Category Archives for "Eating Disorder"

How to Feel Better in Your Body

By Rebecca Capps | Eating Disorder , Healing , Uncategorized

How To Feel Better In Your Body | Blog Post featured image | Mind Body Holistic Counseling | Santa Barbara, CA 93101

I suffered from an eating disorder when I was a young girl. When I looked in the mirror, I hated what I saw. I wanted to scratch myself out of my body. Every minute felt uncomfortable, and my life felt out-of-control. I viewed starvation as a tool for control and to escape the realm of my emotions. I remember how difficult it was to feel centered back then.

Thankfully, a lot has changed since my youth. Today, I don’t run from my life; I run into it, and you can dive fully into life, too. If you are wanting to feel better in your body and to cultivate an inner sense of calm, try following the tips that I’ve presented in this post that have helped me with my own recovery.

 

Feel Better in Your Body Through Mindfulness and Meditation

Many women do self-destructive and harmful things to mask how they feel in their body and mind. For example, you may refuse to eat because you enjoy the feeling of control and power that come with self-denial. Or, you may drink excessively and do drugs in an attempt to anesthetize your emotions. Whatever is true for you, honor this truth and then start by committing to practicing a daily mindfulness routine. Meditation can be exceedingly helpful to individuals who are plagued by negative thoughts and feelings, or obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Based on my own experience of practicing meditation and deep breathing, I can honestly say that mindfulness has helped me to better deal with my negative emotions and self-destructive urges. Through mindfulness, I feel more optimistic about my life now than ever before.

The beauty of mindfulness is that it involves expanding your awareness of your internal thoughts and emotions, focusing on the now, and on becoming aware of your habitual patterns of responding to life stressors. Mindfulness teaches you to simply observe your thoughts, emotions, sensations, and memories without immediately labeling them as good or bad. By stepping back and observing, instead of being ruled by your emotions, you will be more equipped to choose how you wish to feel and act when faced with adversities.

 

Feel better in Your Body Through Relationships with Thoughts

Negative thinking patterns keep women focused on controlling themselves as a way of coping. Pressures to be thin, coping internally with stress, or feeling overly empathetic toward others causes many women to develop maladaptive ways of thinking about themselves and the world. For those who suffer from a full-blown eating disorder, controlling the body is a way of relieving distress and providing a sense of safety; however, this style of coping is unhealthy for many reasons, including the fact that it is a ripe breeding ground for cognitive distortions to occur.

The eating disordered voice is a cruel, never-ending dialogue that plays in the mind of the sufferer and causes her to think only in black-and-white terms. This negative voice also encourages sufferers to continue following their eating disorder behavior, so it’s easy to see how such pronounced negative thoughts can lead to depression and feeling not-good-enough. If you’re wanting to feel better in your body and mind, then, I suggest keeping a journal with the goal of keeping a daily written record of key events (i.e., situations in which you find yourself feeling sad, negative about your body, etc.), including how you feel about them. This will train you to be a witness to your thoughts, not a puppet.

 

Stop Judging Thoughts, Witness and Observe

The critical eating disorder voice is one that tells you that you won’t be happy until you are thin and that your worth is measured only by external merit. However, you will not feel happier or better in your body until you learn how to truly love yourself, which ultimately, requires developing healthier relationships with your thoughts. If I asked you to finish the sentence, “My body….,” what is it that immediately comes to mind? If you’re like many people, your initial thoughts will involve something related to how your body looks. To gain a more balanced perspective, try shifting the focus from how your body looks, to what it can do. Try writing one thing per day about your body that you’re grateful for in your journal. Notice any thoughts that cause you to feel down about your appearance and begin to reframe them with thoughts related to the overall functionality of your body (i.e., “I appreciate that my body enables me to give birth, to walk, etc.”).

 

Forgiveness Helps You Feel Better in Your Body

You can achieve emotional freedom from your suffering. It has always been with you, however, now you must learn to connect with it. Before you can connect to and feel better in your body, you must first focus on the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not for the faint-hearted, especially when you have been wounded. However, to feel better in your body and to live a more meaningful life, this requires work and sometimes involves doing the harder thing.

