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How do you avoid anxiety when eating ‘bad’ foods or breaking food rules? -C
Great question! The truth is avoiding any emotion surrounding food is really hard, especially anxiety. And when you’re going through the eating disorder recovery process, anxiety is pretty much unavoidable.
The thing to remember is that it is not really “you” that is feeling this, it’s your eating disorder because you’re challenging it.
One of the key things in the recovery process is to separate yourself from the eating disorder. This may seem irrelevant because it seems like it won’t “fix” the anxiety, but if you begin to see how your eating disorder is anxious because it’s being threatened and this is not really you, it opens up the possibility for you to make a different choice about how the real you (without the eating disorder) feels about everything, including all the food rules the eating disorder has laid out for you.
For example, maybe you feel angry that the eating disorder has been such a bully and threatened you with lies about what would happen if you broke its rules. Make the clear distinction between how the real you feels (the one that wants to recover) and how the eating disorder feels.
Whatever emotion pops up for you during the recovery process, it’s important you allow yourself to feel it, no matter how uncomfortable and overwhelming it may be.
When we try to push away uncomfortable feelings or stuff them down, we only fuel the eating disorder. Can you simply allow yourself to feel whatever feeling pops up without even attaching a label to it or calling it something?
Can the feeling/emotion simply be a sensation and can you sit in it and allow it to be fully felt (ride the wave of emotion) until you feel it pass?
This is a very challenging thing to do, so be patient with yourself and practice self-forgiveness if you have a hard time getting it.
Know that every challenging emotion is another opportunity to practice this and recovery is truly possible with this kind of practice.
I hope this helps! Don’t forget to join our group on Facebook if you’re looking for community and support!
Robyn Baker, CPT, RYT, BS
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Disclaimer: This column is meant to serve as a safe place to ask questions and get opinions from educated professionals; but please always consult your own team before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Although our Experts are certified professionals in their area, their advice may not be suitable for your situation, and thus is not to be taken in place of that given by your recovery team and/or family doctor or personal therapist. Please use your own good judgment, and consult a licensed mental health practitioner for specific treatment. In the case of a crisis, please do not rely on this column, as answers may take several weeks to be published, and not all questions will be addressed. Please contact one of the Helplines listed in our Resources section if you feel you are a harm to yourself or in need of emergency support.