Eating Disorders: Is Your Eating Disorder Trapping You With Fear?

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Can You Trust Your Eating Disorder To Tell You The Truth?

BY DR SARAH HUGHES

There are so many reasons for me to hate your Eating Disorder, but I hate it most because it’s tricked you into thinking that your weight is the most important thing about you.

It’s just not true. You are so much more than your weight.

One number can’t possibly encapsulate just how amazing you are. It can’t measure your intelligence, your compassion, your sense of humour, your determination – all of the wonderful qualities the people in your life admire you for.

Your weight is the LEAST interesting thing about you

Your weight is the LEAST interesting thing about you

As you read this, your Eating Disorder will tell you that I’m lying, that your weight IS the most important thing. It will also probably tell you that I’m only telling you weight isn’t important because I want you to be fat. I have zero interest in making you fat. I don’t even know you. Your weight doesn’t impact my life in anyway. I have nothing to gain from lying to you…but the Eating Disorder does. If it can get you to buy into its ‘weight is everything’ philosophy it gains power…and that’s exactly what it wants.

Your Eating Disorder wants control and it will do anything to get it. It will lie, cheat – whatever it takes. It will tell you whatever it needs to, to get you to surrender – “Snacks are unnecessary calories, you don’t need to eat them”…“If you eat pasta you’ll get fat”…“Feeling full means you’ve eaten too much and you’re going to gain weight”. The thought of getting fat fills you with fear and so you give in. You skip snacks and eat only two small meals. You avoid eating pasta. You always finish eating before you feel full.

But here’s the things about fear – it can trap you and keep you stuck. What if eating 3 meals each day won’t make you fat. What if all the rules your Eating Disorder makes you live by are lies? What if all this time you’ve been avoiding pasta to avoid getting fat when eating it wouldn’t have made you fat anyway?

Same goes for Eating Disorders...

Same goes for Eating Disorders…

I know that even the thought of going against your Eating Disorder probably fills you with anxiety and dread, but imagine this. Imagine getting to a point where you’re so fed up with the Eating Disorder that you think screw it. You have pasta for dinner…and your weight doesn’t change. So you gradually start testing all the rules your Eating Disorder has made you live by only to discover that you’ve been duped. Your Eating Disorder used fear to control you – none of the things it told you were actually true. Now imagine you don’t wait until you’re fed up and you start testing the rules now.

It feels impossible, I know. It’s really hard to go against your Eating Disorder because going against the Eating Disorder means having to endure intense anxiety and high distress. Getting rid of the Eating Disorder is going to mean doing things that make you feel anxious…but aren’t you already anxious?

The anxiety you feel now is wasteful anxiety. It doesn’t help you to achieve anything, it just feels awful. The anxiety you feel when you challenge your Eating Disorder is productive anxiety – it feels just as unpleasant but it’s anxiety that will help you to feel less anxious in the future. How? Because you’ll get to see – through experience and not just from other people telling you – that your Eating Disorder has been lying to you.

Imagine what it would mean – what being free of the Eating Disorder would look like. What if on the other side of fear lies freedom?

Dr. Sarah Hughes is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Think Clinical Psychologists. She enjoys working with children, adolescents, and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, postnatal depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and challenging behaviour.


 

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