By Megan Samuels, MSW, LMSW, Outreach Coordinator
Those pesky eating disorder urges can often come at times when we are busy and need to focus on other tasks (for example being at school or at work). It can be nice to have some coping skills in your back pocket for when these urges arise. If you are able to, practice these coping skills before the urges come up and you are needing to use them. This way, you are able to build adaptive neural networks in your brain for those coping skills. Meaning, when you need them, they will be easier for your brain to retrieve (similar to the concept of “muscle-memory”).
But first - what’s an eating disorder urge?
An urge is a strong desire to do something, so an eating disorder urge is a strong desire or impulse to engage in eating disorder behaviors (such as binge eating, restricting, purging, body checking, etc.) An eating disorder urge is often associated with a feeling or a thought. For example, someone might have the thought, "I don’t like the way that I look.” That thought may contribute to an urge to restrict food intake.
Below is a description of four coping skills that can be helpful. Not all skills for work everyone, so I invite you to try them out and see which one helps to decrease the intensity or the eating disorder urges. Remember that it likely won’t work on the first try - these skills need to be repeated so our brain can access them more easily when we need them!
Coping Skill - Container
Coping Skill - Deep Breathing
Coping Skill - Distraction
Coping Skill - 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Grounding Exercise
If you have a therapist or coach on your team, I invite you to practice these coping skills with them in session so you have space to process these skills and tweak them (if needed) to better fit your recovery goals.
Schedule a free 15 min consult for eating disorder therapy in MD, VA, DC, NY, FL, or recovery coaching worldwide.
The Eating Disorder Center is a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center founded by Jennifer Rollin. We specialize in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, OSFED, and body image issues. We provide eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Silver Spring, Germantown, and Washington D.C. We also provide eating disorder therapy in Arlington, Virginia and virtually throughout Virginia. Additionally, we offer eating disorder therapy virtually in New York (NYC), Florida, and California. We provide eating disorder recovery coaching via Zoom to people worldwide. Connect with us through our website at www.theeatingdisordercenter.com
The Eating Disorder Center
We are a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center in Rockville, Maryland.