When it’s all said and done, depression comes and goes throughout the life span of those who struggle with the mental health disease. It sucks to have depression, but you don’t. Keep fighting, keep surviving, and reach out for help. You deserve it.
When I was growing up, I looked forward to Thanksgiving for the food. That’s it. It wasn’t about the family coming together. It was the pumpkin bread my mother made or the huge turkey drumstick I got to wield like a hammer as I gnawed on the flesh. Pretty normal for a kid. During my eating disorder years, I was filled with dread on Thanksgiving worrying that family and friends were judging me for how much food was on my plate. Seriously, that was the all-consuming thought. Turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes were ladled heavily with anxiety. I needed to have the “right amount” of food on my plate to please everyone around me and earn their love for it. Perfectionism, people pleasing, and anxiety suck. Just saying. It wasn’t until I was well into my 30s that Thanksgiving become something to look forward to.
As in many homes, our family’s tradition is to go around the table and share something we are thankful for. I used to try to be dig deep into my soul to identify my gratitude. I mean I was looking for that deep-down personal stuff, something that was totally unique to me. I wanted my “thanks” to move people and evoke something in others. Just as I wanted to please others with having the “right amount” on my plate, I wanted to have the “right” words to share. Perfectionism is still something I want to work on.
So, though it may be cliché and perhaps even a little sappy, here are some things I’m thankful for in no particular order.
My son asking me to help him shave this month for the first time.
My wife learning how to argue with me and call me on my … (you know what).
Though my mom is suffering from Alzheimer’s, she is still here and still giving good hugs.
Finding a killer location for our new Baltimore facility!
Playing music with some of the most talented musicians in Baltimore this year.
Smokey for putting out all those fires – you know who you are.
My father’s laugh, still one of my all-time favorites.
YouTube for teaching me better cooking techniques.
Staff who care as much as they do about healing those with mental and physical illness.
Audiobooks, or I don’t know how I’d survive my two-hour commute to DC and Virginia.
My inversion table – nothing feels better than spinal decompression at the end of the day.
Top down Jeep-ing, because life without a convertible makes me sad.
As busy college students, it can be difficult to find time to cook elaborate meals—especially if you don’t have access to a full kitchen. Luckily, most people have access to a microwave, which can cook meals quickly and with minimal mess. Everybody knows that you can microwave Bagel Bites, Ramen, or the remnants of yesterday’s Chipotle, but there are a lot of lesser-known nutritionally dense foods that you can add to your microwave repertoire!
Scrambled Eggs—Mix two eggs, a splash of low-fat milk, and some salt and pepper in a bowl with your fork. Microwave for 45 seconds, stir, and return to the microwave for 30-45 more seconds, until the eggs reach the desired consistency. If you’re craving something extra gourmet, try adding some spinach leaves, salsa, or shredded cheese. Eggs are one of the most inexpensive complete proteins on the market—complete with selenium, Vitamins D, B6, and B12, as well as zinc and iron!
“Baked” Sweet Potato—Wash your sweet potato well and pierce it with a fork about six to eight times. Wrap it loosely in a wet paper towel, place it on a plate, and microwave for 5-6 minutes, flipping it about halfway through. After it’s done cooking, cut it in half and add toppings such as a dab of low-fat butter, some salt and pepper, or shredded cheese. Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, Vitamin A, and potassium!
Steamed Asparagus—Chop asparagus spears into bite-sized chunks, and add to a microwave bowl with 1 tablespoon water and a splash of lemon juice. Microwave for 3-4 minutes, until tender, then add salt and pepper to taste. Asparagus is packed with Vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as fiber and tons of minerals!
Quinoa—Combine 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water and microwave in a covered bowl for 6 minutes. Stir, and microwave for 2 more minutes. After this, almost of the water should be absorbed into the grains. Let it sit for about 5 more minutes until the rest of the water is absorbed. Quinoa is a great source of non-meat protein, is a whole grain, and goes great with some microwaved veggies!
Popcorn—This is a classic that can’t be skipped! It’s a whole grain, makes a great study snack, and can be easily packed in a baggie to take with you on the run! Break out of the plain popcorn rut by adding your own flavoring—add a dash of Old Bay or taco seasoning, or try tossing it in a few tablespoons of buffalo sauce or Sriracha!
Cinnamon Apples—Slice an apple into thin slices (less than a centimeter thick), and spread them out on a microwave-safe plate. Dampen the slices with a bit of water, and add a sprinkle of cinnamon, and microwave for 2-3 minutes. Enjoy these on their own as a no-added-sugar dessert, or add them on top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream to add an extra punch of nutrients!
What’s your favorite thing to make in the microwave?
If you’d like more ideas for making healthy eating more convenient you can schedule an intake with our dietitians by calling our intake department at 877-674-2843 x 0 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“They don’t love him. They fear him. That’s the difference.” This line was delivered by Lorenzo, played by Robert De Niro, in the film A Bronx Tale as he tries to help his nine-year-old son understand the difference between a gangster, Sunny, who appears to be “loved” by the neighborhood citizens and his bus driver father who is “loved” by his regular riders. It’s an emotionally tough scene to watch as his son struggles to see the difference between the oppositional relationships. The boy clings to his father’s chest, arms and legs wrapped around his dad for protection and giving back that love the best way he could in that moment as they leave Sunny’s bar and head down the street to their home.
The scene hits me square in the face every time. So much of my life lessons came from fear, not love. My father was prone to demonstrations of rage, though he never hit. It was the fear of not having my dad’s love. The power of that relationship – whether it’s ingrained in our DNA or socially taught from books, movies and television shows – is tangible. And when that power is abused or neglected it can be destructive.
