Treatments for Bulimia and Keys to Bulimia Recovery - Create New Habits

Your habits can be used to your advantage as a part of treatments for bulimia
Your habits can be used to your advantage as a part of treatments for bulimia

Watch your thoughts, they become your words.

Watch your words, they become your actions.

Watch your actions, they become your habits.

Watch your habits, they become your character.

Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

(quote from unknown author)

If you do something long enough it becomes a habit: good or bad. Your habits can be used to your advantage as a part of treatments for bulimia. How? Let me explain.

For 20 years I engaged in terrible eating habits as a means of dealing with life. Feeling stress and loneliness often meant I comforted myself by binging and purging, also known as the eating disorder bulimia. This became a habit – a coping mechanism. The whole vicious cycle grew out of control and ran my life on and off for two decades.

In order to be successful, treatments for bulimia mean breaking free from habits of coping with life that are not supporting you. Here are a few ideas for what you can do to break harmful habits and overcome bulimia, too.

Identify Bad Habits

When I was in the midst of my eating disorder on a daily basis I would find myself heading to the grocery store after a stressful day at the office.  I would buy groceries to feed my habit of binging to cope with the feeling of stress I felt each day.  Thus, my habit pattern was going to the grocery store on my way home from work.  I recognized that if I was ever going to regain control of my life I would have to stop this destructive habit.

Replace with New Habits

If you have a habit that you want to release, it is often more effective to replace it with a new habit than to try to stop cold.  For instance, smokers who want to kick the habit need something to do with their hands instead of holding a cigarette.  They may resort to twirling a pen, squeezing a stress ball, and so on. They are replacing one element of their habit with another.  This makes it easier to give up the really harmful habit for a harmless one.

This substitution method can also help to break habits associated with bulimia. Decide what new habit you will replace your old habit of turning to food to cope with stress or painful feelings will be.  Instead of binging, go for a walk, take 10 breaths, meditate, or use visualization techniques to tide over that urge.  This replaces a habit that isn’t good for you (binging) with one that is (a relaxation technique).

Practice and Stay Committed

Be consistent with your habit-changing routine. Practicing an action for 30 days will engrain it in your brain.  After 30 days, the new action becomes a habit. This process can become an important part in your treatments for bulimia.

For the next month, each time that you feel stress coming on, consistently practice your relaxation technique, or another healthy habit you choose.  It may be difficult to begin with, but staying consistent and committed to your decision until it becomes a habit is crucial in the beginning.

Recall and Reinforce

You can help stay the course while creating your new habit by using a mantra or an incantation that you personally find an effective and helpful part of treatments for bulimia.  You can tell yourself that you will not eat that cookie because you know you will then polish off the whole bag. You can repeat positive statements like “I am stronger than my craving”, “I choose healthy, nourishing foods”, or “This too shall pass.”

Each time you feel the urge to binge coming on, recall the mantra you have chosen.  While you repeat it, recall how much better you felt each time you were able to avoid giving in to an unhealthy urge.  Recall the satisfaction you felt by avoiding bulimia. This recall and repetition helps to reinforce the behavior and replace feelings of guilt with ones of empowerment.  The more you refrain from your old habit, the stronger your resistance becomes and eventually you will not need to work so hard at it.

If you’re suffering from bulimia then you have the habit of turning to food when you’re stressed or faced with challenging situations.  Aside from this obvious habit, take a long look at other unhealthy habits that are not supporting you and begin to replace them with new, supportive habits.

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