There are many times where we need to look at what skills we have and tweak them according to what is happening in our lives at any given time. If some things do not work as good as they used to, coming up with alternatives might be more helpful. Sometimes that also includes asking for extra support from friends, family, a therapist, a support group, etc.
Some things that have worked for me have included limiting my exposure to media such as TV commercials, magazine articles, etc. regarding weight loss or diets during times I am feeling especially vulnerable. I have also learned to remove myself from conversations on those types of topics or redirect them so it is something more healthy and positive. That has also been a good way for me to learn how to use my voice and be assertive in order to take care of myself.
Using positive self-talk and reframing negative thoughts has also allowed me to focus on things outside of my body when I am having difficulty with body image. I try to remind myself that each day my body might be different, clothes might not fit the same day to day, but that it will not be like that forever and instead try to practice self-care and do something nice for myself whether it is something simple like having a bubble bath, going for a walk, or spending time with a pet and just distracting myself. Also, paying attention to my body signals in terms of being hungry, emotionally drained, tired, stressed, etc. is important so I can recognize what is happening for me and take care of myself in order to minimize the potential downward spiral that often leads to negative thinking/feeling.
As for food, I now look at it in terms of nutrients instead of calories. In doing that, it has become more of a healthy way for me to nourish myself instead of focusing on things that do not truly matter. It has also lessened the level of anxiety I used to feel and has allowed me to be flexible, not deprive myself of things, and not be fixated on rules surrounding what I eat. Facing fears around food is still something I struggle with at times. New foods continue to be somewhat anxiety provoking but also can be really exciting, more so if I find a new food I enjoy. I like trying a new recipe and proving to myself that food can be fun and not so scary. It is especially nice when you are with someone who is also trying something new so you can share that experience.
Overall, learning what works for you in the recovery process is important. What works for one person might not work for you. Having a list of things you have found useful or skills you have yet to implement can be helpful when you are struggling and need some encouragement to get through a difficult time. Also, never be afraid to reach out for more support if you need it. It will help strengthen you that much more.
Ashley Polson is 31 years old from the Okanagan and is passionate about spreading awareness on eating disorders. She is almost eight years in recovery after a seven-year struggle. She has been involved via social media in mentoring others who struggle and enjoys being able to offer support for those seeking recovery.