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  • Dina Cohen

5 Magic Tricks for Recovery

While I can't wave a magic wand, I can offer these!

Be Honest

Eating disorders are like mold. Yucky, I know. But they thrive in dark and hidden places. Keeping secrets will keep the eating disorder alive, and so being honest with your therapist, dietitian, and support people is essential in recovery. It can feel very hard, but talking openly about your struggles and behaviors will give you the chance to heal. Although you may feel ashamed, chances are that your team will have heard it all before, anyway! You are unlikely to be the first person they've met who engages in these behaviors. Also remember that slipping back to an old behavior might not seem like something you must share, especially if you feel like it's a choice and that you aren't out of control, but unhealthy behaviors can easily take hold and drag you back. Bring your challenges to light so that you can successfully move past them.

Be Patient

You don't catch an eating disorder like you catch a cold. Eating disorders are considered to be "biopsychosocial disorders", meaning they develop due to a combination of something in your genes, something in the way you think, and something in your social environment. Chances are that your disorder has been years in the making, and there isn't going to be a quick fix. It may take many appointments, a lot of hard work, and more support than you could have imagined before you can look back and say you are recovered. THIS IS NORMAL AND OK. The bright side is that doing all that work will leave you healthier and stronger both physically and emotionally.

Be Committed

Committment means doing what you said you would do even if you don't feel like it right now. That can look like eating breakfast the morning after a binge, showing up to your appointment with your therapist even if you're really not in the mood, and taking the time to grocery shop even on a super-hectic day. Feeling committed in your heart isn't enough to get you to recovery. It needs to show up in those actions, because an eating disorder is a tricky beast. Commitment helps fill in the gaps so the eating disorder can't weasel its way through.

Be Consistent

This is doing things the same way over time. You might be really good at consistency in other areas of life...such as in your eating disorder. Consistency may show up in meals or habits that are rigid and unvaried or in exercise routines that are set in stone. But this trait can absolutely work to your advantage! You can channel consistency in a healthy way by keeping your appointments, following a meal plan if that's what is recommended for you, and reliably doing any therapy homework.

Be a Friend

To yourself, that is. Conquering an eating disorder is TOUGH. It can feel exhausting. It can seem endless. It can definitely be overwhelming. I don't think you'd make such a challenging journey harder for anyone else by yelling at them or piling on layers of guilt and shame, yet I see clients do this to themselves almost automatically. Recovery can be a bumpy, winding road, and what's going to get you through is encouragement and hope, not self-criticisim and judgment. Speak to yourself the way you'd speak to someone else. Lift yourself up instead of putting yourself down. THIS one is real magic. :)

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