Like with addiction, recovery from an eating disorder can have a number of triggers that can send you into relapse. 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 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.
Eating disorder triggers in recovery are really very similar to things that cause eating disorders to occur in the first place. Being strong in your recovery and staying on the path to success means you have identified your own triggers come up with a detailed plan of how to sidestep each of them. Here are some of the most common triggers along with advice on how you can avoid them.
Unfortunately, our society still glamorizes women and men who are unnaturally thin. In addition, many images that appear in magazines, online, and even in social media are highly edited, giving 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’s important to realize these images are not real. Every body is different, so it is useless to compare yourself to someone else – real or not. Just focus on being healthy.
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.
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.
Just like drug and alcohol addiction, common triggers can be the old people, places, and things that were around when you were in a full-blown eating disorder. While it is hard to distance yourself from good friends, it is important to realize that your health is number one. Plus, if they really were good friends, they would have your health and wellbeing in mind, and not want to drag you down with them. Same goes with places and things. Get rid of the skinny jeans you were focused on fitting into. If there was a particular room in the house in which you would always binge eat, make it a habit to only do healthy things there.
It’s common for anyone who overindulges to feel guilty and to want to get back on track. For someone recovering from an eating disorder, it can be a huge trigger, leading to the impulse to purge and restrict calories all over again. The best thing you can do is to avoid overindulging in the first place by making sure you eat healthy, well-rounded meals. But if you do overindulge (which is totally ok, because you are human) learn to approach it with self-love. Afterward, instead of sabotaging yourself, focus on eating well and refocusing on your healthy habits and you’ll feel back to normal in no time.
Eating disorder triggers are different for everyone, so it is important to identify what yours are. Also, learn how to act mindfully instead of impulsively. By practicing this, you’ll be able to overcome most situations that can make you relapse, and instead carry on with your new healthy way of life. If you need help, Willow Place for Women has a program specifically for treating women who suffer from eating disorders. Call or contact us today at 1-888-651-4212.