12 Minutes

Edited & clinically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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It’s common for people suffering from anorexia to believe that they’ll never be happy unless they lose weight and that their worth is based on their appearance. Self-esteem and happiness, on the other hand, come from appreciating yourself for who you are, which is only achievable through recovery.

Person obsessed with weight loss, anorexia symptom

Admitting that you have an eating disorder is the first step toward recovery. This is a difficult admission to make, especially if you still believe — even if it’s in the subconscious mind — that losing weight is the ticket to confidence, happiness, and success. Even when you realize this isn’t the case, it’s difficult to break old behaviors.

The great news is that you can retrain and unlearn the behaviors you have acquired. Anyone can acquire an eating disorder, and anyone can recover from it. However, resolving an eating disorder entails more than just quitting bad habits. It’s also about reclaiming who you are outside your dietary habits, body image, and weight and learning new strategies to cope with emotional suffering.

In order to truly recover from an eating disorder, you must learn to:

  • Pay attention to your emotions.
  • Listen to what your body says and be in harmony with it.
  • Accept yourself as you are.
  • Take care of yourself.

This may appear to be a daunting task, but keep in mind that you are not alone. There is help available, and you can get back on your feet. You can gain freedom from the harmful habits of your eating disorder, reclaim your health, and rediscover the joy in life with the correct help and direction.

Although there are numerous treatment choices for those suffering from anorexia, it is critical to select the treatment, or combination of strategies, that is most effective for you.

Your symptoms and bad eating habits can be addressed with effective treatment. The right treatment should address the problem’s fundamental causes, such as the emotional triggers that contribute to disordered eating and your inability to cope with stress, fear, anxiety, sadness, or other unpleasant feelings.

The following are some of the key anorexia recovery tips to get over anorexia:

Learn how to deal with emotional suffering in a more healthy way

It may appear like eating disorders including anorexia is all about food—after all, your diets and weight-loss routines have taken over your life. However, eating isn’t the main issue. Stress or other negative emotions can lead to disordered eating as a coping technique. For example, you could withhold food to stay in control, overeat for consolation, or vomit to punish yourself. However, whatever need your eating problem satisfies in your life, you can discover healthier ways to deal with negative feelings and life’s challenges.

The first step is to figure out what’s happening on the inside. Do you have a grudge towards someone or something? Depressed? Are you feeling tense? Lonely? Is there a strong emotion you’re attempting to avoid? Are you eating to relax, comfort yourself, or pass the time? You can choose a constructive alternative to starving yourself once you’ve identified the emotion you’re experiencing.

To get you started, here are a few ideas:

  • Make a call to a friend
  • Play some songs
  • Have fun with a pet.
  • Pick a nice book to read.
  • Take a stroll
  • Make a journal.
  • Visit a movie theater
  • Get outside and enjoy the scenery.
  • Play one of your favorite games.
  • Make a contribution to someone else’s well-being.

Establish a healthy relationship with food consumption

Even though food isn’t the problem, improving your relationship with it is critical to your recovery. When it comes to eating, most persons with eating disorders deal with problems of control, sometimes oscillating between stringent regulations and chaos. The aim is to obtain equilibrium.

Allow yourself to relax and let go of tight eating habits. Eating disorders are fueled by strict rules regarding food and eating, so it’s critical to substitute them with healthier choices. For instance, if you have a rule that says you can’t have dessert every day, alter it to “I wouldn’t eat dessert daily.” You won’t gather weight by eating an ice cream cone or a cookie once in a while.

Don’t go on a diet. The more food restrictions you impose, the more likely you are to become preoccupied, if not obsessed, with it. Rather than focusing on what you “shouldn’t” eat, concentrate on eating nutritious foods that will energize you and strengthen your body. Consider food to be fuel for your body. Listen to your body when it tells you the tank is low. Eat just when you’re actually hungry, and then quit eating when you’re satisfied.

Maintain a constant eating pattern. You may be accustomed to missing meals or fasting for extended periods of time. When you go hungry, though, eating is all you can think about. Eat every 3 hours to avoid this fixation. Plan ahead of time for snacks and meals, and don’t forget to eat them!

