How To Silence The Eating Disorder Voice In Your Head
When you have an eating disorder, it feels like you are constantly waging war against yourself and your mind.It is so frustrating because you are exhausted from challenging thoughts all day long. Those thoughts can be referred to as your eating disorder voice. You are working so hard in your recovery, yet this voice in your head continues to remind you of your old eating disorder ways. It is so frustrating because you keep seeing food as confusing and scary, even though you don’t want it to be. You want to eat like a normal person, but the thought of eating is also really scary. You wish you could trust your body, you have even tried trusting it, but the voice in your head just won’t give you break. As you work to challenge this thinking you end up feeling more confused because of so many questions swirling around in your head. But you don’t have to believe all these confusing, scary, overwhelming, and anxiety provoking thoughts.
When you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed by the eating disorder voice in your head try these things to help you feel empowered in your recovery.
Remember the eating disorder voice is a liar. These thoughts, you know the mean ones, the judgmental ones, the critical ones, the ones that make you feel really upset about food and your body, are the eating disorder voice. It feels like you have two different brains in your head. Just because the eating disorder voice is filling your head with all the negative thoughts about you, your body, and the food you eat doesn’t mean they are true.
You don’t have to believe every thought that pops into your head. Sure the eating disorder voice feels true. It feels true because the thoughts come so easily into your mind. But keep in mind these thoughts are not true, it is your brain distorting information. When you are struggling with believing the eating disorder voice in your head, try asking yourself “is this thinking helpful”?
You are the boss of your head, not your eating disorder. If you determine a thought to be unhelpful you don’t have to indulge it. You can choose to dismiss the thought - even it feels true, feelings are not fact! Feelings are your body’s physiological response to thoughts in your head. Use the emotions as information to help you determine what is wrong and find a solution to help you manage the emotion - not the thoughts.
Practice separating yourself from the eating disorder voice. You are not your eating disorder. The eating disorder is a disease that is causing thinking in your mind to be distorted. When the unhelpful and harmful thoughts pop up in your mind you can practice a skill called thought diffusion.
Thought diffusion is a skill from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy where you unattach yourself from the thought. So rather than seeing the thought as truth you see the thought as just a sentence floating through your mind. We want to believe the thoughts that come into our minds, but you don’t have to - especially the eating disorder thoughts. Here is how you can practice thought diffusion.
Look at your thoughts. Don’t judge them as right or wrong, or good as bad. Just observe the words as they float through your brain.
Don’t attach yourself to the thought. Again, just because the thought is in your brain doesn’t mean it is true.
Thoughts come and go. Just as easily as the thought entered your mind, it can and will leave.
Ask yourself “is this thought helpful”? Most likely the eating disorder thought is not helpful. So follow this question up by asking yourself “what is a more helpful thought?”
How is the more helpful thought true? Now spend some time asking yourself and looking for evidence that the more helpful thought is true. Is there something you can go do to help the more helpful thought stick?
We want to attach ourselves to every thought in our minds, and this is not productive, nor is it helpful. When you have an eating disorder your brain distorts information and twists it, so holding onto these type of thinking is going to keep you at war with your mind. Rather than fight your brain to shut up, practice separating yourself from the thoughts.
The thoughts are not a reflection of you or your values, and learning to diffuse this thinking will help you feel more confident, and less frustrated, on your path to recovery.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Stephanie Waitt
Dr. Stephanie Waitt resides in Sherman, TX. She is a therapist that specializes in treating eating disorders. She works with young adults and teens to recover from disordered eating and find confidence and happiness. Stephanie is dedicated to helping individuals receive access to eating disorder treatment. She believes that everyone deserves quality and specialized treatment. She is passionate about eating disorder awareness, dogs, and Wonder Woman. You can find her spending time with her husband visiting comic book stores or a craft brewery, and hanging out with her beloved Golden Retriever Prince Fenway and Corgi Lord Odin. You can learn more about Stephanie at www.texomaspecialtycounseling.com.