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Five Tips to Help You Learn Self Love While Trying to Recover

Many people who struggle with an eating disorder have body image issues and low self-esteem. Finding a way to battle your negative thoughts can be difficult, but there are things you can do every day to help yourself grow more comfortable with your body.

Self-Esteem and Eating Disorders

Angela Celio Doyle, a clinical associate in the eating disorders program at the University of Chicago, says that our society “[perpetuates] the thin ideal, that being slender is beautiful and will bring you happiness.” However, Doyle is also quick to point out that this ideal clashes with the unmoderated food consumption brought on by our fast food culture. People with low self-esteem are plagued constantly by negative thoughts that fuel their eating disorders. Doyle, like many other professionals in her field, has her patients keep a record of when they are feeling negative about their body and encourages them to counter these thoughts. If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are looking for a way to fight off your self critic, here are some suggestions of what you can do when these negative thoughts attack you during the day.

How to Love Yourself

  1. Fall in love with yourself and eliminate self-criticism. Try to embrace that which makes you unique and fall in love with it. Look for all of the good that you see in yourself, and accept your flaws and the fact that you are imperfect. Be gentle and kind to yourself despite your “flaws,” and try to ignore that voice inside your head that sees your “flaws” as short-comings. Every time you want to criticize yourself, come back with a compliment to counter a criticism.
  2. Acknowledge your efforts and stay positive. Think kindly and positively about your body and your personality. Make it a habit to praise yourself every morning when you are in front of the mirror. Remind yourself that you are not in a competition and that it is not always about winning or coming up on top. Everyone has a different shape and size, so don't compare yourself to anyone else.
  3. Let go of your worries and trust in yourself. Many people struggling with an eating disorder constantly battle the worry of eating too much or gaining weight. If you are in recovery, listen to your body's signals; your body will tell you when it is full and when it is hungry. Trust your body and what it tells you! Don't be afraid to ask for help and support. Sometimes you will need help to let go of your worries; ask a friend to help you out during your recovery. Have confidence that you can overcome your eating disorder.
  4. Be honest with yourself and learn to forgive yourself. If you feel like you've fallen off your recovery path, don't be hard on yourself or look for ways to punish your body. Instead try to be honest about the reasons why you relapsed, accept your feelings, and do not try to lie to yourself or to bury your negative emotions. Acknowledging what you feel provides a guide to what your thoughts are. Try to write down your thoughts and look for patterns so that you can be better equipped to fight off these thoughts.
  5. Express gratitude and learn to see beauty. Be thankful for who you are and for the strengths and gifts that you have cultivated. Be thankful for the little things and learn to see beauty in everything. When you learn to see beauty in everything that surrounds you, you will learn to see beauty in yourself. Stop to smell the flowers and learn to notice and feel everything. By doing this, you will learn to appreciate life and that there are many different types of beauty.
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