Admissions Call: 1-800-863-7224 x 803 Fax: 703-649-3599 information@prosperityedwell.com

Adjusting to Summer in Eating Disorder Recovery

Woman on the Beach

The Sun is beaming down on us way more than what we have been used to, people are wearing lesser clothing, and we are starting to hear the phrase “bikini body” said way too much… Summertime is here.

Summer is an exciting time for many people, but the people in eating disorder recovery are not always feeling the same levels of excitement.

Here are some ways to help adjust both mentally and physically to the sunshine-filled season of Summer while in recovery from your eating disorder.

Shut Down The Diet Talk

Warmer weather means people will be wearing less clothing to remain comfortable outdoors. This time of year, diet talk seems to come up more and more everywhere you go. First off, what exactly is diet talk? Diet Talk is exactly what it sounds like. It is the conversation among others on restrictive dieting, working out, and nutritional adjustments made in someone’s life to change their body shape/size/weight. Diet talk can also be as subtle as someone saying that they are “so bad” for eating dessert last night or that they’re going to need to “work off all the calories” after a meal. When people are wearing lesser clothing, they tend to drop diet talk around A LOT. We often hear the phrase “Summer Body” come out a lot at this time of year, as people are concerned with feeling that they must look a certain way for others due to having to wear less clothing. The truth is that we already have our Summer bodies. We have our Summer bodies just as we do our Fall, Winter, and Spring bodies. There is absolutely nothing that changes in between the seasons besides how you dress to keep your body comfortable!

So, what do you do when small talk gets too “diet-y”?

Tune it out and simply change the subject.

For example, you’re at a cookout and a friend brings up the new diet that they started for the Summer. They are mentioning that they are doing this to look good in a bikini. Here’s what you can say: “I’d really like to talk about something new with you! I would love to hear what you have been up to these days! Have you done anything fun lately or gone on any trips that you can tell me about?” By doing this you’ve tuned out the diet talk and have switched the conversation over to a new focus on catching up with your friend. Or, if you’d like to be more direct, you could say, “I have struggled with body image issues before and I don’t feel comfortable discussing this. Can we talk about something else?” By being direct with how you feel about the conversation, you have made it clear to your friend that you will not be partaking in any sort of diet talk with them. It’s not rude to switch the subject or completely avoid it, you are doing this for your well-being. Always remember that diet talk belongs to our very broken diet culture, not to you.

 

Wear Clothing That You Feel Comfortable In

Your physical comfort is a priority! If you don’t want to wear a bikini to the pool or beach, you don’t need to! If you feel more comfortable in shorts and a tee-shirt, then wear that! Summertime might involve having to wear lesser clothing, but that doesn’t mean that you must stick to a certain dress code. Clothing should never make you feel constricted either. If something is too tight or the fabric just doesn’t feel right, opt out for something different to wear that you can move freely in! Comfort is always key!

 

Unfollow Social Media Accounts That Are Negatively Affecting Your Body Image

If you’re seeing posts on your feed that trigger negative thoughts about your body image, you can unfollow them to protect your mental health and well-being. Being exposed to content involving weight loss stories, fitness routines, or people in their bathing suits can trigger those in eating disorder recovery. Being envious can come naturally when taking a look at other people’s lifestyles. This feeling of envy can quickly become very destructive and damaging to your feelings of self-worth and how you view your body! If an account is making you anxious or questioning how you feel about yourself in a negative way, it’s time to hit “unfollow.” Your mental health will thank you in the end.

 

Secure A Trustworthy Support System

It is always best to have a strong support system of people that you can trust and be open with about your feelings and struggles while in eating disorder recovery. You can rely on your support system, whether it may be a friend, family member, or even your therapist to be there for you in times that feel stressful. Your support system of trustworthy allies can help you breathe through stressful situations, help you redirect your focus, and be there for you when you need them most. Whether they be the people you call on the phone to discuss your thoughts and emotions or be the people that you ask to attend an event with you so that they can assist you in engaging in conversation that isn’t revolving around diet talk, they will be there for you when you need someone to lean on for support when you need it.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder this Summer or beyond, please reach out for help. 

