Do Eating Disorder Thoughts Ever Go Away?
Amy M. Klimek, MA. LPC
Eating Disorder Program Coordinator, Timberline Knolls
The average person has between 50,000 and 75,000 thoughts per day, which translates into 35 to 50 per minute.
When an individual struggles with an eating disorder, thoughts are repeatedly directed towards the disorder: “If I eat that, I will gain weight” or “How can I hide my next binge and purge from my parents?” The disorder strives to be center-stage, becoming the driving force of all actions, sending commitments and values to the side.
Because the person has abdicated all power to the disorder, they perceive these thoughts as truth, than will react to the thoughts impulsively. In turn, this automatic behavior becomes conditioned. If the thought “I am fat” presents itself continuously, the person will emotionally agree, often taking on personal ownership of the negative statement.
When entering recovery many people often wonder if the thoughts will remain. The answer is yes and no. The thoughts may show up, but how they experience the thought and how they choose to respond will change. A thought by itself is just a thought: a recollection of an experience or event, an idea, or a product of a person’s onhealthy evista mental activity. How one thinks about the thought, spends time with it, responds to the thought is in the control and influence of the person. To notice the thought is to experience the thought, then invite space and time to respond to it in a healthy way. In recovery that requires support and compassion.
As the days were once spent using behaviors to quiet the mental chorus composed by the disorder, now the days are filled with recovery work, new experiences, attitudes and growth, as well as time spent with supportive people.
The disorder thoughts are not being cultivated and tended to; this naturally allows more time and space to spend in the healing process. And the beauty is this vacancy space allows new thoughts to enter in, such as present moment experience, new ideas, and experience of the now.
The few negative thoughts that remain will no longer be loud and intrusive, but over time, will grow quiet and weak. Every time a thought is denied the attention, the eating disorder loses power. One of the strengths of recovery is for every person to take back the power they abdicated because it is theirs and theirs alone.
It Is Time to End Fat Talk
Amy M. Klimek, MA. LPC, Eating Disorder Program Coordinator at Timberline Knolls
Fat talk is defined as public body self-disparagement; in essence, it is an indirect term for fat shaming– a means to measure one’s self to another person, directly or indirectly, in a toxic way.
Sadly, fat talk is a social bonding ritual mostly found among women. Whereas they may fail to connect through discussion of work or recreation, bring up weight loss, diets or body dissatisfaction, and most females jump right in.
Not only is it socially acceptable, but it is contagious. Fat talk is like yawning; once one-person starts, everyone collectively responds to it.
This type of interaction knows no age limit. A survey of thousands of women between the ages of 16 to 70 revealed that fat talk is practiced in every age group; the practice of fat shaming will continue to get worse over time.
Conversational body shaming is standard operating procedure for women and is escalating amongst men.
In our treatment program, inner self dialogue is shared in group therapy to explore how much time a person spends with their negative self-talk through body shaming of themselves or others. The sharing process helps people learn how to be more intentional with the words they use, how the words make people feel, and how the words can influence the present experience. Through role playing, a person can hear onhealthy lasix their own judgmental words that consistently on cue play over and over again. This exercise can help the person create space between the thoughts, slow them down, and provide time to move away from those thoughts and respond differently. Moving away from the internal chorus composed of voices from family members, voices from past relationships or current relationships or those strangers just passing by, a person can start to notice the present voices of healing, compassion, and change.
The truth is, fat talk is not acceptable at any dinner table, in any social gathering with loved ones, and especially not towards others and ourselves.
It appears that many Facebook users seem to feel similarly. The social media site offers people a number of emoticons they can use to describe feelings such as blessed, tired, sad, etc. Due to a petition signed by thousands of users, Facebook recently deleted “fat” from the list of status update emoticons, which had previously displayed chubby cheeks and a double chin( as if that was the actual way someone would look if they were “feeling fat”) .
By no longer offering a symbol that indicates a user is “feeling fat,” we hope this leads to a decrease of fat shaming language through our own self dialogue and our dialogue with others. It starts and ends with each of us to stop fat talk.
Written by: Jenn Burnell MS, RD/LDN CEDRD of Carolina House and CRC
I had the opportunity to attend my first MEDA conference this past week. So many local and national experts shared their insight and knowledge on a variety of eating disorder topics. What a wonderful experience to witness a local non-profit bring together so many wonderful resources!
So what can I share with you from this conference that may help you better understand eating disorders, or make you a better clinician? Unfortunately I could not see all of the sessions, but here are three messages you can take with you even if you weren’t at the conference.
