If you are recovering from an eating disorder, you might have some harmful ideas about how your body looks. Regardless of your weight, you might feel as though your body has too much excess fat or is generally too large. You also might feel as though you don't have enough muscle, a symptom of eating disorders more common in men. This can really harm your recovery efforts because your eating disorder is causing you to take actions that are going to push your body towards how you want it to look, but also do serious damage to it. You might struggle with gaining weight due to the fact that you think that gaining weight will make you unlovable or worthless. Here are some tips to get through your body image problems so that your recovery can be as successful as possible.
1. Exposure Therapy
If you are the type of person that is so ashamed of your body that you refuse to show it to the world, hiding it under bulky sweaters and loose jeans, then you might want to talk to your therapist about exposure therapy. This is a type of therapy where you are exposed to something that you fear a little bit at a time in a supportive environment. At the end, you are no longer afraid and can tolerate whatever you were once afraid of. Your negative beliefs about your body are likely self-reinforcing, meaning that the more you hide your body, the worse you feel about it and the more that you feel you need to hide it.
Your therapist might be able to develop challenges for you, such as wearing a bathing suit in your bedroom and taking a picture, wearing a bathing suit on an empty beach, and then wearing a bathing suit on a full beach. This will force you to face your fears and show your body to the world. When you see that people actually do not recoil in horror, you might be more likely to continue behaving normally in the future.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Another option is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. This type of therapy allows you to challenge negative thoughts that you might have about yourself or your environment. It could involve you having thoughts and then actively writing down a counter thought or saying that counter thought out loud. An example would be "I am worthless if I am fat." Counter thoughts could be "I have worth because I volunteer and people appreciate that," "I have people who will love and care about me even if I am fat," or "My worth is not tied to my appearance."
For additional info, talk to a company that specializes in eating disorder treatment.