It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb 21-27 2016). As an individual recovered from Binge-Eating Disorder, I find myself reflecting on my journey and looking ahead to where I’d like to “go” next.
My disordered eating behaviors began in elementary and middle school, long before I developed a full-blown eating disorder. That’s often the way it begins. Unhealthy attitudes about weight and shape develop, as do rigid ideas about what foods are “good” and “bad”. Over time, an individual begins to experiment with different diets or stops listening to their body’s need for food, hydration, and rest/movement. Underlying these attitudes and behaviors are confused thoughts and uncomfortable emotions. The disordered eating becomes a way of suppressing the thoughts and numbing the emotions. Eventually, for some individuals, those behaviors take on a life of their own and magnify one’s difficulties. The more one tries to control one’s weight and shape, the more out of control life becomes.
I’m blessed to have had caring mentors, counselors, professors, family members, and friends who helped me on the path towards recovery. While I am now completely recovered from Binge-Eating Disorder (no longer binge-eating, restricting, or conflating my weight with my self-worth), my body image occasionally needs a boost. As adept as I am at aiming a critical eye towards the media and as quickly as I can dismiss the false notion that “thin is better”, I still have days when I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see. On those days, I’m forced to open up my “toolbox” and try a combination of things to improve my body image.
The National Eating Disorders Association has a wonderful list on their website called “10 Steps to Positive Body Image”. Click here. One of my favorites is to keep a list of the top ten things you like about yourself, being sure to include things that aren’t related to your physical body. When I did this activity two years ago, it morphed into a list of qualities that make me ME: “I am a child of God, blessed with many gifts of the Spirit: awareness, compassion, curiosity, creativity, enthusiasm, intelligence, and wonder.” This is one of the “tools” I pull out of my toolbox when my body image is suffering. It reminds me that I am more than the sum of my physical parts, more than my physical appearance.
How will you love your body today? Take a look at the website and see if any activities resonate for you.
Peace, joy, and health,