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5 Tips For Managing Your Eating Disorder Triggers

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Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

I have lived with an eating disorder that has developed and transformed over time for more than 13 years.  Everyday life can be so triggering when you are recovering from an eating disorder, because you have to face your fear three or more times a day.  Not to mention that you are confronted with diet culture triggers just about everywhere you go– including in your own home with the way the media infiltrates just about everything you consume.

However, while it is difficult, managing these triggers is possible.  The following five tips help me on a daily basis to fight the eating disorder triggers I face, and I hope that they can help you too.

1. Name your eating disorder

When I was in partial hospitalization treatment, one of the most impactful things that my therapist had me do was put a name and face to my eating disorder.  By separating my eating disorder from my true self, I have been able to distinguish my eating disorder thoughts from my true thoughts and call out my eating disorder when I am triggered.  Take some time and create a character for your eating disorder— whether that is in writing, art, etc.,– and begin to separate yourself from your eating disorder.

This makes it so much easier to call out your eating disorder when you are struggling with triggers.

2. Voice what you are feeling

Eating disorders thrive in secrecy, and I know that my eating disorder loves it when I internalize her thoughts and hide my behaviors from those around me.  One way to combat this is to voice what you are feeling or thinking in the moment.

If you are with someone who is a trusted part of your recovery, tell them that you are feeling triggered and voice what your eating disorder is telling you.  Eating disorders hate being called out and voicing what you are experiencing in the moment will help you to identify your triggers and work through the thoughts and possible behaviors that may be connected to those triggers.

3. Use affirmations

Using affirmations may seem cliché, but they are something that helps me a ton when I experience triggers in my everyday life. By using affirmations, you can change your internal automatic thoughts over time.  One thing that I created is an affirmation card that I carry with me wherever I go. Think of, or look up, affirmations that resonate with you and write them down on an index card. When you notice yourself having eating disorder thoughts, take out your card and recite the affirmations to yourself multiple times.  Eventually you can memorize your affirmations and think of them whenever you are triggered.

Here are some of my favorite affirmations that might help you as well:

“My weight does not define my worth.”

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

“Food is medicine.”

4. Remind Yourself of the Things You Love

When I am triggered, I often feel like I become lost in my eating disorder thoughts.  My sole focus becomes my body, food and control, and I forget about the things that I love and that I’m passionate about.  Reminding yourself of your passions, dreams and the things that you love can quiet the eating disorder thoughts and shift your focus.

5. Share Your Story or Thoughts and Feelings

Sharing your experience with others is extremely empowering and can help you create connection while also inspiring others. When you find yourself triggered, breathe through the moment, use your affirmations, and then later on join one of the eating disorder support groups available on Facebook or on The Mighty and share what you experienced when you were triggered. Using this technique has helped me to feel like I have a purpose in sharing my experience with others, and that empowerment often overpowers my eating disorder thoughts.  It is nice to have an outlet where I don’t feel so controlled by my eating disorder, and I hope that sharing your story brings you the same satisfaction.

Living with an eating disorder can be brutal.  Food and eating are such important aspects of our everyday life, and in recovery it can be daunting to navigate your triggers while facing your fears multiple times a day.  However, it is possible to navigate those triggers while pursuing recovery, and I hope that my tips help you as much as they help me.  You are not alone!  I have faith that you can do this.  Keep on keeping on.

Lead image courtesy of Getty Images

Originally published: April 27, 2021
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