To be a man, to be masculine, to be strong and powerful the way I saw my dad, was so important to me. If I disappointed him, it crushed me. When I made him proud, even just throwing a baseball and hitting his glove dead center eliciting a thumbs up and “atta boy” from him, I felt on top of the world. Those moments were much fewer than the moments where I feared him or feared he would take his attention elsewhere – to work, to his cars, friends, his new family. I learned to adjust my behavior to avoid that fear – be the dutiful son, don’t make waves, don’t complain, be vociferously grateful for the few moments I got him to myself.
What I could never tell my dad all those decades ago was how much I needed his love, attention, and support. He never knew how lost I was without it. Only as an adult in my 40s was I able to convey to him what my childhood felt like, and his response was he never realized how much he wasn’t a part of it. We both lost out.
As a father now to my own teenage son, I see how much pride and joy I get from sharing time with my boy. The power of being a father is not just for the benefit of the child, it’s for the father as well! My sense of self is bolstered by expressing my love, teaching what I’ve learned about life and relationships, and knowing that he may be able to pass down those lessons to his children if he’s lucky enough to have them. He’s still a pain in the butt, and that’s good! He feels safe enough to challenge his boundaries without being reckless. I’m doing my job!
My eating disorder developed from multiple reasons, genetics being the key point. Society taught me, and both my parents reinforced, that thin is ideal and muscularity is the core of what makes me sexually valuable. But what really drove my behaviors home was my deep unmet need to be shown unconditional love the way Lorenzo showed his son rather than the fear of loss engendered by Sunny. I hope all fathers take a moment to figure out which model they’re demonstrating to their kids, and perhaps, pun intended, stay away from the Sunny side of the street.
School has just begun, and already we are seeing a number of clients in high school, college, and graduate school seeking eating disorder treatment at our program. Many require partial day, residential, or inpatient treatment. But our recommendations for level of care often fall flat for one reason alone, “I can’t leave school!”
Here is the reality – you are more important than a grade, an athletic team, or a school.
Perfectionism is a major component of eating disorder pathology. Eating disorder clients across the spectrum of diagnoses have this in common. From the third-year law student to the ninth grader trying to earn straight As, the drive to be “excellent” is powerful and overwhelming. The thought of not being in school and being a high achiever is a sign of their weakness and lack of control in life. But if you’re not healthy, how can you possibly give your best?
There’s another piece that you may be forgetting. School is supposed to be fun too! High school, well, it’s a challenging time socially of course. Finding out what’s important to you and how you fit into the world is hard for everyone to some degree or another. But it’s also filled with incredible moments of bonding, growth, discovery, and adventure if you embrace life without an eating disorder.
And what about college and graduate school? Those are often described as some of the best moments of people’s lives! The first taste of independence. Love. Friendships that move into adulthood. Futures begin to come into focus. Careers begin.
But how is that possible if you’re never really moving beyond your anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or compulsive exercise behaviors? How can you possibly create a vision of your independent life if you’re continually beholden to a dictator in your head?
You may think, “once the school year is over, I’ll get treatment during the summer.” But the longer you let an eating disorder go untreated or undertreated, the more ingrained it becomes and the longer and harder the road to full recovery becomes. The data is clear that those who do not fully treat their eating disorder are more likely to suffer the medical and mental health consequences for a lifetime – a lifetime much shorter and unhappier than most. At some point, you’ll have to make the decision to dig into the work of recovery which will require you to put treatment, and you, first. Why wait? That’s just more years of ill health and unhappiness. That’s more life lost.
There never really is a “perfect” time to seek treatment. Relationships, goals, expectations, obligations, holidays, tragedies, celebrations, and other roadblocks pop up constantly. Mental health issues are brain diseases. If you have a kidney disease, heart issue, or cancer, you don’t wait for the right time to treat it. You treat it now. The brain requires the same immediacy. Once you’re healthy in mind and body you can get back to your life and live it fully. Take the time off you school you need to recover. You deserve it.
Working to recover from an eating disorder is not easy, quick, or perfect. It challenges your patience, belief that recovery is worth it, and strength of your support systems. Because it is so much work, it’s common for a client to beat themselves up for a lapse back into a behavior. The trick to avoiding a relapse is to be compassionate with yourself after the fact.
First, what’s the difference between and lapse and a relapse? A lapse is when you slip up, return briefly to a behavior, and then work immediately to get back on track with your recovery efforts. A relapse is when you return completely to the old behaviors after trying to moderate or eliminate them.
Most folks in treatment will experience lapses. As a client works to understand and deal with underlying issues related to their eating disorder, emotions can run amok! Your treatment team expects it. As part of your treatment, you family and friends will learn about the illness as well and come to understand the ups and downs of the recovery process as well.
Your treatment team and support systems are there to help you, which also means holding you accountable for working hard. But that doesn’t mean they are mad at you. They all know it’s a long, hard journey to physical and mental health. The person who usually struggles most with that understanding is the client.
Perfectionism is incredibly common with eating disorder cases. Doing everything just right and being a model client is the modus operandi treatment providers are used to seeing, and that perfectionism is what interrupts to the treatment process most. One of the key goals of treatment is accepting all the beautiful “flaws” of our shared humanity – body and mind.
So, practice some compassion for yourself. You’re not perfect. You never will be. You’ll lapse from time to time in treatment, and maybe even throughout your life. It’s part of having an eating disorder. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not the end of your day. Maybe, it’s not even the end of your meal! Practice some self-care. Apologize to yourself for a minute, show some love to yourself, and repeat these words, “Nobody’s perfect.”