Similarly to recovery from substance abuse and dependence, those who are recovering from an eating disorder can have a number of triggers. These triggers can cause individuals to relapse and suffer from the effects of the disorder once again. If you are working to recover from an eating disorder, it is important for you to be aware of the triggers you could encounter as you move forward. These triggers could make your journey very challenging, especially if you are unsure about how to work through and cope with them. Usually, eating disorder triggers fall into one of five categories, but every case is unique. For example, depending on your personal situation, you may be more or less inclined to relapse after dealing with verbal abuse. One person may be able to handle a 5-pound weight gain while another would fall into the trap of binging and purging all over again.
Before we move any further, let’s talk briefly about what triggers are. When a person is dealing with an eating disorder, it is always due to underlying causes. These causes could include low self-esteem, trauma, anxiety, stress, poor body image, and many more. A person may be dealing with one or more of these issues which can all cause the individual to start developing an eating disorder. Thankfully, there are treatment programs for those who are suffering from these disorders. Through a center for the treatment of eating disorders, people can get the help they need in order to overcome their struggles. However, triggers are things that may cause the individual to feel discouraged. They are things that become obstacles and challenge the person who is going through recovery. And, if the individual is unsure about how to use effective coping skills in recovery, she may suffer from a relapse.
Know Your Own Eating Disorder Triggers
The triggers that people often experience during recovery from an eating disorder are very similar to the things that cause eating disorders to occur in the first place. Sometimes, they are directly related to the underlying causes of eating disorders. As you go through treatment, you will learn more about what your personal eating disorder triggers are. Identifying your own triggers coming up with a detailed plan of how to work through each of them will prove to be very helpful. It will help you to be strong throughout your recovery and stay on the path to success.
Now that we have talked about what triggers are and how they can vary from person to person, let’s discuss some of the most common triggers. We will also talk about ways in which you can prevent these triggers from having a negative effect on your life.
1. Social Pressure
Unfortunately, our society sometimes tends to glamorize women and men who are unnaturally thin. In addition, many images that appear in magazines, online, and even in social media are highly edited. This gives viewers a false sense of what is real and attainable. If you are trying to measure up to these standards, you can easily fall back into an eating disorder because in comparison you feel like you will never look as good. It is important to realize these images are not real. Everyone has a unique and different body. So, there is no point in comparing yourself to someone else. It is absolutely critical to simply focus on being healthy and becoming the best version of yourself.
2. Emotional Discontent
Going through a rough situation can easily be an eating disorder trigger. Say you go through a breakup, or lose your job. It is easy to take negative emotions out by either restricting your food intake or binging and purging. Instead, focus on healthy outlets for your negative feelings. Working out is a great way to stay in shape and blow off some steam. So is practicing mindfulness and staying in the present moment by doing something like drawing or writing.
3. Low self-esteem
If you start to feel down on yourself, your knee-jerk reaction may be to start focusing on your weight. In truth, indulging in an eating disorder will only make you feel worse. It will make you sick, unhappy, and weak – all things that contribute to further lowering your self-esteem. Instead, if you focus on healthy eating and other habits, you will feel strong and keep your eating disorder in the past.
4. People, places, and things
Just like with drug and alcohol addiction, common triggers can be the people, places, and things that you spent time with or around when you were in a full-blown eating disorder. While it is hard to distance yourself from close friends, it is important to realize that your health is the number one priority now. Also, if they really were good friends, they would have your health and wellbeing in mind. They would not be interested in standing in your way as you work to move forward with your life. So, if they are not really supporting your new and healthier lifestyle, it is definitely best to avoid spending any more time with them.
The same goes for the places and things that are connected to the disorder you once had. If it will help you to remain healthy, get rid of the clothes that you were focused on fitting into. If there was a particular room in the house in which you would always binge eat, maybe you can make it a habit to only do healthy things there.
It is very common for anyone who overindulges to feel guilty and to want to get back on track. For someone who is recovering from an eating disorder, overindulging can be a huge trigger. And, it can lead to the impulse to purge and restrict calories all over again. The best thing you can do is to avoid overindulging. You can do so by making sure you eat healthy foods and portions. Be sure to have well-rounded meals. But if you do overindulge (which might just happen because you are human) learn to approach it with self-love. Avoid beating yourself down for the mistake. In fact, look at it as less of a mistake or failure and more of a learning experience. After a period of overindulging, instead of sabotaging yourself, focus on eating well and refocusing on your healthy habits. You will feel back to normal in no time.
Developing Relapse Prevention Skills in Treatment
If you have been dealing with an eating disorder and you want to overcome this struggle, it may be difficult for you to know what to do. Many people in your position try to overcome eating disorders alone. Some feel that they do not need to ask for help. They believe that they can end the problem on their own. Others feel too ashamed to speak out; they feel that they can’t ask for help. Sometimes, guilt and shame prevent people from getting the help that they really need. It’s hard to admit that you have a problem like this. It can be especially difficult if the people around you aren’t fully aware of what’s been happening in your life. Asking for help means facing the people around you. And it means facing yourself. But, it is very critical to avoid feeling like you can’t get the help you need.
You deserve to live free from this problem. And, with the help of a center for the treatment of eating disorders, you can gain the skills you need in order to remain free from the bondage of these disorders. Learning life skills in recovery is one of the most important things you can do. Not only will this knowledge help you to stay on track during treatment, but they will also help you to continue avoiding relapse throughout your entire recovery journey. Coping skills in recovery are sort of like your protection devices against relapse. And, as you go through a professional treatment program, therapy and counseling will work to equip you with these skills.
Getting Help for an Eating Disorder at Willow Place
Eating disorder triggers are different for everyone, so it is important to identify what yours are. Also, it’s helpful to learn how to act with mindfulness instead of upon impulse. By practicing this, you will be able to overcome most situations that can make you relapse. Instead, you will be able to carry on with your new healthy way of life.
If you need help overcoming an eating disorder, Willow Place for Women has a program specifically for treating women who suffer from these problems. Just contact us today by calling 1-888-651-4212.
**Originally posted on December 27, 2018. Updated on March 25, 2019.