Can you identify some things you shouldn’t be doing? Do you tell yourself “no” on a consistent basis? Do you categorize certain foods as “bad” and try helplessly to avoid them? Is thinking about the answers to these questions causing you to feel a bit discouraged at failed attempts to change?
One of my strongest beliefs about eating disorder recovery and developing a healthy relationship with food and your body is that the challenges to be overcome are as much about saying “yes” to things as they are saying “no” to things.
A person may need to say “no” to eating behaviors such as restricting, purging, or binge eating, but each of those behaviors are also serving a function and meeting a need. The primary challenge is to identify the need being met (comfort? relief from boredom? a way to feel carefree?) and to begin saying “yes” to something else that will more sufficiently meet that need. Do you need to explore your spiritual self to gain more of a sense of daily purpose and meaning? Do you need to spend more time on fun and less time being productive and crossing items off of a list that never gets completed? Do you need something that is truly refreshing physically and/or mentally?
Next, experiment. Vow to try three other things first before you go to your problem behavior. Don’t expect change to happen overnight, so if you still end up doing the problem behavior, at least you’ve tried something else too that could end up being a more effective strategy in the long run. As your disordered eating patterns shift toward a more positive relationship with food, you may find yourself saying “yes” more often to adequate portions of enjoyable food, movement that energizes you, and to fun activities and experiences that leave you feeling truly full and satisfied.
What do you need to say “yes” to more often?