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Stick Your Toe in the Water of Eating Disorder Treatment

Posted May 31 2012 12:36am

Trust means to place confidence in. Lately, at work, I have been talking a lot about how eating disorder treatment has a lot to do with trust…




Trust, that your body will know what to do with the food you eat.


Trust, that your dietitian won’t make you eat more than you need to or make you gain weight past your target weight range.


Trust, that healthy does not mean fat and that it can still be thin.


Trust, that your therapist will respect your boundaries, listen, provide guidance, and help you sort through your issues.


Trust, that your doctor will monitor your physical status, only prescribe necessary meds, and make ethical decisions regarding your care.


Trust, that despite how difficult working towards recovery feels; it will be worth it.


Trust, that a recovered life can be better than a life spent wrapped up in an eating disorder.


Trust, that you are capable and that you can do this (recover).


Trust, that trying that brownie (or other fear food) won’t make you blow up like a balloon over night.


Trust, that you will be OK if you don’t engage in an eating disorder behavior.


Trust, that your feelings and emotions won’t kill you, but that covering them up and numbing them out, just might.


Trust, that your preconceived notion that your eating disorder keeps you in control is completely and utterly false.


Trust, that your eating disorder voice does not have your best interest at heart.


Trust, that you are most likely distorted in how you see yourself.


Trust, that struggling with the recovery process does not mean that you should give up.


Trust, that today might be a rough day, but that doesn’t mean tomorrow can’t be better.


Trust, that you are more than a number on the scale or a size in a pair of jeans.


Trust, that you do have worth and value outside of your eating disorder.



I think I could go on and on and on, but I assume that you probably get the point…How do you learn to trust though?



Well, it’s a lot like getting into a pool. Stick your toe into the water. Test it out. Pull your toe out and after a few seconds, put it into the water again. Before you know it, almost your whole leg will be emerged. Soon, you will be up to your waist in the water. Then, you start to splash your arms and shoulders with water. Despite the water still feeling cold, you decide to dip your whole body underneath the water, head and all. It’s a bit of a shock initially…the water feels a bit chilly. However, you’ve been working up to this and the last plunge underneath wasn’t so shocking and unbearable as if you would have just jumped right in from the start. You swim around for a little bit because you have now gotten used to the water temperature. You then get out and sit in the sun. About a half an hour later you decide to go for another swim. This second time though, you’ll jump right in.



Much like the small steps it often takes us to get into a pool, start by giving the small aspects of the treatment process and those involved a chance. Don’t think your body will know what to do with a whole brownie? How about just one bite of it? Don’t know if you can tell your therapist your whole life story? Start with bits and pieces. Don’t know if you can handle abstaining from eating disorder behaviors? Work on at least trying a few other coping skills first. Test the water and work on trusting slowly. Each small step will make the plunge of choosing, working on, and continuing the recovery process more tolerable and trust worthy. It’s going to feel like a shock to your body and mind at times, much like emerging yourself in pool water. The more you work up to it though, the more bearable and less shocking it will feel. Eventually, you will be able to find trust...

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