Virginia’s Premier Day Treatment And Intensive Outpatient Treatment Centers

Prosperity Eating Disorders & Wellness Center specializes in the treatment of eating disorders while offering evidence-based, comprehensive, ethical, and individualized treatment to all ages, ethnicities, genders, and eating disorders. Our goal is to help sufferers find a full recovery by meeting their psychological, nutritional, emotional, and relational needs. We specialize in treating Anorexia, Bulimia, EDNOS, Orthorexia, and Binge Eating Disorder. With locations in Herndon and Norfolk, Prosperity is equipped to serve the needs of adolescents and adults throughout Virginia. 

Get started with Prosperity Eating Disorders & Wellness Center today!

10 Common Eating Disorder Myths Debunked

10 Common Eating Disorder Myths Debunked

Eating disorders are surrounded by a very large number of myths and misconceptions that make the importance and severity of an eating disorder very difficult to fully understand. Read below as we debunk 10 of the most common eating disorder myths!

MYTH: Only teenagers have eating disorders.

FACT: Eating disorders affect all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, cultures, sexual orientations, body shapes and sizes, geographical locations, educational statuses, and socioeconomic statuses. Eating disorders do not discriminate, there is no immunity against other demographic segments.

MYTH: Eating disorders are a choice or “lifestyle.”

FACT: No one decides that they want to have an eating disorder. There is no exact cause for one developing an eating disorder. Eating disorders are generally believed to be caused by a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

 

MYTH: Males don’t risk the development of an eating disorder.

FACT: About one in three people suffering from an eating disorder are male. In the United States, studies show that eating disorders will affect 10 million males at some point in their lives.

 

MYTH: People with an eating disorder are just in a phase and will eventually just grow out of it.

FACT: Eating disorders are not a phase or a choice made by someone. Eating disorders are serious, complex, and potentially life-threatening mental and physical illnesses that require professional attention to be effectively treated.

 

MYTH: Parents are to blame if their child develops an eating disorder.

FACT: There is no evidence that parenting style and actions are the cause of their child developing an eating disorder. Eating disorders develop from a combination of factors. Parents are not to blame but they are crucial to recovery.

 

MYTH: Strict dieting is nothing to be concerned about.

FACT: What appears to be a strict diet on the outside may actually be the beginning of an eating disorder. Chronic dieting has been associated with the later development of an eating disorder, so addressing these issues right away may prevent a fully developed eating disorder.

MYTH: You can look at someone and tell if they have an eating disorder.

FACT: Individuals of any body shape and size can suffer from an eating disorder. There is no distinct body size or shape that can distinguish whether or not someone has an eating disorder.

 

MYTH: Purging is an effective way to lose weight.

FACT: Purging restricts your body from digesting your food properly and will not result in effective weight loss. Purging is a very dangerous behavior that is associated with medical conditions that have an impact on one’s teeth, gastrointestinal system, esophagus, kidneys, skin appearance, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, and eyes.

 

MYTH: An eating disorder is no big deal.

FACT: Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. One suffering from an eating disorder may face medical complications from binge eating, purging, starvation, and over-exercising. Suicide is also very common among individuals suffering from an eating disorder.

 

MYTH: Children aren’t affected by eating disorders.

FACT: Eating disorders affect all age groups, as well as children. Eating disorders can cause significant damage to a child’s body, affecting their physical growth which is an important component of childhood. The rates of eating disorders among young girls and boys under the age of 12 have been growing in the past several years.

5 Effective Coping Skills for Recovery

5 Effective Coping Skills for Recovery

fortune teller

5 Effective Coping Skills to Assist Your Journey to Recovery

Recovery is a journey. Recovery takes time. Recovery is your journey that you live and control day to day. Throughout this time, life stressors that you may not be able to control come into play and you may feel as if they are acting as a halt in the direction you were headed throughout your recovery journey. Life stressors may include starting back up at school, starting a new job or leaving a current one, an increase in financial obligations, taking care of an elderly family member, moving to a new home, worrying about a touchy conversation you need to have with someone, or even relationship stress. Facing this stress, it feels quite easy to rely on disordered coping skills. However, these disordered coping skills can mentally and physically play a negative impact on recovery. With an eating disorder and partaking in disordered coping skills, one’s eating disorder symptoms could heighten. Practicing healthy coping skills with your eating disorder will aid to the longevity of your wellness and nourishment journey. 

