So you were just diagnosed with an eating disorder or more likely… now you think you may have an eating disorder. What do you do?
First things first, tell someone. It’s much easier to have someone by your side to go through it alone. If you feel comfortable, tell a family member or friend that you are struggling with food choices- whether it be restricting, purging, bingeing, or obsessive thoughts about food. Next, know how important it is to get professional help. It’s really hard (and takes MUCH longer) to “recover” (if you recover at all) from an eating disorder on your own rather than do it with professional help.
Everyone is different and the “recovery process” is different for everyone. But when it comes down to it, recovering from an eating disorder is all about education, patience, challenging the eating disorder thoughts, getting out of your comfort zone, going up and down (recovery is NOT a linear line) but eventually breaking free from your disordered thoughts. One of the most important aspects to recover is proper nutrition. Not only for your hard working brain, but for your physical body.
The team approach with eating disorders or emotional eating is so important. Chances are you are going to need some pretty important people by your side to help you figure things out and they are all important for a reason. Here are all of the members of your team to help you recover and WHY they are needed:
- Therapist: A therapist helps you figure out the disordered eating thoughts, why they’re occurring and how to challenge them. There are usually underlining issues of depression, anxiety, and stress that go hand-in-hand with eating disorders or emotional eating. I always like to say “you brain isn’t working the right way” when you have an eating disorder or emotional eating, and therapy helps you “fix” your brain so it can become healthy again.
- Dietitian: A dietitian that specializes in the treatment of eating disorders (me!!) helps you find an appropriate meal plan that meets your needs. At first, we find something that “works” for you in the short-term but eventually we can challenge you with fearful foods in a way that doesn’t make them “fearful” anymore. I never EVER want emotional eaters or binge eaters to “diet”, I feel that just sets clients up for more bingeing. We talk about the hunger scale, finding hunger/satiety cues, what’s “normal eating”, and what your goals are with food and recovery. We talk about eating out, preparing food, grocery shopping, and what is going to work for you in a way that keeps you healthy.
- Doctor: Your doctor will monitor all labs and medical issues related to an eating disorder
- Psychiatrist: Sometimes medications are needed to help alleviate depression, anxiety. Some medications can target anorexia and some can target binge eating.
- Personal trainer: Some eating disorders can include disorder patterns of exercise. A personal trainer can help you figure out a plan for exercise that’s right for you and your body.
- Your support system: Perhaps this is the most important component for recovery. Eating disorders can be very isolating and that’s why it’s important to have a support system in place.
Remember, first step is tell anyone you can trust. Second step find a health professional to talk to. That person will help you find the rest of your team. Remember, if you’re struggling you need help. You’re worth it!
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Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY. She is on a mission to help people heal from diets, and find peace and balance with their food choices. She leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel Fabulous about Food!”
Start your own healing by downloading her Free Stop the Cycle of Binge Eating guide or her Free Hunger – Fullness Scale.