How To Enhance Your Personal Relationships During Eating Disorder Treatment

Anorexia or bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and voidant/restrictive food intake disorder it doesn’t matter what type of eating disorder you have, it can affect your personal relationships with other people. Through the best eating disorder treatment, you will learn a lot about how to break through those social relationship challenges to find a better way to connect with others. Check out some of the ways to enhance your personal relationships during your time spent in an eating disorder treatment center.

The road to recovery from an eating disorder starts with admitting you have a problem. This admission can be tough, especially if you’re still clinging to the belief that weight loss is the key to your happiness, confidence, and success. Even when you finally understand this isn’t true, old habits are still hard to break.

The good news is that the behaviors you’ve learned can also be unlearned. Just as anyone can develop an eating disorder, so too, anyone can get better. However, overcoming an eating disorder is about more than giving up unhealthy eating behaviors. It’s also about learning new ways to cope with emotional pain and rediscovering who you are beyond your eating habits, weight, and body image.

Take Part in Group Therapy Activities During Eating Disorder Treatment

Even though the people who are in treatment with you may be total strangers, they will often have things in common with you and understand you in ways that others cannot. When you enter the best eating disorder treatment facilities, group therapy is often provided or even a requirement. If you want to see your personal relationships with others get better, taking part and being active in group therapy activities can be hugely beneficial. During group therapy, you will:

  • Develop new communications skills that can be used in other relationships
  • Build confidence in yourself when it comes to discussing your thoughts and feelings or offering advice
  • Find new ways to express your thoughts when conversing with others

An eating disorder psychologist tends to lead group meetings during eating disorder treatment. They will guide the conversations, but they will also allow time for discussions between group members to help encourage the development of those social skills that may be lacking.

Invite Your Close Family Members for Family Therapy

Family therapy is an integral part of many types of psychological treatment, and it is for good reason. In many ways, those who you have had the closest relationships with have been living with an eating disorder just like you have; the primary difference being that they have to deal with the repercussions of your actions in a different way. Having your family work through the issues relative to the disorder is part of the best eating disorder treatment. Once you get out of treatment, your family will be the people you rely on to help you when you have a tough time with recovery.

Open Up to Loved Ones About Your Disorder and Recovery

Those who spend some time with an eating disorder psychologist often find themselves facing stumbling blocks in their personal relationships because they have kept their disorder a secret for so long. It is hard to reach out for help from the people you love, but those are the people who will support your recovery once you leave an eating disorder treatment center.

Family Involvement and Counseling

Opening up to your loved ones about your disorder shows that you are building strength and a good support system to move forward with your life. Whether it is your parents, siblings, or significant other, these people will be able to help you more when they understand what you have been through with your eating disorder.

Treatment at either an inpatient or outpatient can’t last forever. That’s why the family’s involvement in the aftercare period and afterwards is so essential. By employing various techniques and practices used while in treatment, such as journaling, family counseling sessions, planned restaurant excursions and cooking sessions, people in recovery can include their family in their treatment. This direct involvement strengthens the bonds between the people involved and produces a support system, which is essential in relapse prevention and ongoing recovery.

Overcoming Shame and Asking for Help

An eating disorder is a condition that is oftentimes so private and involves a lot of shame, these personal feelings can easily affect how you interact with the people around you. However, through treatment and therapy, you will learn how to open up and rebuild those relationships that may have suffered throughout your disorder.

Trusting those closest to you is key when starting, and also when finished, eating disorder treatment. When the family is involved from the beginning, it makes the entire journey a collaborative affair. Reach out to a qualified professional or facility to find out more about involving your family and friends as part of your eating disorder treatment options.

Reach out for support

Once you’ve decided to make a change, opening up about the problem is an important step on the road to recovery. It can feel scary or embarrassing to seek help for an eating disorder, so it’s important to choose someone who will be supportive and truly listen without judging you or rejecting you. This could be a close friend or family member or a youth leader, teacher, or school counselor you trust. Or you may be more comfortable confiding in a therapist or doctor.

Choose the right time and place: There are no hard and fast rules for telling someone about your eating disorder. But be mindful about choosing the right time and place ideally somewhere private where you won’t be rushed or interrupted.

Starting the conversation: This can be the hardest part. One way to start is by simply saying, I’ve got something important to tell you. It’s difficult for me to talk about this, so it would mean a lot if you’d be patient and hear me out. From there, you may want to talk about when your eating disorder started, the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors involved, and how the disorder has impacted you.

Be patient: Your friend or family member will have their own emotional reaction to learning about your eating disorder. They may feel shocked, helpless, confused, sad, or even angry. They may not know how to respond or help you. Give them time to digest what you’re telling them. It’s also important to educate them about your specific eating disorder.

Be specific about how the person can best support you: For example, you may want them to help you find treatment, accompany you to see a doctor, check in with you regularly about how you’re feeling, or find some other way of supporting your recovery without turning into the food police.

Getting treatment for an eating disorder

While there are a variety of different treatment options available for those struggling with eating disorders, it is important to find the treatment, or combination of treatments, that works best for you.

Effective treatment should address more than just your symptoms and destructive eating habits. It should also address the root causes of the problem the emotional triggers that lead to disordered eating and your difficulty coping with stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, or other uncomfortable emotions.

Develop a balanced relationship with food

Even though food itself is not the problem, developing a healthier relationship with it is essential to your recovery. Most people with eating disorders struggle with issues of control when it comes to food often fluctuating between strict rules and chaos. The goal is to find a balance.

Let go of rigid eating rules: Strict rules about food and eating fuel eating disorders, so it’s important to replace them with healthier ones. For example, if you have a rule forbidding all desserts, change it into a less rigid guideline such as, “I won’t eat dessert every day.” You won’t gain weight by enjoying an occasional ice cream or cookie.

Don’t diet: The more you restrict food, the more likely it is that you’ll become preoccupied, and even obsessed, with it. So instead of focusing on what you “shouldn’t” eat, focus on nutritious foods that will energize you and make your body strong. Think of food as fuel for your body. Your body knows when the tank is low, so listen to it. Eat when you’re truly hungry, then stop when you’re full.

Stick to a regular eating schedule: You may be used to skipping meals or fasting for long stretches. But when you starve yourself, food becomes all you think about. To avoid this preoccupation, try to eat every three hours. Plan ahead for meals and snacks, and don’t skip!

Learn to listen to your body: If you have an eating disorder, you’ve learned to ignore your body’s hunger and fullness signals. You may not even recognize them anymore. The goal is to get back in touch with these internal cues, so you can eat based on your physiological needs, not your emotions.

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