‘I want to order the salad. I mean, I think I want to order the salad, but I don’t know if it’s really my eating disorder that wants to order it.’
‘I want to go for a run but so does my eating disorder. What do I do with that?’
If this is happening in your mind...it’s ok! When you start to move into recovery, two things can be true. There can be a part of you – the real soul self you – that wants to do something like choose a certain food or exercise...and, your ED can get a kick out of it too.
When I first started coaching, I was doing a meal session with a client and she very deliberately left her crusts on the plate.
‘What’s up with the crusts?’ I asked her.
‘Oh, I don’t like crusts.’ She told me.
That was fine by me if she really didn’t like them, but I also knew that if she was leaving her crusts behind, she wasn’t getting all the nutrition and energy she needed for the day.
‘If that’s the case, when you have sandwiches, I need you to have three pieces of bread.’
She looked up at me incredulously, ‘Really?’
‘Really.’ I told her.
‘Ok, I will do that next time.’
Hello eating disorder! I thought to myself. ‘Mmmm, recovery is about what you do now, not what you will do tomorrow. I need you to get the extra bread now.’
She picked up the crusts and started eating them. Over the coming weeks my client was surprised to find that she didn’t prefer crusts, but her eating disorder was hijacking that preference in its favour.
As soon we brought in the ‘well if you aren’t going to eat x then you have to supplement your food with an appropriate equivalent.’ Her eating disorder quietened down considerably.
A few questions to help you tease out your healthy voice...
In a choice between salad and pizza and you think you want the salad...
- What is my intention in getting the salad? Why am I leaning towards it today?
- If the pizza was the only thing available on the menu, how would I feel about eating it?
- Is the salad appropriate? I.e., does it have all the components of a meal; carbs, fats, protein etc? If it doesn’t, what do I need to add as a side to make it appropriate and am I willing to do that?
- Would I be willing to return to this restaurant next week and have the pizza? (If yes...you need to actually follow through on that, not just be hypothetical about it. It’s always easier to hypothetically do the thing. I’m a great hypothetical bungee jumper).
- Would eating pizza affect my food/exercise later?
- My truth, if I had a five year old sitting next to me that knew the innermost workings of my heart and mind, would I be role modelling freedom and peace with the choice I am about to make?
In a choice between walking and running and you think you want to run...
- What are my intentions for running vs walking?
- Is there something about walking I am afraid of?
- Would walking today affect my food later?
- Would running give me more ‘permission’ to eat?
- How would I know if running was right for me right now?
- If a hailstorm suddenly blew over and I couldn’t go out at all, how much would that bother me right now?
- What signals would my body and mind give me if running wasn’t the best thing for me?
- Am I able to listen to them today?
- Who can I tell to hold myself accountable for my intentions?
As with all recovery tools, an eating disorder can take anything and twist it to its advantage.
The purposes of the above questions are not to drive you crazy with intellectualizing your choices. They are there to help you probe a little deeper into your intentions.
Got questions? Email them in and we will do our best to address them : )