 

Here are 5 effective and healthy coping skills to handle those stressful bumps in the road that life may present in your path while you are on the road to your recovery:

 

  1. Did someone say Self-Care? Make yourself your own priority! Wash your face, brush out your hair, put on a face mask, and hop in that bath tub! Light your favorite candle. Enjoy Mother-Earth and the sunshine she has to offer by taking a walk outside and enjoying some fresh air. Listen to the soothing sound of the rain hitting your windows and meditate for 10 minutes. Get cozy and read a new book. Tidy up your living space, rearrange your closet or organize your dresser. Cook yourself one of your favorite meals or bring out your favorite family relative’s cookie recipe! Allow yourself 7-8 hours of sleep, being well-rested will aid in avoiding triggers.

2. Start a new hobby or activity, or return to one you truly enjoyed in the past. Run to Michael’s, grab a canvas and paint something beautiful, get creative! Start a new DIY project for something that would look great in your home, or something you can give to someone as a gift! Inquire through social media or online for a local book club if you enjoy a great read with people that share the same passion as you. Gather friends and family for a once-a-week game night, such as bowling, roller skating. You could even form a kickball team! Find your passion!

3. Journal it out! Keep a journal handy to write about your day. Write about your daily thoughts, emotions, something encouraging someone said to you that day, three things that you are thankful for.

 4. Recognize the way that you speak to yourself. Whether it be about your body, the food that you eat, or your actions. Write down the negative thought, and for every negative thought, on a separate piece of paper (let’s say a sticky-note) write down three positive thoughts about yourself. Now, throw away that negative thought and remove it from your mind-space as it falls into the trash, crumbled up and left behind. Take that sticky note with your three positive thoughts about yourself and place that on your mirror. Leave it there! Look at yourself in the mirror and read these positive thoughts out loud. Remind yourself how awesome you are. Speak these thoughts into existence to yourself and they will become a part of you! Self doubt and self blame will not cure your eating disorder. Uplift yourself. 

5. Reach out and lean on the community you have built around yourself of friends, family, loved ones, and others going through their own road to recovery. Associate yourself with those that you can trust. These people can help carry you throughout your journey when times don’t feel as easy or fair as they should to you. Allow them and involve them in your healthy coping mechanisms. You will be able to rely on these people when you allow them in, giving them your trust and them giving you theirs!

 

 

Sources:

3 tips for coping with triggers in Eating disorder recovery. National Eating Disorders Association. (2018, February 21). https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/3-tips-coping-triggers-eating-disorder-recovery. 

About eating disorders. Eating Disorder Foundation.org. (n.d.). https://eatingdisorderfoundation.org/learn-more/about-eating-disorders/coping/. 

To cope with stress, Try Learning Something new. Harvard Business Review. (2019, November 26). https://hbr.org/2018/09/to-cope-with-stress-try-learning-something-new. 

 

Coming Home from Treatment

There have been many times that a client, fresh from residential treatment or partial hospitalization, has told me that he or she is surprised to return home to find that nothing has really changed. Life around them is still the same. Sure, they learned some skills in treatment but it didn’t solve the life challenges that can be so triggering. Sometimes in the moment emotions are so overwhelming that our first instinct is to return to the coping mechanism that’s become so ingrained in our daily existence. One client actually told me that she didn’t see a point in working so hard on recovery if nothing around her was going to change. She would rather cling to the one thing that’s been consistent in her life: her eating disorder.

Eating disorders are about different things for different people, and at some point in every sufferer’s journey they serve a purpose. For the person who has a difficult home life, the eating disorder may be where she retreats for comfort and control in the chaos. For the person with perfectionistic tendencies who has found that he can’t possibly excel at everything, the eating disorder is something he has complete power over and therefore can excel at. This is part of what makes eating disorders so difficult to give up- underneath the physical and psychological wreckage are definite reasons that hanging on to the illness is reasonable and even necessary.

The problem is that on some level we know that the eating disorder cannot be sustained. We cannot continue to restrict food and expect to live. We cannot binge and purge or over-exercise and expect to lead a healthy, high-functioning life. The physical body clings to every morsel of nourishment and may seem to be able to run on fumes indefinitely. Eventually, the body will crash but the mind will continue to come up with what seem like totally rational reasons to keep pushing. Sometimes, not even hospitalization is enough to spur a leap into recovery.

Life can be a shock for people returning to home, school, or work after inpatient or residential treatment. There is something of a protective bubble in higher levels of care. The intensive treatment provides a safe place for recovery to begin and skills to be learned. It is one thing to apply skills in the treatment milieu or even in family therapy sessions, but it is far another to try to apply them in the overwhelming situations that life can throw at us. According to a study discussed in the Science of Eating Disorders, following intensive residential treatment most women noticed a reduction in behaviors (i.e. they were able to maintain a healthy weight) but cognitive symptoms and thought patterns were still very much present. The cognitive changes that allow us to be able to handle life without the eating disorder take much more time to develop, which is why a solid outpatient program is so important.

