How to Face Down Your Triggers in Eating Disorder Recovery

April 18, 2018 Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

Do triggers in eating disorder recovery make it hard to keep a recovery mindset? Facing down eating disorder triggers is a non-negotiable part of recovery. Visit HealthyPlace and learn to fight back against the triggers making eating disorder recovery difficult.

Learning to face down your triggers in eating disorder recovery is non-negotiable. A trigger is any form of content, behavior, topic or event which exacerbates a trauma or mental illness, and today's culture is saturated with them. In a society that endorses the harmful message of ideal bodies, clean diets and extreme fitness, the pressure to cave into those triggering beliefs is enormous—and if you're susceptible to an eating disorder, that urge can feel overwhelming. Triggers in eating disorder recovery are ingrained in the broken systems of this world, so triggers can't be avoided entirely. So while it's unrealistic to pretend they don't exist, there are coping methods you can utilize to navigate triggering situations with a healthy mindset that won't risk your progress in recovery.

What Are Your Triggers in Eating Disorder Recovery?

If your goal is to face down whatever triggers you in eating disorder recovery, then first you need to be conscious of what those triggers are. The more attuned you become to your triggers, the more equipped you'll be to respond with rational and healthy choices.

This mindful awareness weakens the temptation to react impulsively based on emotions and helps you recognize what causes the eating disorder voice to amplify. Being curious about what triggers are makes it easier to tease apart why the triggers affect you. Once that connection has been established, you'll start noticing the difference between thoughts, feelings and actions ruled by the eating disorder or fueled by recovery.

Communicate Your Needs When Triggered in ED Recovery

When an eating disorder controls your life, it's common to feel that your needs aren't important and worth asserting. But a crucial aspect of recovery is taking back this silenced voice and using it to communicate when you need external support to withstand the eating disorder triggers.

Find a trusted counselor, friend or relative and express that you're feeling vulnerable. Give them permission to ask tough questions like:

  • "What is triggering you right now?"
  • "Why does it provoke the eating disorder?"
  • "Which emotions are attached to that trigger?"
  • "Which negative thought patterns are resulting?"
  • "What behaviors do you want to engage in?"

Then answer candidly and unguardedly, as discussing triggers in eating disorder recovery out loud diffuses their power to influence you.

Find a Self-Care Activity to Neutralize the Eating Disorder Trigger

You won't be successful at facing down triggers in eating disorder recovery if you refuse to extend yourself kindness and compassion. Instead of fixating on how you allowed the eating disorder to mess with your head again, redirect all that negative energy toward a more positive solution. Engage in a calming, nurturing activity to take your mind off the unhealthy thoughts and coercive eating disorder triggers.

Practice meditation, write in a journal, read an uplifting book, create artwork, relax in the bathtub or listen to your favorite song. This is called initiating a self-care ritual, and it teaches you to focus inward on the healing work of recovery, rather than being consumed with outside triggers.

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2018, April 18). How to Face Down Your Triggers in Eating Disorder Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

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