Castlewood Eating Disorder Treatment Center Blog

Anorexia Nervosa: The Impact of Mind over Body

Anorexia Nervosa is loosely defined as the relentless pursuit of thinness. Sufferers are unable to maintain a healthy body weight for their height and age, have distorted ideas about their body and are terrified of weight gain. Serious risks to their health stem from the lack of proper nutrition. One’s mind, body and spirit are interconnected and modern science is finally able to demonstrate how powerful these associations can be. In his book Hardwiring Happiness, Rick Hanson, Ph.D., describes how the human brain’s automatic reflex can be altered from habits of negativity (including stress and fear) and replaced with positive thoughts, experiences and emotions. This process can help patients with eating disorders use their mind to exert control over their body. Powerful positive self-talk is one way anyone suffering from bulimia, anorexia or binge eating can strengthen their recovery. This should be used along with, not as a replacement for, health and nutrition programs outlined for them by treatment professionals. Practices that worked during residential care should be added to the daily routine. Following the same meal plan is important. Another good habit that helps prevent relapse includes “sticking with winners.” That is, spend the most time with people who will be positive and supportive of the new healthy nutrition plan. When people become aware of making negative statements, they can stop and refocus their thoughts on something they like about themselves instead, or any pleasant thought at all even if it seems silly at the beginning. Everyone has a constant stream of thoughts running in their heads all the time. Some of these thoughts come from actual facts; others may be created from lack of information. Allowing negative talk to run on and on is self-defeating and damaging to your health. The important thing to remember is to focus on positive thoughts. It’s all about creating healthy new habits. A helpful suggestion is this: when that negative self-talk starts commanding attention, try replacing it with a positive one. Developing any new habit requires a lot of repetition and perseverance. Here are a few ways to turn negative thinking into positive thinking when recovering from an eating disorder: Instead of saying: I can’t because I didn’t see my therapist this week. Say: I’ll see my therapist next week and today I can ask for support from one of the anorexia support group members. Instead of saying: I'm too lazy to follow this food plan. Say: I wasn't able to follow the food plan tonight but in the morning I’ll make a fresh start. Remember, this is brain science. Use it to reinforce valuable and positive thoughts to maintain health and continued recovery. Keep the conversation going by commenting here, and then sharing your personal affirmations on Instagram using hashtag #WhatIsRecovery. Your affirmation may be what someone else is seeking as a guide in their own recovery!