Changing habits can be hard when it comes to food and body image.
Today, our Dietitian, Rebecca Stetzer, is going to give you some tips and strategies to help you make what seems like impossible changes, but ones that can help you develop the habits that lead to lasting change.
Change is hard. Whether it be changing your habits, your behaviors, your thought patterns, or the way you respond when stressors arise, change is uncomfortable and at times may seem impossible.
I frequently hear from my clients things like, “But I’ve been emotionally eating since I was a kid, how can I change that now?”, or “I’ve had my eating disorder for so long, it’s scary to imagine what it’s like to eat in any other way.”
It makes sense why you may find doubts and fears arise when you’re embarking on a journey to improving your relationship with food and caring for your body. And it is absolutely possible!
Thanks to neuroplasticity, you can rewire your brain to function in some way that is different from how it previously functioned.
Neuroplasticity is how nerve cells in your brain adapt to circumstances and information by creating new connections and weakening other connections.
The brain is a dynamic organ; it can be wired and rewired throughout your lifetime!
Let me paint a picture for you:
Imagine you’re visiting a state or national park with various hiking trails. The park provides maps and signs showing where the trails begin, end, and connect with one another. But even without a map, you can clearly see where the trail is; the trail is the well-worn path made of dirt and rocks, and you can easily differentiate from the thick foliage surrounding it.
That’s because this path has been tread over and over again; it’s safe, it’s familiar, and you know it won’t lead you into danger.
When a person is deep within an eating disorder, or even engaging in some disordered eating, they can get stuck in these ruts or paths of unhealthy thinking, feeling, and behaving.
It’s like that hiking trail; it’s familiar, it feels safe, and there isn’t always the sense that that path could lead you into danger.
At some point you may recognize that the path, however well-traveled it may be, isn’t helping you anymore.
It may be leading to health conditions, troubles with relationships, more body dissatisfaction rather than less, distraction from the important things in life, and worsening mental health.
When you seek the help of a therapist and a registered dietitian you are embarking on a task of blazing a new trail through those woods.
While it can be scary, unpredictable, uncomfortable (hello, poison ivy!), you have the support of your guide – your mental health professionals, your friends, family, etc.
While the urge to return to the seemingly safety and familiarity of the old path is strong, you can persevere.
And while it may seem impossible for that roughly blazed trip through the woods to eventually become a new well-worn – and this time, helpful and healthy – trail, it is absolutely possible thanks to your brain’s ability to learn new things and make new connections.
Thanks to neuroplasticity, you CAN recover, and you CAN have a better relationship with food and your body, at ANY point in your life!
I know this is a big word, neuroplasticity, but the lesson you want to learn here is not how to say this big word or understand what it means… but to know that it is possible to rewire your brain so that you can change your habits, your behaviors, and your thought patterns.
You can change the way you respond when those eating disorder stressors arise. It’s a matter of learning how to rewire your brain and how you manage those challenges.
As I mentioned before, change is uncomfortable and, at times, may seem impossible but that is why so many folks partner with a registered dietitian or therapist.
If you are ready to blaze new trails and make the changes that will support you and your recovery, please reach out to us and get the help you need.
You can book a call with Erica to discuss your situation and see if one of our dietitians – who specialize in eating disorders and recovery, can help you on that path to changing your thoughts and behaviors around food and body image.
How do you know if you are eating emotionally?
The best start is by taking this quiz and then learning if you are an emotional eater.
Your quiz results will give you some understanding of the WHY behind your eating habits and what your next best step is to make peace with food.
Rebecca is one of the team of Dietitians at Erica Leon Nutrition. She specializes in weight-inclusive nutrition therapy counseling for a variety of health conditions, but primarily eating disorders and disordered eating/body image concerns, gastrointestinal disorders, family and child feeding concerns, and cardiovascular conditions. Learn more about Rebeccca.