The fact that it’s National Eating Disorders Awareness week means different things to each of us. It might be a reminder that you’re not alone and that millions of other women and men also struggle with food and weight issues. It might bring to mind loved ones battling with or lost to anorexia or bulimia. It might finally help you break your denial and admit that you have a dysfunctional relationship with food. This week is a good time to focus on and rethink your goals regarding eating and your body.
What attitudes and behaviors are you working on that will bring you closer to “normal” eating? Are you making progress? If not, why not? If you’ve been coasting along, hoping magically for transformation, what prevents you from making a commitment to buckle down and make changes? If you’re still caught between dieting and acknowledging how it can promote food problems, what do you need to do to put dieting behind you once and for all?
As a therapist, I often hear clients say that they’d do anything to overcome their food problems. Anything! Once in a while a client will really go all out and do whatever is needed, but this is an exception. Generally, people say they’ll do anything, but what they mean is anything that’s not too uncomfortable. Human nature being what it is, this perspective makes sense. We are ambivalent creatures who seek pleasure and want to stay well within our comfort zone. But comfort is the antithesis of change. You can’t have both. You must stretch and keep stretching emotionally and behaviorally in order to become a “normal” eater (or anything else you want to be).
Let me make a proposal to you. To honor this special week (and, more than that, to honor yourself!), pick one behavior or attitude, not necessarily in the food arena, that you know will make you uncomfortable and commit to doing it today—eat a nutritious breakfast, go to the gym, refuse an unreasonable request, schedule a doctor’s appointment you’ve postponed, ditch your scale, join a message board/eating support group, tell someone that talking about your eating and body are off limits, trash your diet books, eat a meal sitting quietly without distractions, share your eating difficulties with someone, make that call to a therapist, start a feelings log, get to bed on time, give yourself a non-food treat, practice deep breathing, learn about depression and anxiety, buy clothes that fit, have a good cry, leave work on time, or stop striving for perfection.
One small step does not a journey make, but it will keep you going in the right direction.