Start paying attention to your body’s instincts. You’ve learned to ignore your body’s hunger and fullness cues if you have an eating problem. It’s possible that you won’t recognize them any longer. The idea is to re-establish contact with these innate factors so that you can eat depending upon physiological rather than emotional requirements.

Embrace and adore yourself just as you are.

You’re neglecting all the other traits, qualities, and accomplishments that make you appealing if you focus your self-worth solely on your physical looks. Consider your circle of family and friends. Do people praise you because of your appearance or because of who you are? Your looks are probably not high on the list of things they like about you, and you presumably feel the same way about them. So, why is it at the top of your own list?

Putting too much emphasis on your appearance might lead to insecurity and low self-esteem. You may, however, learn to see oneself in a more positive, balanced light:

Make a list of your redeeming characteristics. Consider all the qualities you admire in yourself. Are you a wise person? Kind? Creative? Loyal? Funny? What are your positive attributes, according to others? Include your abilities, talents, and accomplishments. Consider what you don’t have in terms of negative attributes.

Stop looking at yourself in the mirror. Pinching for fatness, constantly weighing yourself, or putting on too-small clothes just reinforces a negative self-image and distorts your true appearance. We’re all poor at recognizing visual changes in our own appearance. Right now, your aim is to learn to embrace yourself—and that acceptance shouldn’t be based on a number on the weight scale or a perceived imperfection in the mirror.

“Fat talk” should be avoided. It’s something that many of us do without even realizing it. Perhaps we create self-deprecating remarks about our looks, blame a celebrity for adding a few pounds, or focus on how friends appear—their new attire or freshly toned physique, for example—when we greet them. However, focusing on our own or others’ appearances simply results in feelings of body image dissatisfaction. Instead of saying, “You look fantastic!” focus on something else, like, “You seem incredibly happy!” Also, stay away from folks who are quick to judge others based on their appearance.

Negative self-talk should be challenged. Every now and then, we all have dark thoughts about our appearance. The crucial thing is not to let these thoughts determine your self-worth. Halt and confront the negative thinking if you discover yourself becoming self-critical or gloomy. Consider what facts you have to back up your claim. What evidence do you have against it? It doesn’t mean anything is true only because you believe it.

Relapse Prevention

After you’ve developed healthy habits, the effort of anorexia recovery of a recovered anorexic doesn’t end. It’s critical to take action to keep your improvement going and avoid relapse.

Create a strong support system. Surround yourself with individuals who believe in you and would like to see you succeed. Avoid spending time with people who sap your energy, promote disordered eating, or make you feel horrible about yourself.

Recognize your “triggers.” During the holidays, test week, or swimsuit season, are you more prone to relapse to your old, damaging behaviors? Or are you more likely to develop disordered eating habits as a result of problems at work or in your relationship? Know your early warning signals and have a plan in place to address them, like going to therapy more frequently or enlisting the help of family and friends.

Pro-mia and pro-ana websites should be avoided. Don’t go to websites that encourage or promote bulimia or anorexia. These websites are operated by people looking for justifications to keep on their path of destruction. The “help” they provide is harmful and will only obstruct your recuperation.

Keep a diary. A daily notebook can assist you in keeping track of your emotions, thoughts, and actions. Take action right away if you see yourself drifting back into bad routines.

Follow your eating disorder treatment regimen to the letter. Even if you’re feeling better, don’t overlook therapy or other aspects of your treatment. Follow your treatment team’s instructions.

Positive activities should be a part of your daily routine. Make time for the things that make you happy and fulfilled. Try something you have always desired to do, learn a new skill, take up a fun pastime, or give back to your community by volunteering. The less you want to concentrate on food and weight, the more fulfilling your life will be.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up. Recovery is a long-term or sometimes a lifelong process, and setbacks are common. Don’t let feelings of shame or guilt get in the way of your recovery; instead, consider how you’ll handle a similar circumstance in the future. Remember that a minor slip-up doesn’t have to lead to a full-fledged relapse.

