Eating Disorder Prevention
If you feel like you or a loved one has disordered eating, may be on the way to an eating disorder, or has poor body image, here are a few things that might help.
1. Educate yourself about eating disorders. Learning about the consequences both mentally and medically can have a big impact. A few people I know increased their motivation to "get better" once they learned their anorexia may impact their fertility.
2. Think about what you really want and need. Do you need to be in control of your food or weigh X amount of pounds to be happy? Eating disorders certainly don't equal happiness. Begin to explore what does. Maybe its validation from others, confidence, a sense of control over your life in general, etc that is being masked by a different idea of what might make you happy. Once you realize what might actually make you happy, you can take a different route to get there.
3. Challenge the ways in which media/society may alter the way we think/feel about our bodies. Begin to recognize what might not be so healthy or "real." Challenge the ideas that more weight= bad, less weight = good. Who pronounced this to be true? Why is this the standard?
4. Similarly, stop categorizing food as "good" and "bad" or calling yourself "good" or "bad" for eating them. You weren't "so bad for eating a doughnut today." Accepting the idea that there are no bad foods, and everything can be eaten (even the healthiest food) in moderation should change your perspective on how you feel about yourself and your body.
5. Stop talking about your body! And what you ate today.. and yesterday.. and how your thighs are fat and your stomach is huge. We spend a lot more time than we need to focusing on our bodies, putting them under immense scrutiny, and that focus tends to be negative. Next time you compliment a friend, will you tell her how great she looks in that dress? Or can you tell her what a great friend she is and happy you are to see her.
6. When we do talk about our bodies, we should note our language and aim for positive body image. The words we use have a big impact, for example, instead of saying your legs are fat or big, you might say they are strong. Appreciate your body and all that it does for you. Your legs carry you everywhere you want to go. How can you hate your stomach when its there to digest your food?
7. Value yourself for things other than your body, and stop judging others based on theirs. Are you intelligent, kind, giving, caring, talented, hard-working? Recognize and appreciate these things in yourself. When you walk down the street, do you see someone who looks a certain way and judge them for it? If their body is not the ideal body, do you equate that with something negative? Many people do this without thinking because when we are constantly criticizing our own, we look for it in others.
8.Seek help. When you find that your thinking is not as it should be, or you are struggling with some of these things, reach out. Tell a friend, a parent, a spouse. Find a therapist with expertise in the field. Asking someone for help is sometimes the best way you can help yourself.