Restricting, binge eating and purging name only a few of the many obvious eating disorder behaviors. Subtle ED comes in the form of rules and guidelines that may be innocently referred to as “diet mentality”. Diet mentality for those working in recovery may be overlooked, all the while, subtly fueling the eating disordered thoughts. The following examples have been shared with me through my clients who have been able to dig even deeper into honest and thorough recovery. Challenging subtle ED requires an increased awareness and conquering them can be very empowering. I hope it helps.
USING ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS. Ordering sugar-free flavors, using artificial sweeteners, non-dairy creamers may seem just habitual, however, it is likely viewed as a necessity credited to diet mentality. Challenge using regular sugar or non-diet sweeteners. If you use a lot, try to cut back, without resorting to diet sugars. Artificial sweeteners are potent, allow time for your taste to adjust.
LABELS AND CALORIES. When buying foods, such as bread, cereal, yogurts etc., is your selection based on the lower calorie option? The item may only be 10 or 15 calories less, and this determines what you choose, never changing brands out of fear of calories. Challenge the rigidity. Let someone else do the shopping or make a list of 2-3 items to select new brands, weekly.
NON-CALORIE BEVERAGES. Might there be a “rule”…only calorie free drinks? Plain coffee, plain tea, diet soda, non-calorie sport drinks. This doesn’t have to be every item you drink, try to mix it up, having a latte instead of coffee or regular cola. Try asking yourself, “What do I really want?”
PROTEIN BARS VS. CANDY BARS. Oreo cookie, chocolate caramel, double chocolate...Have you noticed that many protein bars sound a lot like candy bars? Have you replaced candy completely? Or do you allow both? Is this a challenge for you? Only you can honestly answer this question.
DESSERTS. Are you working in recovery to liberalize desserts? Allowing desserts without rules can be challenging. Maybe you have food rules that allow dessert only after dinner or once a week. Can you challenge the rigidity here? You can use the exchange method or set a new rule that is more flexible, eventually working on letting go of all rules.
FOOD RANKING. Apples or bananas, almond butter or peanut butter, brown rice or white, white meat chicken or dark, frozen yogurt or ice cream? I have heard many, many more. Excessive food rules are a form of deprivation and a set-up for ED. Honoring your preferences while challenging variety is a winning combination for recovery.
I INVITE YOU TO EXPLORE, BE HONEST, BE WELL AND EAT FREE