Forgiveness is a practice of extending grace, one that takes dedication and courage. If you follow the path to forgiveness (of yourself, others, or both), this will give you room to release any shame, resentment, sadness, or anger and make room for more peace in your mind and body. When genuine forgiveness occurs, you will have a greater capacity to connect with both yourself and others in a more meaningful sense.

 

Fuel Your Body with Nourishment and Movement

It is essential to look after the health of both your mind and body. Fueling your body through healthy practices will allow you to; take charge of your life and feel good about the choices you make; feel energized and more positive; find more enjoyment in life, and; connect to your body’s wisdom. I encourage you to mindfully choose food by paying attention to how you feel instead of using harsh “rules” that promote restriction.

In addition to choosing colorful food and intuitively eating, another great way to fuel the body is through yoga. Yoga teaches you how to connect to yourself from the inside out. It shines a bright light on your core strengths, as well as supports you to take small steps to make healthier choices in your recovery. I know that for me, as I kept showing up to my mat, over time, I learned how to be more compassionate with myself and comfortable again in my own body. Practicing yoga has revealed to me that at my core, underneath my sense of aloneness, devastation, and shadow self, there was an unshakeable desire and capacity to heal. In addition to therapy, yoga gave me my first dose of freedom after feeling isolated for so many years by the weight of trauma.

Remember that any significant lifestyle change is an ongoing work in progress. Start by setting smaller, more achievable goals that are simple to add to your everyday routine. Even though it takes time to make lasting lifestyle changes, taking care of your body is one of the most vital connections you can make in this life. Why settle for an unhealthy and fear-based life when you can feel amazing, from the inside and out?! I wish to give others a way to feel as confident and sure about their recovery as I try to be because I know that it’s possible to live a joyous life without an eating disorder. I have discovered that when you take care of your body and mind, you are more prone to adapt to stress and able to amend maladaptive automatic thoughts, which in turn, leaves room for more happiness. And the more joy that you cultivate from within, the more joy you will grow within your relationships. Ultimately, your relationship to your body is a direct reflection of your thoughts and actions—so be mindful of what you want it to reflect.

Miracles Are Your Birthright; Manifesting Through The Power Of Intentions

By Rebecca Capps | Eating Disorder , Healing , Miracles , Perspective

Manifesting Miracles; Eating Disorder Recovery | Blog Post featured image | Mind Body Holistic Counseling | Santa Barbara, CA 93101

When you have a clear vision about what it is that you want, this will enable you to live with greater intention and with purpose. Setting intentions involves choosing what you want in life, holding this vision in your mind, and then making this happen until it becomes your reality. Through the act of intention-setting, you are sending a clear message to the Universe that you are open to receiving miracles.

A miracle can be something as simple as a shift in perspective and setting an intention is the vehicle that will get you there. In my practice, I like to encourage patients to set their intentions regularly, as this demonstrates an openness to choosing to cultivate loving thoughts over fear-based ones. As Dr. Wayne Dyer declared, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.”

If you wish to set intentions that will actually benefit you, then, you must first choose how you want to feel. Once you are clear on how you wish to feel, it becomes easier to choose actions that are in alignment with those feelings. Thoughts become reality, therefore it is important to understand that you are the one who can influence your feelings through the thoughts that you choose to think.

As you create a narrative in your mind for how you wish to feel, make sure to think of it in the present tense, as if you’re already experiencing the feeling. If you believe that your body is ugly, or that you’ll never have enough money or reach your goals, then that’s exactly what you will notice more of. Like attracts like, and everything you encounter will support those beliefs and expand. However, if you consciously work to cultivate a more loving narrative tied to your body image or money beliefs, believing in your mind that you are human and worthy of achieving anything you want, then you are actually training your brain to look for evidence to support these beliefs.

