Life After Eating Disorder Treatment Part 3: Complimentary Therapies Part 1


Dear Readers,

Please find part 111 of life after Eating Disorder Treatment. People often speak of feeling that they have lost control of their life when they have ED. It may be bewildering to spend time in ED units, which can seem frightening and impersonal, and to meet so many different health professionals. At the same time, it can be difficult to cope with the implications of the illness itself.

Many people use complimentary therapies to help support themselves through ED and its treatment, but I think it’s equally important that we continue with these therapies after we’ve been given clear by the treatment team. They really help you to develop in prowess, strength and in mind. Please do bear in mind that after the recovery comes a hard challenge of getting on with life again.  We will experience stress, anxiety and other emotions. Our nervous system has two operating systems — the “fight-or-flight”. Your body is beautifully equipped with natural self-repair mechanisms that are under the influence of thoughts, feelings and beliefs that originate in your mind. Only when your nervous system is in a relaxation response do your body’s self-repair mechanisms function and you get on with life and can overcome challenge and illnesses.

Complimentary therapists usually work with the person as a whole, not just one aspect of the ED itself. This is called a holistic approach and is something good medical practitioners also do. A complimentary therapist who listens and cares may help you cope with some of those difficult feelings, which can be an effective way of getting back some control.

Some ED inpatient and outpatient units and organizations provide complimentary therapies as part of treatment program.

Complimentary therapies can:

Help you feel better and improve your quality of life.

Improve your general health

Give you a sense of control over what is happening to you.

Reduce, stress, tension, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression and make you feel more relaxed.

Help to reduce the symptoms of ED behaviors, such as binging purging, compulsive exercising, feeling sick, breathlessness, constipation, diarrhea, tiredness and poor appetite.


Choosing a Therapy and Therapist

It is important to choose a therapy that feels right for you. It is also important that you trust and feel comfortable with the therapist. Some people find it helpful to use a combination of therapies. After leaving the treatment centre, I tried many different therapies, till I found what was right for me.


There are some organizations that offer free complimentary therapies. Please check your local listing or your local community centre listing or ask your doctor. It is a good idea to ask how much a therapy session will cost you before you book, and to get some idea of how often you may need to have the therapy. Some complimentary therapies can be very expensive if used over a long period of time.


If you are suffering from an Eating Disorder, Please do bear in mind that complimentary therapies can only work in conjunction with overall ED program. Complimentary Therapy on its own cannot cure you from your illness. Please talk to your Doctor for advice and support.


Types of Complimentary Therapies

Mind Therapies

Relaxation Therapy

 Reduces anxiety, stress and helps aid digestion.

Simple breathing and relaxation exercises are very useful in reducing anxiety and stress and reducing the harmful effects of stress on the body. Almost everyone can learn the techniques. They can quickly reduce anxiety and muscle tension and also affect he part of the nervous system that controls blood pressure and the digestive system.

You can use Relaxation with Meditation and Visualisation Exercise. The combination is brilliant and something I used quiet often.

I know it can be difficult to do self-help exercises by yourself at home, these exercises need motivation and constant practice to see the benefits, it may be easier to stay motivated by joining a group online or a local group.

Here is a simple Relaxation Exercises that I really enjoy and I combined it with Turkish Sufi Instrumental Music.

Exercise 1 – Duration 10-15 minutes

Find a quiet room where you will be undisturbed for about 10-15 minutes.

Undo any tight clothing, and take off your shoes, then lie down on the bed or floor. Spend a few moments settling yourself down. Close your eyes, spread your feet 12-18 inches apart and check that your head, neck and spine are in a straight line.

Now focus your attention on your breathing. Do not try to change your breathing for the moment. Become aware of how quickly or slowly you are breathing. Notice whether there are any gaps or pauses between your breathing in and breathing out.


Now put one hand on your upper chest and one hand on your abdomen (tummy) just below your rib-cage. Relax your shoulders and hands. As you breathe in, feel your abdomen expand. As you breathe out, allow your abdomen to flatten. There should be little or no movement in your chest. Allow yourself a little time to get into a regular rhythm.


It may help to imagine that you are breathing in, you draw half a circle with your breath and as you breathe out, you complete the second half of the circle.


Allow your breath to become smooth, easy and regular.


Now consciously slow down your breathing out and allow your breathing in to follow smoothly and easily.


Smooth out any gaps or pauses in your breathing.


If any distractions, thoughts or worries come into your mind, allow them to come, then allow them to go and bring your attention back to your breathing.


