We are bombarded today with mixed messages about what defines beauty, what the ideal body looks like and how to accomplish that ideal. How do you cope with these messages without falling into the dangerous and potentially deadly behaviors associated with an eating disorder?
If you have struggled with an eating disorder like bulimia in the past, or if you struggle with negative body image, here are five tips for coping with the messages the media feeds:
1. Know your healthy ideal body weight. Talk with your doctor to determine what a healthy ideal weight is for your body type. Work to maintain that body weight through healthy diet and regular exercise. Remind yourself of this weight and do not focus on a weight below your ideal healthy weight.
2. Do not skip meals. In moments where you may be feeling “fat” or struggling with negative body image, skipping a meal may make you feel better about yourself. In the long run, skipping meals is far less healthy than simply eating lower calorie meals. When we skip meals we are more likely to binge eat when we get hungry. Binge eating can lead to purging.
3. Identify and understand what triggers your negative body image. In order to cope with these triggers, you must first know what they are. Once you have identified these triggers, develop a plan to cope with them. This may mean avoiding specific forms of entertainment or even being more discerning about the people you spend time with.
4. Devote yourself to hobbies that boost your self-esteem and happiness. What are the things that make you most happy and feel best about yourself? This may be playing a sport, spending time with friends or family or even volunteering at a local non-profit. Dedicate your time to the activities that give you the most encouragement, pleasure and self-satisfaction.
5. Get support from others. If you are prone to negative thoughts about yourself or your body or the tendency to binge and purge, reach out to family and friends for support. You may even find a support group beneficial for providing encouragement and advice.
The environmental factors that play into eating disorders may always exist, but healthy coping strategies can prevent a potentially deadly eating disorder. If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, seek help from a professional from an eating disorders treatment center. You can contact Shades of Hope Treatment Center at 1-800-588-4673.