Spend some time meditating and visualizing what it feels like to have all that you desire in-the-now and allowing this to inform your energy and emotions. Trust that the Universe has a plan for you and that you are amazing, just as you are today, because the more faith that you place in your healing process and the power of intentions, the more powerful you’ll become at manifesting that which you desire.

Learning How To Deal With Your Emotions

By Rebecca Capps | Addiction , Eating Disorder

Feel Your Feelings | Mind Body Holistic Counseling | Santa Barbara, CA 93101If you are looking to gain more control over your emotions, the answer to this question is, in part, based on the intensity of the emotions and also your reaction to them. When intense feelings arise, you simply can’t just will them away (and nor would you want to), because they may be communicating something important that you must pay attention to. If the emotion is just a mild irritation, you can likely talk yourself out of feeling it or through distraction. However, if what you’re feeling is deep-seated anger, then clearly you’re going to have to work harder to shift your mood. In either case, it would be crucial to explore what you are feeling and why before choosing a particular response.

If you are wanting to effectively manage your emotions, then you must shift the beliefs that underlie them. For example, if it’s your birthday and your officemates failed to recognize the occasion, you may initially choose to believe that they don’t really care about you, which would lead to you feeling hurt and disappointed. But if you shift your thinking and realize that they may not even know that it’s your birthday, you’ll wind up feeling less sad and rejected. Ultimately, your beliefs create your feelings and your feelings produce your behavior. So if you really want to benefit from your emotions, you’ll have to conduct an extensive examination of your belief system to see which thoughts lead to which affects. It is worth mentioning that the goal isn’t necessarily to control your feelings but instead to effectively handle them as they arise.

In order to effectively handle your emotions and feel healthier in the mind, you must stop trying to avoid feeling bad and instead welcome all of your emotions without judgment. I promise that exploring and allowing yourself to experience your emotions will open your life up for the better. You will no longer look to food, alcohol, shopping, sex, or whatever else you were using for emotional comfort. Happiness does not arise from a magical number on the scale or the fleeting high tied to starving yourself. When you are focused on numbing your emotions rather than processing them and using healthy coping strategies, you stop yourself from living a full and meaningful life.

By familiarizing yourself with your emotions instead of running from them, you will know exactly what it is you need—a new challenge, a divorce, a beach vacation, a good cry, to grieve the loss of a loved one, alone time, etc. The more that you come to accept your feelings, the more you will learn to substitute a new feeling focus in exchange for your old obsession with food (or whatever else you were using as a means to cope). And lastly, remember that you are not going to overcome your addiction or eating disorder simply because you want to. Intent must be paired with consistent action for you to change. Even though everyone deserves to live their best life, only those who work hard to achieve self-insight and personal-growth actually get it. 

 

Here’s an “Emotional Do & Don’t List” to help get you started:

Do…..

  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable with people you trust
  • Fully experience every emotion
  • Be open and accepting of the range of your emotions
  • Be curious rather than judgmental about your emotions
  • Use people to comfort you when you feel down, instead of focusing on food
  • Let your emotions come and go as they please without fear or worry
  • Hang out with people who nourish your soul and are emotionally mature
  • Use your feelings along with your judgment to help you reach your goals

Don’t…..

  • Pretend not to feel anything when you do
  • Ignore or minimize painful feelings
  • Believe that anyone knows your emotions better than you do
  • Let people shame or tease you for having or expressing emotions
  • Avoid feelings because they make you uncomfortable
  • Be so concerned about hurting other people’s feelings
  • Focus on food or alcohol/substances when you’re experiencing a difficult emotion 
  • Dwell on your feelings after they’ve given you the information you need to make necessary changes in your life.