A calorie-focused meal plan may be triggering for anorexics in recovery, hence trained dietitians do not always advocate it. However, knowing your goal calorie count might help when evaluating food menus and labels.

Following initial caloric estimates after ruling out refeeding syndrome of recovering from anorexia, a basic meal plan should consist of three 500-800 calorie meals plus three 300 calorie snacks.

Again, calorie intake varies with the rate of increase in weight. The exchange system is the favored anorexia nervosa meal, plan model. It  is commonly utilized in hospitals, residential,

The approach is flexible in recovery since it considers macronutrient proportions (carbohydrate, protein, fat) without focusing on calories.

Metabolic efficiency calculations commonly aim for 50–60 percent carbohydrate, 15–20 percent protein, and 30–40 percent dietary fat. Each “exchange” represents a portion of food and its portion size. Making balanced dietary choices is easier when meal planning.

A healthy balanced diet may not be as crucial as an increased caloric intake for regaining weight. In this case, a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist can help construct exchange meal programs.

Exchange Meal Plan for 3,000 calories can include 4 fruit, 4 milk, 12 starch, 5 veggies, 7 fat, and 9 meat. A daily routine might categorize the exchanges as follows:

Breakfast: 2 Starch, 2 Meat, 1 Fat, 2 Fruit, 1 Milk

2 slices of toast with 1 teaspoon. butter (1 fat exchange)

2 scrambled eggs (2 meat exchanges), 1/2 cup fruit salad, 4 oz orange juice (total-2 fruit exchanges)

Lunch: 2 vegetables, 2 starch, 3 meat, 2 fat, 1 milk

Sandwich (grilled cheese): 2 slices bread, 2 tbsp butter, 3 slices cheese (3 meat exchanges)

1 cup tomato soup condensed with 2 vegetable exchanges made with 1 cup milk (1 milk exchange)

Dinner: 1 Fruit, 2 Vegetables & 1 Starch, 3 Fat, 3 Meat

1 cup pasta (2 starch exchanges)

2 garlic toast + 2 tsp butter (2 starch and 2 fat exchanges)

3 ounces ground beef or turkey browned in 1 tsp olive (1 fat exchange)

12 cup tomato sauce, 12 cup broccoli (2 vegetable exchanges)

1 oz (1 fruit exchange)

Snack #1: 2 starch, 1 milk

1 muffin (2 starch exchanges)

1 cup whole milk (add half & half for additional calories)

Snack #2: 1 Fruit, 1 Milk

12 bananas (1 fruit exchange)

1 cup yogurt (1 milk exchange)

Snack #3: 1 Meat, 2 Starches, 1 Veg, 1 Fat

1 teaspoon. peanut or almond butter (1 meat exchange)

2 bread slices (2 starch exchanges)

1 cup raw carrots, 1-ounce hummus (1 veg and 1 fat exchange)

Dress for yourself, not for the sake of others. What you wear should make you feel good. Choose clothing that reflects your personality while also making you feel at ease and confident.

Stop putting yourself in comparison to others. When people are comparing themselves to others on media platforms and social networks, even those who do not have an eating disorder feel anxious and inferior. On Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms, people emphasize the positive elements of their lives, ignoring their imperfections and the disappointments and doubts that we all face. Take a break from the internet and social media and toss the fashion mags if necessary. Even though you know the photos are just photoshopped fantasy, they might nonetheless make you feel insecure. Stay away until you’re sure they won’t make you feel bad about yourself.

Take care of your body. Instead of considering your body as an adversary, consider it a valuable asset. Pamper yourself with a relaxing massage, manicure, facial, candlelit bath, or your favorite scented lotion or perfume.

Continue to be active. While it’s crucial not to overdo it when it comes to exercise, staying active is beneficial to both your mental and physical health. It’s important to distinguish between obsessive exercise, which is a rule-driven, weight-focused, and inflexible, and healthy exercise, which is rule-free, enjoyable, and flexible. Concentrate on activities that you enjoy and do them for the sake of improving your mood, not for the sake of changing your appearance. Outdoor activities, in particular, can improve your sense of well-being.

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