Saturday, October 16, 2010

Four Phases of Recovery +

Being given the opportunity once again to attend the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) Conference for 2010, was quite an honor.
I'd like to share some insight that was emphasized once again for me while I was there.

Recovery from an eating disorder can be broken into four main phases, which of course, look and play out differently for every individual.
#1) The Turning Point: this is a subjective response to having 'enough', being tired of being sick. This phase may require multiple 'moments', each of which builds strength upon strength, until the person makes the decision to get help. One must decide to move beyond the state of arrested development that an eating disorder often signifies. This phase marks the beginning of a process (recovery) that may take years to complete.
#2) Treatment: this phase is mandatory for FULL recovery. While treatment can't 'cure' an eating disorder, it can help a person develop the self-responsibility that is necessary to complete the process.
#3) Restoration: this is the phase during which physical health is restored. A person who became ill at age 14 may need time to 'catch up' developmentally. They have experienced 'delayed adolescence' in a sense. This is an involved, yet exciting time of exploration. This is also when a person begins to restore a core sense of self.
#4) Discovery: an exploration of one's major life goal, moving toward a mature sense of self. A person's individual character and personality will begin to bloom, which leads to a level of empowerment and self-directedness never reached before.

THE BONUS PHASE: The Wise Mind: This is when trust in recovery develops, fears disappear, and the former shame and stigma that may have been felt about having an eating disorder morphs into a new freedom and a deeper understanding of self.

Without apology ♥

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Exchanges vs.Calories

So what is wrong with the 'exchange system'?
Unless you have an eating disorder.
I don't know the history of the 'exchange system', which is often used in the field of nutrition. I don't doubt that it's been useful for many people who may need some structure for eating, due to any number of medical illnesses.
What I DO know is that it's likely the worst possible approach to meal planning for someone who is in treatment for an eating disorder.
If you are reading this, you likely know that the mindset of someone suffering with an eating disorder is not usually rational. This in itself is due to malnutrition and [likely] being in a state of starvation. Even people who struggle with bingeing and purging are starving. Their bodies are being deprived of consistent, adequate nutrition.
The eating disordered mind thinks in terms of 'less' and 'smaller' and often classifies foods as good or bad.
With the exchange system of tracking food intake, you have four or five major food categories which make up your recommended daily intake. Within these categories you may have numerous choices, which are supposedly interchangeable. The truth is, when you compare nutritional value (calories), these choices could vary up to 50-75 calories among items in a certain category. What do you think the person with the eating disordered mindset is going to choose? Naturally, they will always pick the lower calorie item. Don't doubt for one minute that they don't know which item that is.
For example, apples can vary greatly in size, and up to 50 calories based on their size. The same goes for a slice of bread. Different types of bread can also vary at least this much.
If you consider a person's intake for an entire day, and they have made these choices with an eating disordered mindset, they could end up eating several hundred calories less than if they had made different choices within those food categories.
If you don't have an eating disorder, and never have, I can't begin to explain or help you comprehend the power of that eating disordered mindset. The person cannot help but choose according to their eating disordered beliefs.
Precise calories is the only sure and safe way to develop a recovery meal plan. Unless you know the precise and exact calories that you are eating, there is no way to know how your body will react to food and calories. This is also the only way to challenge the fears that a person with an eating disorder has about food. There is a science behind this, in terms of using this concept in treatment. I am not a scientist, nor do I claim to be. But I do know, without a doubt, that this works. Otherwise, I would not be alive tonight to write this.
Counting calories can be a healthy thing when used for recovery, and it's a way of maintaining control, while learning how to let go of unnecessary control of other areas of your life.
Meal planning and counting calories is necessary for effective treatment, but it doesn't have to last forever.
Believe me, it's much better than living [or dying] with an eating disorder.
Without apology....♥

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Setting Personal Boundaries

Many of us have real problems setting personal boundaries, with others, ourselves, and yes, an eating disorder!
Here are a few things I have learned along the way in my own recovery, that have proven to be true and helpful....
**Establishing boundaries helps to keep you safe. Others know they cannot take advantage of you. Your messages are clear. We have a right and a duty to protect ourselves!
**If you don't set boundaries, you could be giving yourself away. YOU are in control of how much you give, and also how much you keep of yourself for yourself.
**Setting boundaries with others can actually help THEM grow. It helps to make them conscious of their own behaviors which may allow them to change as well.
**Setting boundaries may allow you to get more of what YOU want and less of what you don't. You can protect yourself from unwanted behaviors, and encourage the behaviors that will empower you.
**Effective people set boundaries. You are more in control of your time and efforts, and this can greatly increase the positive feelings you have about yourself.
**Stand up for yourself-don't back down! In order for this to work for you, you must develop a commitment to uphold what is right and true for YOU. Be consistent!
**Practice makes perfect! This is new behavior, and it will FEEL awkward, and maybe not GOOD, but the more you practice it and experience the rewards, the better it will FEEL. It will become more automatic and comfortable in time.
Some examples of personal boundaries:
People may NOT:
**Criticize me.
**Humiliate me.
**Invade my personal space or belongings.
**Lie to me.
**Make derogatory comments about my appearance.
**Take advantage of me.
**Take their anger or frustration out on me.

Put this into practice and see how it affect the relationships you have with those around you, and with yourself!

Without apology..... ♥