Understanding the Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

By Rebecca Capps | Eating Disorder

Understanding The Signs & Symptoms Of Eating Disorders | Mind Body Holistic Counseling | Santa Barbara, CA 93101Eating disorders are a serious matter that affects millions of people, especially women. They also have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. It’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible because when untreated, an eating disorder can result in a destructive and potentially lethal cycle. You may know someone who suffers from an eating disorder, but they try to hide or deny it whenever confronted. It can feel emotionally draining, as well as challenging to know when a person’s thoughts and behaviors associated with dieting has become dangerous. In order to know how to respond best, it is useful to understand the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder. Below I have outlined the most common signs and symptoms associated with eating disorders.

What are the Typical Symptoms of an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorder symptoms include a drastic change in normal eating patterns, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a disturbance in how one experiences their body weight or shape. Different types of eating disorders exist, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Their characteristics, as explained by Healthline, include:

  • Anorexia is a psychological disease that is characterized by a distortion of body image and an obsessive fear of weight gain.
  • Bulimia symptoms include compulsive eating followed by deliberate purging, the use of laxatives or excessive exercise to prevent weight gain.
  • Binge eating, which resembles bulimia, is characterized by eating excessive amounts of food at one time until one is physically uncomfortable. Binge eating differs from bulimia in that there is an absence of purging.

What are Common Warning Signs of Anorexia?

If the person:

  • Is thin and continues losing 15% or more of her ideal body weight.
  • Continues to diet and restrict foods.
  • Has a distorted body image and feels fat, even when she is underweight.
  • Denies hunger.
  • Complains about feeling sick or bloated, despite eating a less than average amount of food.
  • Steps on the scale frequently.
  • Obsessively exercises.
  • Loss of menstruation.
  • Loss of hair or thinning of hair.
  • Feels cold, despite a normal temperature.

What are Common Warning Signs of Bulimia?

If the person:

  • Goes to the bathroom frequently after meals.
  • Overeats as a reaction to stress and negative emotions.
  • Unable to voluntarily stop eating.
  • Has swollen glands.
  • Experiences menstrual irregularities. 
  • Fluctuates in weight.
  • Obsesses overweight.
  • Feels out of control, shamed, or guilty about eating.
  • Tries to diet, but generally does not succeed in efforts.
  • Has up and down mood swings.

What are Common Warning Signs of Binge Eating Disorder?

If the person:

  • Eats copious amounts of food, even when not physically hungry.
  • Eats faster than normal.
  • Eats until being uncomfortably full.
  • Often eats in isolation due to shame or embarrassment.
  • Has a history of marked weight fluctuations.
  • Feels depressed, guilty or ashamed after eating.

How sufferers, their loved ones, and culture at large view eating disorders sets the tone for treatment and recovery. Eating disorders cut across race, color, gender, and socioeconomic groups. Nobody is immune. Moreover, even though there are common elements tied to the experience of an eating disorder, each person’s journey and their recovery is unique. Recovery isn’t an easy or short-term endeavor either. However, recovering from an eating disorder can also turn out to be one of the greatest triumphs of a person’s life. True recovery means no longer compromising one’s health, or using eating disorder behaviors to cope with or distract from problems.

Nature vs. Nurture; 7 Facts About Eating Disorders

By Rebecca Capps | Eating Disorder

Eating Disorder Recovery | Mind Body Holistic Counseling | Santa Barbara, CA 93101In today’s world, it is a miracle for a woman not to develop disordered beliefs about eating and body-image. We live in a diet culture and have internalized a host of food rules, which for some, can devolve into an eating disorder. Over 30 million people suffer from an eating disorder, which to this day, has the highest mortality rate compared to all other mental health conditions. It can be difficult knowing when issues with eating can turn into a full-blown eating disorder. As a therapist who specializes in treating eating disorders, part of my job involves teaching clients and their families about facts associated with the various risks involved.

Evidence points to a wide array of biopsychosocial risk factors involved with disordered eating, including genetics, trauma, maladaptive coping mechanisms, culture, and self-esteem issues. Thus, it is essential to consider both biological and environmental factors when assessing the causes of an eating disorder. As top eating disorder researcher and physician, Dr. Cynthia Bulnik, asserts; “Genetics loads the gun, [but] environment pulls the trigger.” While families do not directly cause an eating disorder, chaotic and stressful family dynamics can trigger its development in an already susceptible family member. Additionally, beliefs about eating and body-image are often learned through one’s family system and passed down generationally. It can be challenging to understand what factors cause an eating disorder, as it’s such a complex and multifaceted issue. Continue reading if you wish to learn more about the common risk factors tied to the development of an eating disorder.

