Some of the most painful words for me to hear from clients and message board members are, “I give up. I’ll never be a ‘normal’ eater’” or “I’m not losing weight, so what’s the point in trying to eat ‘normally’?” These sentiments make me feel sad and helpless, close to what these people are feeling. But it’s my job—and theirs—to keep at it until they find success. What makes you feel like giving up? Here are some factors that may trigger the urge to say, “Ok, eating disorder. I surrender. You win.”
- A weight-loss focus: In our fat-phobic, thin-obsessed culture, it takes courage and
confidence not to go along with the crowd and talk and think about your weight ad nauseum. In fact, focusing on the scale is a sure fire way to not become a “normal” eater. It’s only when you shift that focus to how you’re eating, how food feels in your body, developing the life skills you lack, and resolving underlying internal conflicts that you will grow and change.
- A belief that you don’t deserve to be a “normal” eater and aren’t worth the effort:
Some dysregulated eaters see themselves as having little worth. They’ve been told it by their parents or care-takers and have continued to (unconsciously) find people along the way to reinforce this nonsense. If you don’t feel worthy of success, you will put very little effort into achieving it and expect to fail because being a failure is part of your identity. When you value yourself, what you think is impossible becomes possible.
- Focusing on what you haven’t or have yet to accomplish rather than on what you have accomplished:
To keep them motivated, successful people focus on their achievements. Too many dysregulated eaters fail to notice and celebrate small successes, and place undue attention on their mistakes and food fiascos. This is a failure mindset. Instead, if each day you look for successes, that’s what you’ll see. Successes might be small, but they add up. Brick by brick you’ll build the road to “normal” eating.
- All-or-nothing thinking: If you believe that if you’re not a success you’re a failure, a
failure you will stay. Learning doesn’t happen overnight. Think of all your achievements and how they grew from a first step toward a goal. Think of how you finally reached that goal and how long it took. Put yourself in a “long haul” mindset and tell yourself you’re fine with the process taking however long it takes. The point is to get there.
How do you develop a mindset that keeps moving you forward to “normal” eating? By engaging in healthy, positive, rational self-talk. Pay close attention to your self-talk and make sure it’s encouraging and motivating. That’s how you become a “normal” eater.