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Friday, 31 May 2019

How to Overcome Anorexia and Regain a Healthy Relationship With Your Food

By Dr Becky Spelman

Anorexia, at its core is a psychological condition resulting in extreme starvation, due to poor body image. And with the increasing attention given to external beauty, owing to the unrealistic standards portrayed in fashion and media, it’s becoming more of an issue, not only for young women but also men, too. It’s estimated in the US approximately 0.9% of women have been or are affected by the condition in their lifetime with the number at 0.3% for men. However, there is such stigma surrounding eating disorders amongst males that figure could be higher.

Anorexia is sometimes viewed as a contrarian form of mental illness that isn’t worthy of the coverage it receives – at least in some sections of the society. But the reality is the figures don’t lie. It is very real. The mortality rate for the condition is higher than any other psychiatric condition (including depression). It accounts for twelve times the death rate of all other causes combined in females between 15-24 years old, and an estimated 20% of cases result in fatalities. These are quite alarming numbers, which begs the question not only what can be done? But more importantly, what you do to help yourself? Here are some tips to consider if you or anyone else you know is struggling with the condition:


Quite simply, first and foremost, you need to believe you can recover. And one of the most effective ways of affecting positive change in your life is finding people who’ve done the same thing you’re trying to do, now. By having these points of reference, those people can serve as positive examples and help you condition the mind into believing you can rid yourself of yourillness. Reading other people’s success stories is a great way to encourage the subconscious mind to accept the pursuit of your goals.


Becoming aware of how your anorexia functions is one of the biggest tools in your arsenal, but also one of the biggest hurdles you’ll face. Because not only does it require you to accept you have an eating disorder, it also requires you to have the presence of mind to catch these patterns as they’re occurring. It is only by doing this that you can begin the process of making choices at the conscious level to bed in new and more positive behavioural patterns. This is the process any therapist will to encourage you engage with, but is one you can work on by yourself.

Taming the Negative Self-Talk

When trying to bring a sense of mindfulness to your process and triggers, the most obvious thing catching your attention will be the negative self-talk around your food choices. You may often find yourself tempted to eat a favourite meal you’ve enjoyed for years, which has now become black-listed by the voice in your head warning you against it. This is the voice that attempts to justify your stance, encouraging avoidance, restrictive behaviours and even purging. It is the voice of your condition – it is not you. And for you to successfully recovery, it must be tamed and reconditioned with positive thoughts around food.

Changing Your Attitude Towards Food

Eating is necessary – there’s no getting around it. We need to ingest a certain amount of nutrient-rich food, so we can function at our best. Instead of holding the view that food is a form of punishment or penance that’s going to sabotage the way you look, let go of the concept of the external you. Re-imagine your food as your fuel for wellness, and be grateful for the nourishment it provides to sustain you for another day. You would literally die without it. Think about the ways (good) food makes you feel instead of how you perceive it makes you look.

Changing Your Perception of the World

What you see isn’t the truth, only your truth. Your view of the world is subjective, just as everyone else’s is, and it’s through the attachment to your truths that your perception of the world becomes distorted. This is the mindset that leads to the over-identifying with specific images to which you feel you should conform – those that will make you happier, more popular and at ease with yourself. This is the ‘perception deception’ that creates much of the issues with anorexia.

Reconditioning the Mind

When you’re seeing the world through your ‘perception deception filters,’ it provides a distorted outlook on life, reinforcing negative self-image, telling you, ‘you’re fat,’ or ‘you’re ugly.’ That you’re imperfect and need to change. As long as this continues, it doesn’t matter how much you alter your appearance. The poor self-image will still be present. To fully rid yourself of the negative conditioning, you need to replace those programs with ones that promote positive self-worth. What you believe is what you become, and to overcome your anorexia you have to convince yourself that you’re not the person who’s stuck in this loop. You’re someone much stronger, capable and willing to accept themselves for who they are, regardless of society’s expectations.

***If either you or anyone else you know is exhibiting any of these signs, and feel as though you would like further advice regarding Anorexia, one of our specialists would be happy to provide you with a FREE 15 MINUTE CONSULTATION.

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