1. Low Self-Esteem

Women who suffer from an eating disorder tend to have a harsh internal critic that cause them to believe they are not worthy of love. Dieting turns into a place of refuge for the anorexic, providing her with a means to cope with overwhelming emotions. She suffers from feelings of self-doubt, sadness, and a fear of intimacy. If this sounds like you, then, it’s essential to analyze the underlying issues that caused you to doubt yourself and to feel unworthy in the first place. If you find yourself getting stuck or unable to cultivate more self-compassion, therapy can serve as a great way to expedite this process and learn new tools that will enable you to increase your self-confidence.

2.Desire To Fill A Void

A disordered relationship with food tends to correlate with the desire to fill a void in one’s life, as the rituals associated with the disorder provides the sufferer with temporary relief from her emptiness. An eating disorder is a subconscious attempt to address a deficiency of ego or to fill a void created by self-imposed feelings of inadequacy or shortcomings.

3. An Attempt to Distract

Worrying about weight enables the sufferer to distract herself from thinking about her feelings. Her emotions about the question of “Am I good enough?” instead translates to, “Am I skinny enough?” Sufferers are often unable to express their painful emotions, and it can be hard for them to deal with conflict, so they use restricting, binging, or purging as a means to shut down or to deny their feelings altogether. Humans are meant to feel though and mustn’t ignore the wisdom of what the body is attempting to communicate. For example, women need to explore their anger that they’ve been misdirecting towards their bodies that rightly belongs to a culture of patriarchy, the Harvey Weinsteins of the world, the bullies who’ve shamed them, and a capitalistic diet industry.

4. The Belief In A Lie

Cultural norms place considerable emphasis on the value of a woman’s external appearance and focus less on her inner strengths. To suffer from an eating disorder means to believe in the lie that society has fed you, saying that you “must be thin to be happy.” Ultimately, cultivating a positive relationship with yourself means learning how to honor the wisdom of your body. It means embracing both your strengths and your weaknesses, and not fighting against who you are. Being gentle and forgiving of yourself is an essential facet of establishing an intuitive relationship with your body.

5. Sufferers Are Often Perfectionistic and Achievement-Based

Perfectionism is a significant factor that controls a person who is suffering from an eating disorder. It’s undeniable that women have enormous pressure to achieve and work harder than ever before, women who are perfectionistic believe they have the willpower to do what others do not. As a result, this can lead to black-and-white thinking—causing the sufferer to feel that she is either fat or thin—no in-between.

6. Need For Control

Ultimately, an eating disorder is about control. The anorexic denies her needs to feel ‘virtuous’ or ‘in control,’ as if her needs is something to control. These beliefs are typically learned through her family-of-origin and run deep into their family history. Alternatively, perhaps there’s been a trauma that left her feeling out-of-control and not in-charge of her decisions in life. Ironically though, in doing this, she allows the very thing she wants to control, control her.

7. Lack Effective In Coping Skills

Those who suffer from an eating disorder are often lacking the skills to tolerate negative experiences. Restricting, binging, and purging are behaviors that developed in response to emotional turmoil, a chaotic upbringing, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, stress, or trauma. In the absence of healthier coping skills, eating disordered behaviors tend to provide sharp relief from distress, but then quickly turns to greater physiological and psychological harm. What most eating disorder sufferers fail to recognize is that the very act of trying to avoid internal distress is what keeps them trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle. Repeatedly running away from difficult thoughts and emotions, whether by purging, not eating, drinking alcohol, or any other “fix,” only creates more problems by creating a dependency on avoidance behaviors and teaching nothing about coping with the inevitable challenges in life.

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