The MEDA conference theme this year was, “Spring into Action: Infusing Creativity and Flexibility into the Eating Disorder Field”. The conference reminded is that we all have different brains that are wired to make us who we are. Some of these wires may cross in a way that can predispose one to an eating disorder, mood disorder, substance use disorder or any combination of these. However, understanding how we all tick and learning the creative, flexible and innovative ways to help others (or ourselves) is key to being an effective practitioner. Our role is to help individuals lead a rewarding and fulfilling life, knowing that everyone’s journey is different.
Working in the eating disorder field is such an amazing thing, and I am proud to have shared time with so many passionate individuals on cold and (dare I say it) snowy Boston days. Looking forward to MEDA 2016 already!
The presentations from MEDA’s Conference are now posted online for those who attended the Conference. Visit http://www.medainc.org/events/national-conference/ to gain access to the presentations. Also, MEDA will be posting RFP’s soon for their 2016 National Annual Conference. Stay tuned and check www.medainc.org frequently.
Body image VS Self image
By Camille Malecha, MA, LPC
Eating Disorder Specialist at Timberline Knolls
Imagine a completed puzzle that represents a person’s self-image. This picture consists of many pieces, since self-image is linked to personality, social roles (son, daughter, friend, or employee), physical appearance and existential statements. That final component refers to more nebulous concepts such as possessing an important place in the universe and being part of the whole. Now envision the cluster of puzzle pieces that represent body image. This is how a person perceives their physical person, primarily how it looks. Body image is extremely appearance-focused.
Here is what can happen when a person has an eating disorder: the body image pieces become the entire puzzle. Everything else that makes them who they are pales in comparison to the focus that is now placed on the physical person. This individual can become consumed with how they look and the perception is usually about 100 percent negative.
If strongly encouraged to point out a single positive aspect about their bodies, a person might say they have nice hair or a nice smile. But the positive recognition will rarely be below the neck.
The eating disorder can compel the person not to be just body-focused, but body-obsessed. Even if able to recognize positive qualities, or receive compliments from others, they often discredit the positive and immediately return to the negative. This low sense of self-worth is often what drives the eating disorder behaviors and keeps an individual stuck in shame and blame.
The goal of treatment at Timberline Knolls is two-fold. First, we want to move the person onhealthy viagra into a place of body acceptance, to simply accept their body the way it is. This doesn’t mean they approve, or even like, their body. We want them to embrace the reality that this is the one they have been given. As such, certain behaviors must be embraced to keep this body alive and healthy.
The second goal is to shift focus away from the body and more fully onto the self. We want them to see that they are so much more than what they look like. This realization gradually moves them from the negative to the positive.
We start with a daily practice of challenging negative distorted body image and self-image thoughts and using positive affirmations. We want a person to display gratitude and appreciation for all the body can do and find time throughout the day to say or write affirmations about self and body. Often times someone doesn’t go from hating themselves or their body to love. It is a process that can start with appreciation, move into acceptance, and then shift slowly towards having a love for self and body.
And finally, we want each person to know that they have great value, simply because they exist.
There is a reason they are on this earth; it might not be immediately clear what the role is, but what we know absolutely is their value is not connected to what they look like.
Are you struggling with body image? Would you like to learn more about Timberline Knolls and what is offered for eating disorder treatment? Check out www.timberlineknolls.com or call MEDA at 617-558-1881.
By Amy M. Klimek, MA. LPC
Eating Disorder Program Coordinator, Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center
By now most of us are well aware of the possible negative aspects of social media sites. Because these sites are visually driven; even the most savvy or secure people can get caught in the trap of comparing themselves to others, especially when it comes to size.
To avoid getting caught in rapid fire self-defeating thoughts, try to focus on the intention regarding how you use social media platforms.
The first aspect of intentionality is time. It is very beneficial to decide in advance how much time will be allocated each day to social media. Think about it: in professional life, you may get one hour for lunch; in personal life, you may decide to exercise for 30 minutes or one hour. Why not place a boundary for your time spent on social media? Get on, take care of business, and then get off.
In terms of intentionality, seriously examine your motivation— what purpose do social media sites serve your life? Do you use these platforms to connect with others, stay empowered, and build positive experiences with family and friends? Or do you explore sites that bring up self-defeating, judgmental thoughts about yourself, your body, and your life choices?
Toward that end, try to keep a finger on your emotional pulse. After 15 or 20 minutes of engaging; do you feel depressed and inadequate, or positive and energized? If you are experiencing the former, then intentionally log off. You have the choice to give yourself permission to take a break. Notice if your mood improves.
