Building a Healthy Relationship with Food after an Eating Disorder

Building a Healthy Relationship with Food after an Eating DisorderEating disorders are deadly psychological dysfunctions that can create an increasingly miserable and painful life capped with an early death. However, if treated by experienced recovery personnel, people suffering from anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder can return to full health. As unlikely as it may seem, they can even rebuild a healthy relationship with food.

How Eating Disorders Change Your Relationship with Food

The body experiences psychological and physiological functions through a system of chemical signals in the brain. Trace amounts of substances like endorphins and adrenaline trigger pleasurable feelings and temporarily relieve stress. But when a person starves herself, these pain-managing and appetite-stimulating chemicals function like drugs or alcohol. The brain notices the relief these natural substances offer and wish you to repeat the behavior that led to that reaction. In this process the brain literally rewires the thinking and behavior pathways, elevating the priority of starving above all else. This results in several harmful psychological effects, including the following:

  • A completely inaccurate and unrealistic body image
  • Dismissal of maintaining a healthy diet
  • Deep self-loathing due to repeated self-destructive behaviors
  • Obsessive, unhealthy levels of exercise
  • The reinforcement of control issues
  • A tendency toward substance abuse and addiction

These problems are quite serious and require professional treatment to overcome. Once an eating disorder is established, one of three problems emerges:

    A emotional hatred of food for fear of gaining weight
    A compulsion to eat followed by self-loathing and purging through vomiting or laxative abuse
    A compulsion to eat large amounts of unhealthy food in order to comfort oneself

Reversing these dangerous issues requires strategic, long-term treatment to reprogram the brain back to its pre-addiction health.

Effective Treatment for Eating Disorders

Correcting an eating disorder is a complicated, multi-faceted task that involves the following therapeutic tools:

  • In depth counseling of various types
  • Group therapy sessions
  • Education about the power and function of eating disorders
  • Nutritional support to regain physical strength
  • Spiritual and emotional support
  • Diagnosis and treatment of all underlying psychological conditions

In many ways this is similar to the therapy to treat addiction. The difference is that recovering addicts don’t need drugs to survive, whereas food is essential to survive. A healthy relationship with food must be reestablished if this treatment is to work.

Most people with eating disorders are not fully aware of their emotional perspective on food. They may tell themselves that they must change their eating habits, but when the time comes to eat they ignore this. Identifying your emotions, articulate them and choose to overcome them is the key to recovery.

Help for Eating Disorders

If you have developed an eating disorder and would like to find professional treatment please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline. Our counselors are standing by to answer any questions you have and to connect you with the best recovery programs available. Don’t put off this call one more night. Rebuild a healthy relationship with food and get out from under the weight of an eating disorder.