The Science of Eating Disorders article lists the major factors that assist people in maintaining recovery:

  • Social support: maintaining connections with family, friends, and treatment team

  • Skills application: continued practice of assertiveness, communication, and meal planning skills

  • Stepping outside oneself: returning to work or school, volunteering, working on higher values all help the focus return to life rather than eating disorder.

Not surprisingly, one major factor that inhibits maintained recovery is loss of support and lack of structure. The importance of these cannot be overstated. People with eating disorders must engage treatment and refuse isolation, even on the worst days. This takes courage and often a profound show of “acting as if” until it becomes easier. Especially as clients return to challenging life situations, the right support can make all the difference.

Science of Eating Disorders (2012). Maintaining Change Following Intensive Eating Disorder Treatment. www.scienceofeds.org

 

Social Media: A Catalyst for Eating Disorder Recovery?


 
We live in a media driven culture with an endless supply of TV shows, internet sites, and phone apps to keep us busy every minute. These platforms are used to deliver messages meant to persuade, inspire, and entertain. Many of these messages contain images of men and women airbrushed to perfection….and it is that very image of perfection that haunts us as we study our own bodies and make comparisons.
 
To say that the internet has influenced body image is an understatement. In recent years, the rise of pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia websites has glorified eating disorders and praised the behaviors that keep sufferers locked in the illness. The Social Issues Research Centre (www.sirc.org) reports that these “pro-ana” websites target individuals who consider their eating disorders to be lifestyles, something to maintain and celebrate. Users share tips on how to engage behaviors and provide support for each other’s illnesses. For individuals who are in recovery, websites like this can be seriously detrimental. Some people in recovery refuse to engage in social media at all, citing the prevalence of hashtags like #thighgap and #thinspogram as just a few of many reasons to shelter themselves from the social media revolution. USA Today (www.usatoday.com) shares the story of Donna, who is in recovery from bulimia. Afraid to expose herself to the kinds of comparisons that fueled her illness, Donna has decided to stay away from popular social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.
 
While it’s clear that social media and pro-eating disorder websites have played a part in our global obsession with obtaining perfection, more and more websites  dedicated to positive body image and recovery are beginning to pop up. Someone searching for eating disorder tips may stumble upon a recovery website or blog and be drawn into a story of hope….leading to the inspiration to begin recovery. The National Eating Disorders Association (www.nationaleatingdisorders.org) shares the story of one woman who came across the NEDA website in her search for a pro-eating disorder community….a lucky accident that turned out to be the catalyst for her recovery. Nonprofit organizations dedicated to awareness and advocacy use the power of the internet to spread positive body image messages. Eating disorder treatment centers are also getting involved in the awareness movement, offering blogs, webinars, and professional events designed to educate and inspire.
 
Instagram is also proving to be a powerful recovery tool. An online photo-sharing service, Instagram users can visually communicate their lives to their followers. Some individuals in recovery have turned their Instagram accounts into recovery accounts. The Atlantic (www.theatlantic.com) describes this type of account as a place where users can gain support while maintaining as much anonymity as they would like. Some people don’t use their real names, and others find that it’s easier to open up and share initially in an online environment. Recovery accounts document the progress users are making through pictures of meals, inspirational messages, and even pictures of users’ bodies as they work toward weight restoration. Support from followers during the recovery journey can be motivating and provide comfort during difficult periods.
 
Although social media can be a positive recovery tool, users must be vigilant and pay attention to their triggers. Any concerning thoughts and behaviors should be taken seriously and addressed with a treatment team.
 
 
Totally In Control: The Rise of Pro-Ana/Pro-Mia Websites. Social Issues Research Centre, www.sirc.org
 
Rojas, M. (2014). Social Media Helps Fuel Some Eating Disorders. USA Today, www.usatoday.com
 
Kay, J. (2014). How Social Media Led Me to Recovery. National Eating Disorders Association, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
 
Mirhashem, M. (2015). Overcoming an Eating Disorder with Instagram. The Atlantic, www.theatlantic.com
 

 

Subscribe to Our Newsletter
We respect your privacy.