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Self Help with Eating Disorders - How to Control Your Disorder

written by: micsan07 • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 7/28/2010

Self help for eating disorders can be done in a variety of ways. The method of self help isn't so important as making up the mind to start a change for the good, and to keep moving forward toward the goals of healing and curing the eating disorder.

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    Self Help with Eating Disorders - How to Control Your Disorder

    Finding the right self help for eating disorders will be a very individual choice for each person. Most eating disorder sufferers will find that choosing one self help method at a time may work best for them. Start with one of the suggestions below and gradually add other methods until there are more positives than negatives in everyday normal living.

    Attracting positives and actually seeking them out can become a habit when people actively search to bring good and better things into their lives. It takes work and perseverance, however, once started, the influx of good feelings and a better self esteem is normally enough of a push to keep the habit moving forward.

    Eating disorders are all about not feeling good about oneself and having problems with body image, self confidence, and self esteem. Once a decision has been made by an eating disorder sufferer to try to improve the quality of life through positive motivation and better eating habits, small changes built one upon the other will help them to continue self help for eating disorders.

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    Make a List

    As trite as it can sound, make a list.

    Fold a piece of paper down the middle from top to bottom and put a minus sign on the top of the first column and a plus sign on top of the second column. Put a timer on for two minutes, no longer, and write down all the things that come to mind that are negatives or undesirables in current everyday living. Body shape, weight, hair, skin, friends, family, rules, school, work, etc. can all be on the list, but make it specific. If school goes on the list, what is it about school that is bad? If a brother or sister is a problem, what is it about them that irks you?

    Only two minutes. Because of the brevity of time, the more important issues in life should pop up quickly and be on the list.

    Set the timer again for two minutes and this time the list will be for things or people who add meaning to life. Good things that a person with eating disorders can be thankful for. It could be anything from being happy they have blue eyes to loving the family pet, enjoying English class, or being a closet writer.

    Again, because of the two minute time limit, the more enjoyable aspects of life should come to the fore.

    Once the lists have been made, take a look and notice which column is longer. Is it the minus or the plus side? All this will show is if the person needs to start new habits and work hard to overcome their eating disorder or start new habits and work REALLY hard to overcome their eating disorder. No more and no less.

    The next step is to ask a family member or friend to complete a list with the same time limits of what they think your minus and plus points are. The reason for this is that, most of the time, the list will be completely different from the first list and will give good comparisons between what the person thinks of themself and what others think of them.

    This comparison will help open their eyes to see that some of what they consider bad about themselves or their life may not be as bad as they once thought. Getting a different viewpoint is often a way to get the brain to slide around issues and see another side that wasn't thought of before. It gets the brain thinking in new ways, which is good.

    Keep the lists around and check them often. The list of items in the first column will be what the new habits will be addressing while the second column will be the pats on the back and the rewards that will be added when new habits are started and continued.

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    Tell Someone

    Telling someone that you are serious about helping yourself get over an eating disorder will be tremendously freeing.

    It makes it official and it's harder to back out and tell yourself that you'll start next week instead of this week.

    When things get a little rough, and at times they will, being able to call or talk to that one person will make staying on the course of seeking positives easier.

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    Continuing Self Help for Eating Disorders and Getting CuredTake responsibility for your future health and get started on self help for eating disorders. Get cured by starting on a program that encourages motivation, self confidence and self esteem.
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    Stay Busy - Help Others

    Staying busy and finding someone else to help in some way is one of the best self confidence and self esteem boosters there are. People with eating disorders need confidence and esteem injections every day. The more the better. Every time a person can feel good about themselves is a time when they are not thinking or feeling bad about themselves.

    A person can't feel good and bad at the same time, so it makes sense that the more times they can feel good about themselves, the less time they have to feel bad. This brings more positives into everyday living and starts the process of pushing negatives away.

    Help out an elderly neighbor who may need assistance with grocery shopping or yard work. A new mother with two other young children is sure to need help doing daily chores that are hard to do with young feet underfoot. Volunteer at a woman's shelter, nursing home, hospital, veterans' home, homeless shelter, or school. When looking about for something to do, suggestions or possibilities will appear.

    Spending time with others less fortunate and helping others feel good about themselves will become addictive. Helping others makes people appreciate what they have more, and it makes them want to become better.

    Again, the more time spent in positive activities, the less time there is in dealing with negatives.

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    Get Educated About Eating Disorders

    People with eating disorders know that they aren't happy, although many don't take the time to figure out why they aren't. It just is and they deal with it the only way they know how.

    However, most people with eating disorders only know about what is happening with their bodies now, not effects that they may be incurring for later in life health. Eating disorder sufferers need to get educated about what they are doing to their bodies.

    Bingeing, purging, overeating, and starving are all acts that can greatly affect the health over a period of time. Eating disorder sufferers see the extra weight or the loss of weight on their bodies, but they are not thinking about the long term effects of eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa.

    Digestive problems, teeth and throat problems, heart problems, blood and organ health are all affected. Eating disorders can also be life threatening!

    Start searching the Internet, read books, ask a doctor, visit a hospital and visit someone who is there because of an eating disorder. Get the facts and realize that you don't want to become that person.

    This is a powerful motivator for getting self help for eating disorders.

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    Reward Yourself

    Getting started on a self help program or journey isn't all about depriving yourself of food if you are a compulsive over eater or making yourself eat more if you are anorexic. It's about putting in black and white what you like and want to keep, and what you don't like and want to get rid of in your life.

    It's about making choices, making decisions, that not only affect life right now but future health as well.

    Many eating disorder sufferers have loss of control issues and drown those feelings with the eating disorder behaviors. Self help is all about regaining control and making decisions to improve what you don't like about your body or your life, and amplify what you do like or want.

    It's not usually the body that's so bad, but the mind that sees the body a certain way.

    Take the time to reward yourself.

    Instead of going off to another room to binge on a large meal, ask a friend to lunch and eat moderately. For a reward, ask the friend if they want to go see a new movie at the local theater.

    When you stay busy for a few hours volunteering at the hospital and don't have time to purge after eating a small snack, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. Go shopping with a friend and splurge on a new purse.

    Remember, self help isn't just restricting yourself and telling yourself you can't do things. It's also a way to feel better about life in general and making the choice to reward yourself to keep those good feelings rolling.

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    References

    National Eating Disorders - Eating Disorders Prevented: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/information-resources/general-information.php#eating-disorders-prevented

    National Institute of Mental Health - Eating Disorders: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/complete-index.shtml