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How Resilience Improves Normal Eating

A crucial trait that moves people from disregulated eating to “normal” eating is being resilient. High resilience is what makes them more resistant to the stresses and strains of life and better able to cope without turning to food. Read on to learn more about resilience and how to pump yours up.

Research suggests that resilience may have its roots in an abundance of the brain chemical neuropeptide Y, with evidence suggesting that its levels have a strong genetic component. Dennis Charney, a psychiatry and neuroscience professor at the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, “studying American prisoners of war in Vietnam who did not, despite the traumas endured, become depressed or develop PTSD, determined that they had 10 “critical psychology elements and characteristics…identified as: 1) optimism, 2) altruism, 3) having a moral compass or set of beliefs that cannot be shattered, 4) faith and spirituality, 5) humor, 6) having a role model, 7) social supports, 8) facing fear (or leaving one’s comfort zone), 9) having a mission or meaning in life, 10) practice in meeting and overcoming challenges.” (My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel, Alfred A. Knopf: NY, 2014, page 242)

Can you see how these traits would help you withstand life’s difficulties? Here are the ones I believe can be most helpful in becoming a “normal” eater. It helps to be optimistic and look at the bright side which is key to maintaining motivation. So many disregulated eaters see only what they’ve failed to achieve not what they have achieved and become hopeless. Having a good sense of humor, especially about your foibles and those of others goes a long way in not getting caught up in negativity. Learning to laugh at yourself and life is better than eating away your sorrows. If you can find role models handle life effectively, you can then model your attitude and behavior after them. My motto has always been, if someone else can do it (within reason), I can too!

I can’t stress strongly enough that social supports are key to resilience. Fearing vulnerability and guarding your feelings is about the worst thing you can do. Resilient people turn to others for support without discomfort or shame. Leaving your comfort zone is a must for successful living. As they say in AA, nothing changes if nothing changes. You don’t have to take giant leaps; baby steps are just fine. But you can’t do things the way you’ve always done them and expect your eating to change. If you practice the traits for resilience, they’ll feel more natural. And when they feel more natural, you’ll be more likely to repeat them—and you’ll improve at “normal” eating.