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Coping Skills for Eating Disorder Recovery

If you are like me, then you might have asked yourself the question: "What are some eating disorder recovery podcasts worth tuning into?" I am a major advocate of professional counseling—in fact, I see my therapist once a week—but I also endorse other supportive resources outside a counselor's office too. The hour I spend in therapy each week is sacred and beneficial to me as a person in recovery for both anorexia and trauma-related issues, but when I'm not directly across from my therapist, the intervention I reach for most often is my arsenal of podcasts. So in this article, I want to break down the eating disorder recovery podcasts that I consider worth tuning into as therapeutic adjuncts—to reinforce not replace clinical treatment—and why I find them useful in my own healing process.  
Loving yourself through an eating disorder relapse is important because, if you have experience with an eating disorder, then you know firsthand that the recovery process is not a linear route. Instead, it's full of detours and obstacles, forward motions and backward stumbles. Sometimes there are victories, but other times, a relapse can occur—and when it almost inevitably does, the question then becomes: How do you love yourself through that eating disorder relapse?
New Year's resolutions for eating disorder recovery can often feel like undue pressure to reach arbitrary benchmarks or perform to certain standards and expectations. But in some cases, New Year's resolutions can actually help with eating disorder recovery—if you are intentional and realistic about them.
The holiday season is one of the most ubiquitous times for traveling, but if you deal with a history of disordered eating, it can be difficult to maintain eating disorder (ED) recovery during holiday travels. Whether you visit long-distance family members or vacation on a ski slope with friends, this departure from a typical structured routine will often cause anxiety-induced triggers to surface. If you plan to be away from the familiar comforts and securities of home this season, here are some coping mechanisms you can practice in order to maintain ED recovery during holiday travels. 
The prevalence of food shaming rituals around the holiday season presents an absurd contradiction. This time of year is undeniably food-centric, and there are both positive and negative implications for that. I will first address the positives—a shared meal is enriching, communal, intimate, and nostalgic. The experience is social, the atmosphere is filled with connection, and the memories created at the table become cherished family traditions. But in many cases, eating seasonal foods like mashed potatoes, biscuits, turkey, and stuffing can punctuate the mealtime with guilt, remorse, or insecurity. And that's when food shaming comments or behaviors materialize. This ritual is often distressing for people who face issues with body image and disordered eating, so I want to examine why food shaming intensifies around the holiday season and how to mitigate its adverse effects.
Have you considered practicing mindfulness after a meal? In eating disorder recovery, mindfulness is a coping skill that's generally considered useful during a meal, but practicing mindfulness after a meal can be just as effective. Regardless of what stage you're at in the recovery process, there are still many complex emotions which can tend to surface after consuming a meal, and when they do make an appearance, it's important to equip yourself with a game plan to address those feelings constructively. This is where practicing mindfulness after a meal may help you.
The fear of weight restoration is one of the most frightening and challenging mental blocks to conquer in eating disorder (ED) recovery. When you are malnourished from starvation or binging and purging, the first step toward physical healing is to stabilize your weight in a healthier range. This can also be the scariest part of the whole eating disorder recovery process because gaining weight means surrendering that intense and desperate need for control. It means rejecting the illusion that being the "skinniest person in a room" equals success, worth or beauty. It means being forced to accept that you're more than a body, and you are lovable no matter what the scale reads. Without the buffer of weight manipulation to cower behind, you feel exposed in a way that is often uncomfortable and unfamiliar. But shedding this layer of defense is not just a life-saver—it's a turning point to freedom. Here are some practical interventions for conquering the fear of weight restoration in ED recovery.    
Your eating disorder has its own personality. In fact, if you have spent any length of time under the possessive, domineering influence of an eating disorder, you know the illness can turn you into a different person altogether. You have probably felt the sensation of watching your actions as though from a distance, ashamed at the erratic behavior, yet helpless to regain control. You have likely experienced the reckless thoughts and wild emotions that breed impulsive choices and abrupt reactions. You can detect when the eating disorder hijacks your brain and all of a sudden, you are operating from a place of anxiety and fear. You are no longer, well, you. Your eating disorder personality has taken over.
When it comes to succeeding in eating disorder recovery, one stubborn misconception needs to be discredited—the good food versus bad food debate. Mainstream culture has propagated the idea of attaching morality to certain food groups by idealizing some and demonizing others. But this paradigm is nothing more than a fabricated social construct with destructive implications. When a food is labeled either "good" or "bad," it suggests the person who consumes that food must take on a similar virtue. But the reality is, character is not based on someone's diet. Integrity cannot be measured by asking the question, "Did you eat a salad or cheeseburger for lunch?" What you eat doesn't define you. Foods should not be forced into categories any more than humans should. In order to prioritize eating disorder recovery, it's time to stop the good food versus bad food debate.
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.
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