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If you are journeying from dysfunctional to functional eating, you will have to change more about you than your relationship with food. In fact, that may be the final thing that shifts as you work on becoming a healthier person all around. Beware: if you only focus on whether or not your eating is becoming more “normal,” it’s easy to fall into hopelessness. You may have to develop other aspects of your personality—by altering particular character traits—before your eating habits will budge.
For example, if you’re unhappy with your living situation or job, major contributors to both satisfaction or stress, you may not be able to give up disordered eating. Try as you might, you’re asking too much of yourself. Living or working under conditions in which you regularly feel unheard, undervalued, shamed, or in other ways disempowered will make change all but impossible. Once you learn to speak up and express your frustration, challenge the status quo, demand change, or make other plans, it will be easier to avoid using food to take care of your unhappy feelings.
Likewise if you’re chronically depressed or riddled with anxiety. It’s one thing to expect progress with your food issues when you’re emotionally healthy and feel upbeat most of the time. It’s another to make headway when you can barely drag yourself out of bed in the morning, take every slight personally, and feel that life is so hard you’d just as soon give up. Similarly, if you’re so anxious sleep poorly and worry incessantly about the future, and are used to comforting yourself with food, you’re going to have an uphill battle becoming a “normal” eater. In cases of depression and anxiety, you may first have to balance your biochemistry before you can make progress on the eating front.
Here are some other areas on which to focus expanding life skills: taking better care of yourself physically/mentally/emotionally/spiritually, developing patience and frustration tolerance, setting firmer boundaries with people, becoming more assertive, learning how to compartmentalize feelings, asking for and receive help from others, accepting that you can trust yourself, developing self-esteem, being less judgmental of yourself and others, feeling comfortable saying both “yes” and “no” to people according to your needs, balancing work and play, letting go of shame/remorse/regret, finding meaning in life, regulating emotions, and moving on from and letting go of unhealthy situations.
Growing in even some of these areas will improve your quality of life and enable you to eat more “normally.” The more you grow, the easier “normal” eating will be.
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