Last month I sent a newsletter and really appreciated the positive response. It’s great to know that what I wrote resonated with many readers, and because of that feedback I want to share what I had written here on the blog.
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As I thought about what I’d want to share for April’s newsletter, my mind kept going back to how many of you are likely struggling with an increase in negative food and body image thoughts right now. Some of you may be experiencing more urges to use eating disorder behaviors, feeling compelled to make new food rules, or wanting to “fix” your body in some way.
Perhaps these thoughts are particularly distressing because they feel at odds with your goals for eating disorder recovery, or because you are choosing to navigate food and body image concerns using a non-diet, weight-inclusive approach.
Here’s what I want you to know: negative food and body image thoughts may never go away. While you can see a decrease in intensity, duration and frequency, I’d strongly encourage you not to base your “success” on the thoughts you are having. Full recovery isn’t the absence of thoughts or urges to use disordered eating behaviors, it’s choosing to never put them in the driver’s seat.
If you are prone to having negative food and body image thoughts, stressful life events will make you vulnerable to experiencing them more intensely and more often. That doesn’t mean you’ve gone backwards or are relapsing, it means that life is hard and controlling food and your body is a very common coping strategy.
A thought isn’t truth, it’s just a thought. Thoughts are just activity of the mind, not who you are. You can ask yourself if that thought is helpful or unhelpful, or in-line with what you value and want for yourself. This would necessitate possibly revisiting your recovery goals and the values you’ve created around food and body image.
Full recovery means having healthy boundaries with potentially triggering situations – you won’t want to start tracking your food or weighing yourself, because those would be unsafe for someone with a history of disordered eating. And if you are struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out and communicate with your support system – friends, family, trusted health professionals and/or your treatment team.
All of this to say, go easy on yourself with the increase in negative food and body image thoughts. They don’t say anything about you. I’d encourage you to use them as an OPPORTUNITY to keep yourself safe and recommit to yourself, to your values, and to your recovery goals.
Stay safe out there, friend!