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5 Steps to Take Back Control From an Eating Disorder

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1. Get curious about the parts of yourself that are at war with each other.

You have an “inner critic” that wants to control what you eat. When it starts chattering in your mind about what you “should and shouldn’t” eat or do, start by just noticing how much it’s trying to control your life and the messages it’s sending you. This part internalized negative messages that you received as a child, such as “I’m not good enough” or the thoughts that you had to be perfect in order to be loved. This part internalized societal messages of thin-privilege, that your weight was a measure of your value and being “fat” meant you were lazy and worthless. Get curious about how it’s trying to protect you by trying to control everything around you. This part has been working very hard to keep you in line. Thank this part for trying so hard to protect you, and give it a rest.

2. Get to know your emotional, wounded part that turns to food for escape, comfort, safety or reward.

This could be a traumatized child part that learned to self-soothe with food when it didn’t feel safe and connected with primary caregivers, or it experienced neglect, abuse or other complex trauma. Get curious about this part that feels afraid and turns inward for comfort. This part learned that food is predictable whereas people are not. This part learned to isolate and feel safe alone with its yummy treats. It learned to escape uncomfortable feelings and emotions by turning to food — its best friend. This part needs to feel safe and not so lonely. This part needs nurturing, healing and comfort in other loving ways.

3. Practice identifying with the part of you that observes these other parts.

This part is the Observer. This is your higher, spiritual self that notices when the other parts are disturbed or triggered. This is your true, authentic self that intuitively knows your problems and solutions are not about food. This is the part that is whole, peaceful and centered. The path of food freedom is not a destination. This Observer part knows that you’re already on the path. The path is a state of being. It’s the other parts that don’t know, because they are stuck in trauma time. They are stuck in fight, flight, freeze or submit. They are not rationally thinking parts; they’re just trying to survive and do what they learned.

4. Spend more conscious time as the Observer.

Pay attention to the other parts’ chatter. From this position you are taking a step back and not identifying as much with the negative beliefs (messages such as “I’m not good enough” or emotionally overwhelming sensations such as anxiety, rage or fear) that are held by these wounded parts. When these thoughts arise, just notice, without judgment, and let them go. Don’t follow them down the rabbit hole. If you do, just be aware and continue to take your Observer seat as if you’re watching a movie of your mind. This is the part that is aware it’s observing. You are fully conscious and present in this state of being.

5. The more you can identify with the Observer part of your self, the more present you will be.

You will no longer identify with the wounded parts that need to escape negative thoughts and emotions. You will be fully aware and alive to contribute to the world, participate in your life and no longer need to seek safety and comfort with food as you will be on the path of food freedom. Keep practicing being. Keep observing. It’s a process and a practice. Notice when you’re not on the path and simply get back on.

For fun, insightful exercises to get to know and heal your wounded parts, visit

Getty image by Punnarong

Originally published: May 26, 2021
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