When you’re in recovery for an eating disorder, you need to be careful to avoid potential triggers for a relapse. One of these potential triggers could be dieting. It’s important to avoid traditional fad dieting techniques and mindsets, and instead focus on overall health. The key to maintaining recovery is to find balance in your eating and exercise habits. Here are several ways to do that.
Incorporate Healthy Foods into Your Diet
When you were in treatment, you probably had nutrition sessions with a registered dietitian or nutritionist. The purpose of these sessions was to teach you how to choose a balanced and healthy diet. You can put this into practice by including a variety of healthy foods in your meals. Be careful not to fixate on certain types of foods. Rather, aim for variety and focus on foods that make you feel good and healthy.
Practice Intuitive Eating
Rather than focusing on a particular type or amount of food, focus instead on what your body is telling you. This process, called intuitive eating, is highly effective for maintaining recovery. Tune into your natural hunger and fullness signals and allow yourself to eat what you are craving. Your body knows what it needs.
Establish a Healthy Exercise Routine
Work with your doctor and therapist to develop an exercise routine that is right for you. Although a healthy exercise routine may look different for each person, there are certain guidelines you can follow.
Whatever type of exercise you do, ask yourself why you are doing it. Is it for enjoyment or out of a sense of obligation? Are you focusing on fitness and health, or on maintaining a certain performance level? Refrain from using measurements like distance, speed, or length of time. Instead, focus on what your body is telling you about your energy levels. Stop when you feel tired.
Focus on Positive Body Image
Our society puts a lot of emphasis on looking a certain way, and this can cause people in recovery to feel triggered. It’s important to limit your exposure to media messages of the so-called “ideal body” and realize that there is no such thing as an ideal. Every person looks different, and this is normal. Focus on embracing your body as it is.
Recovery is a lifelong journey. You have worked hard to get to this point, and you are still working to maintain your progress every day. It can become overwhelming at times, so it’s important to continue practicing self-care and stress relief techniques as you did in treatment. Find activities that bring you joy and promote mindfulness, such as art, writing, or music. Take time for yourself every day.
Inform Your Doctor of Your Eating Disorder
Be sure to tell your primary care provider that you’re in recovery for an eating disorder. There are potential triggers in a primary care setting, such as the common practice of weighing patients. Talk to your doctor about things that might trigger you. If your doctor has recommended weight loss in the past, ask to set a different goal such as healthier blood pressure or cholesterol levels. Your doctor should be one of your strongest support systems in recovery, since he or she is focused on helping you achieve overall health and fitness.
Consider Outpatient Therapy
If you find yourself struggling in recovery, it may be beneficial to start outpatient therapy. Group and individual sessions connect you to peer and professional support. This is very powerful for preventing a relapse.
If you’re currently living in eastern Pennsylvania and would like to try outpatient therapy with Seeds of Hope, contact us at 610-644-6464 or fill out a contact form and a member of our support staff will contact you soon.