The intentional act of noticing gives you time to control your focus. Are all your Pinterest pages concerned with topics such as dieting, improving appearance, and weight loss? If so, take this opportunity to notice and make changes to building positive experiences instead of finding ways to change yourself.
If you have someone in your life who is profoundly judgmental, shaming or lacks compassion, consider unfriending them. There is no reason to constantly expose yourself to negative or unedifying input.
Do you only post great photos of yourself? What if you do not receive as many favorable comments as you had hoped?
Intentionality extends to what you put out in the world. Perhaps it is time to focus more on your passions and pursuits—who you are in opposition to what you look like. Can you align your time, pins, and status updates to your values, truths, and self defined beauty? With just a few changes, imagine how your outlook on life and opinion of yourself might improve.
Check out our latest post, courtesy of one of our excellent Partner Facilities, Carolina House (part of CRC Health Group)
Food as Communication
Jenn Burnell MS, RD/LDN CEDRD
CRC Health Group
As the Holiday season is setting on the horizon and a new year begins, it is natural for us all to do some reflection. In thinking of all the meals that were shared over these past few weeks, for most, those memories bring feelings of joy and happiness shared with friends and family. Yet for those struggling with an eating disorder, it may be memories of anxiety or even trauma.
The association between food and emotions is evident for everyone, and often are both positive and negative. Try to think back on your favorite food as a child, and try to remember the taste of it – do you notice any emotions come up? Do you automatically smile? For me, I think of my Nana’s oatmeal cookies, and can literally taste the love in them. But for someone who has an eating disorder, those memories may be clouded by fear or distorted thoughts onhealthy pepcid around that food. If there was constant fighting at the dinner table, or comments thrown in their direction about how much they were or weren’t eating, those connections can have long term effects on those meals or those foods. The simple pleasure of breaking bread with loved ones becomes overshadowed by the haunting thoughts of an eating disorder.
While the phrase, “eat to live, don’t live to eat” may have some validity, I think taking that message too literally can have people indeed miss out of the part of living that involves food. The process of making food, sharing food, and eating food with others is an inevitable part of our culture, and a significant part of living that is missed by those with eating disorders. Thus, when recovering from an eating disorder, it is critical not just to challenge those voices of negativity, but also help make food represent a positive source of emotions and a way to communicate love.
Dani Black, the Chef at Carolina House, plays an integral part of that transformation for those seeking eating disorder treatment in the Durham, North Carolina facility. When first entering treatment, the emotions attached to being in the kitchen may be ones of fear and anger. But over time Dani and the culinary staff witness food become a conduit for sharing laughter, camaraderie and thanks. “Working together in the kitchen is a nice way to put food in its proper place.” Dani says. “ We are learning to give and receive help, to work towards a common goal. So food IS simply nourishment, but our bodies and minds crave much more than ‘just’ food. When we gather with others to bake cookies, or make pasta, or prepare and serve salads, or plan and cook a holiday meal, we are satisfying so many other longings. Emotionally, we long for connectedness, for ritual and tradition, for acceptance and our place in a group. Our physical senses of touch, smell, sight and hearing are engaged and satisfied by the hum and chatter of conversation and work, the warm smells, the many different food textures, tasks done and plates made pretty. Then, tasting what we’ve created is a wrap-up, a celebration of the time we spent together, the work we’ve done.”
After a recent culinary group where the participants made pasta from scratch, Dani asked the women how they felt. Where there were surely challenges, there was also a huge sense of accomplishment, and they said, “but it was FUN, and the people who made the pasta for us really CARED about it!”.
Being in treatment during the holidays can leave its own emotional stamp, but the Culinary Team make every effort to bring the joys of Holiday meals into Carolina House. Take a look at the Christmas cookies they made- all I see in this picture is joy. Joy in making, joy in sharing, and for many actually enjoying them.
To ring in New Year’s Day the ladies staying at Carolina House created a menu, including: Paula Deen’s French Toast Casserole, Quiche Popovers, Lentil Walnut Pate with Pita Toasts, Curried Butternut Squash Soup, and Sparkling Juices. These collaborations help bring back the joy into meals.
There is nothing more rewarding than seeing someone “come back to life” in the recovery process. Learning to use one’s voice is often a crucial skill learned while recovering, not just in words but in actions. When one can see how preparing and sharing food can be an expression of those thoughts and emotions in a mindful and balanced way, one’s path in recovery truly is more alive.
To learn more about Carolina House, check out their website here:http://carolinahouse.crchealth.com/