When you are ready to end this exercise, take a fewer deep breaths in. Move your fingers and toes gently. I always listen to this music. It’s Turkish Instrumental and it really sets the  mood for relaxation.



This is excellent, brilliant and simple to practice.  Do give it a try. Download your copy free here.

Relaxation Techniques to Relieve Stress

Relaxation Booklet by NHS from First Steps. This book is a complete guide to self-relaxation with worksheets and tips.

Relaxation Booklet


Relaxation Exercise 2- A Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercise. Try this when you feel under pressure and can’t seem to relax. It really works magic on your muscles and releases tension from overall body.


Visualisation (Mental Imagery)

Just finding a courage to Imagine what Recovery Might Feel Like, Beautiful, Strong, Healthy, Powerful with a Sharp Mind…….

This is a technique that involves creating images in your mind while you are in a state of relaxation or meditation. For example:

You might imagine that you are lying in a field full of beautiful flowers.

That you are healthy and strong.

That your healthy self is Knight fighting the bad ED self.

Or that the sun rays are shining on you, warming you and giving you strength.


The theory is that by imagining a peaceful scene you will encourage yourself to feel more relaxed, and by imagining yourself healthy free from the shackles of the demon of ED you can influence the health of your body, mind, heart and spirit.

A simple exercise to show how imagination can produce physical changes is to picture a lemon being cut in front of you. Most people who do this will notice that they start to produce more saliva.

Your therapist will do some guided visualizations (a type of mediation) with you and this has proven to be very effective in helping people to recover from binge eating and bulimia.

Visualization or guided imagery can can reduce the negative thoughts of ED and the side effect of going through treatment/weight gain program. Many people report that visualizing themselves as healthy helps them to feel better, and they regard it as a form of extended relaxation. Gentle mental imagery can produce significant improvements in the mood of people suffering from ED.

My Experience with Visualization Therapy

After leaving the treatment centre, I used to get very depressed about the state of affairs. My boss Dottie taught me this exercise. Every time, I wanted to retreat into ED land, I would imagine my upcoming trip to Jerusalem, and I knew that I had to be in good health to travel to Jordan and then cross over to Israel. I would picture myself walking towards Al Aqsa in Good Health and Good Spirit. It worked and finally in the summer of 2013, I was in Jerusalem.

Dreams do Come True

Dreams do Come True

I love this video on I Am Health – Positive Affirmation. Watch this Video and this reaffirms your belief in Healthy You.

Guided Imagery- Ocean Waves



Hypnosis is another method which some people find helpful in dealing with he symptoms of ED. It can be very useful in putting a stop to some of the ED behaviors, such as binging purging, over exercising and addiction to laxatives and diet pills. There’s a famous case of Mellissa Laycy, 24, who battled with anorexia and bulimia her whole life until hypnotherapy cured her. To read her story, click here: Hypnosis Cured my Eating Disorder.

Ive not tried this therapy, though I wanted to. Hypnotism can be used to help with many problems, such as aiding recovery from anorexia nervosa, controlling binge eating and bulimia, and building self esteem and confidence.

For more Information on Hypnotherapy and to Download Information, worksheets and for a list of Hypnotherapists, Please visit this link.

Hypnotherapy Index


Art Therapy


I tried this therapy in Summer Holidays and I am a bad Artist, but it was amazing and so much fun. This therapy is used to help people to express themselves through working with art materials. The art therapist is usually a psychotherapist and encourages the person to communicate feelings such as fear or anger through painting, drawing or sculpting. The aim is to express feelings rather than produce a work of art. The therapy can be given one-to-one with therapist or in groups. Through creativity we can sometimes become aware of and release pent up feelings. These feelings or emotions can then be discussed if appropriate, in counseling or group sessions.

You do not need to be able to paint well and you will be encouraged to be spontaneous and doodle. Sometimes the therapist may be more directive and ask you to ‘paint your ED’ or try to capture your relationship with your family. These exercises can help you understand yourself more fully. Art therapy can also be fun and a creative approach to dealing with unhappy and distressing experiences.

Watch this short Documentary on Eating Disorders and Art Therapy. This video busts many myths and really gives you a hope  and tells you recovery is possible. Amazing Documentary…..


You can get more Information about art therapy and finding a trained therapist from the British Art Association of Art Therapists,  Click Here.


In part two of Mind Therapies, I will talk about some more Mind Therapies for ED.  Thank you for Reading!



About Author

Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.

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