Updated: Aug 24, 2021
It's estimated that around 28 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime.
Eating disorders are alarmingly common, but they're still shrouded in stigma. This means that people suffering from eating disorders are less likely to seek help until they lose control. The truth is, eating disorders are about breaking those habits that constitute or make up a pattern that we call disordered.
This article is about recognizing those habits and tackling them head-on. Keep reading, and I'll take you through some of the ways to break those difficult eating disorder behaviors.
What Is an Eating Disorder?
Before we get into how to break habits, let's look at what an eating disorder actually is. The American Psychiatric Association defines eating disorders in terms of severe and persistent behavioral patterns around eating and food that cause feelings of distress.
The key term here is "behavioral patterns." These disorders are simply behaviors towards eating and food that are mentally and physically unhealthy.
There's a common misconception that eating disorders are only restrictive. But there are multiple types of eating disorders that have complex causes and various manifestations.
Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa do involve restrictive behaviors like limiting food intake. However, others, like bulimia nervosa, may involve binging and purging food and are often accompanied by feelings of guilt and the need to punish oneself for eating.
There isn't a single cause that leads to developing an eating disorder. There is a complex web of causes, including societal, psychological, genetic, and cultural factors. But they often stem from severe trauma and the need for control.
However they manifest, eating disorders can be incredibly harmful and distressing to those who experience them and their loved ones.
Breaking Eating Disorder Behaviors
As I've already mentioned, eating disorders are essentially made up of a series of unhealthy and persistent behaviors. It's good to think of these as harmful habits that you can learn to beat instead of the eating disorder controlling you. Here are a few tips that I've used in managing my eating habits.
Identify Your Triggers
Triggers are factors that lead you down the path to disordered eating behaviors. Maybe it's social media, speaking to a certain group of friends, or looking at yourself in the mirror. You can't avoid triggers for the rest of your life, but it's important to identify what exactly leads to the behavior so that you're able to make peace with it and eventually control it.
Write Down Your Reasons
When you're starting on your recovery journey, it's going to be really tough to muster up a positive attitude. It can be really annoying when people tell you to keep your chin up and don't recognize how difficult this process can actually be.
But it's important to keep a little flicker of hope, no matter how small, that you will conquer this mountain. The best way to do that is to write reminders to yourself about why you've decided to get well and how worthy you are outside of your relationship with food. These reminders can be made into little lists or plastered around your home in sticky notes.
Recovering from an eating disorder can be an incredibly lonely process. That's why it's important to surround yourself with a community of people who understand how difficult recovery can be.
Joining a support group or seeking the help of a life coach is a great way to find support. It's also a wonderful source of tips and tricks for how to tackle bad habits.
Remember, You've Got This
Wherever you are in the process, it's essential to remember that you are not your eating disorder. The eating disorder behaviors that you've formed can also be broken with some hard work and some good support. If you're in need of a support structure or advice about your eating disorder, get in touch today.