“Urge911: What to do When Eating Disorder Urges are Strong”

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When you have an urge to use a behavior, physical and emotional sensations are happening in your brain and body. These sensations are strong and uncomfortable. It seems the only way to feel normal again is to engage in that behavior. Unfortunately, the more you think about and practice a behavior, the more it gets wired into your brain.

The great news is that there is something you can do right now to change your brain and what you believe about yourself and your behaviors. Each of the steps in this process is designed to increase your awareness, stabilize your behaviors, rewire the neuropathways in your brain and give you hope for recovery.

Dear Readers,

I am so pleased to bring to you this post. Post Ramadan the numbers of emails on binge eating have increased. It’s been a very hard time for many sufferers.  Post Ramadan is a time when many people need help with their urges to  use ED behaviours. Join Travis Stewart, MA, LPC in a Facebook Live Discussion as he walks through the steps of our Urge911 Card. Travis Stewart is incredible. His Urge911 Card are fabulous. I swear once you put these steps into practice you’ll see the results.

travis stewart

 

 

Urge911: What to do When Eating Disorder Urges are Strong”

 

 

We understand when you have an urge to use a behavior, it feels like there is a war inside and like you want to do something that another part of you may not want to do.

The following steps will help you make different choices, rewire the brain and move forward in recovery.

 

 

Urges to use eating disorder behaviors are a combination of cognitive, physical and emotional sensations which can feel strong, confusing and overwhelming. The following steps will help you make different choices, rewire the brain and move forward in recovery.

 

STEP ONE: NAME IT

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State precisely what it is you are experiencing.

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Say out loud: “I’m aware that I’m having the thought…”

That I need to lose weight

That I must exercise

That I shouldn’t eat

That it would feel good to binge

 

Say out loud: “I’m aware that I’m having the sensation of …”

Shoulder tension

A pit in my stomach

Tightness in my jaw, neck…

Racing thoughts

Fidgeting

An adrenaline rush

 

Say out loud: “I’m aware that I’m having the sensation of…”

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Sadness

Depression

Emptiness

Despair

Loneliness

Anger

Irritation

Frustration

Impatience

Fear

Anxiety

Concern

Anticipation

Panic

Tension

Confusion

Guilt

Shame

Boredom

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 STEP TWO: FRAME IT

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These strong sensations signify that your brain and body are responding to triggers in your environment and beliefs about yourself.

Remind yourself, “Just because I’m having these sensations doesn’t mean that I have to act on the urges. I have choices.”

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STEP THREE: EXPLORE IT

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These urges represent an attempt to meet a real, legitimate need in your life.

It can help to name the need behind the urges. Begin by identifying the need you are trying to meet through the eating disorder behavior.

Examples:

I need to feel safe or in control

I need to feel accomplished or valuable

I want to escape/numb out

I need to feel comfort or pleasure

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STEP FOUR: SEE RECOVERY

 

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Visualize how you can act as you find healthy ways to meet your needs.

See yourself acting in accord with recovery and your long-term goals. Rather than imagining yourself using eating disorder behaviors, picture yourself living a life of recovery.

Examples:

I see myself choosing to reach out to people rather than bingeing

I see myself working on a project that I enjoy

I see myself being present with people rather than thinking about calories

I see myself using my voice to state my needs

I see myself learning to accept that I can’t be perfect

If negative thoughts come to mind (such as “I don’t deserve recovery” or “I can’t do this”) do your best to let those thoughts go and write them down to discuss later with your treatment team and support system.

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STEP FIVE: REFOCUS

 

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If the urges are still strong, focus your attention on something that requires concentration. This is more than distraction. Immerse your mind as fully as possible into something other than the behavior. This focus, along with abstaining from the behavior, actually rewires the brain in healthy ways.

Examples:

Deep breathing or yoga exercises

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Calm.com

Games that require strategy

Listen intently to music

Learn a new, challenging skill

Talk with a friend and practice good listening

ReflectivePrayer.com

Solve a challenging puzzle

Read/watch a mystery

Finally, don’t do these steps alone! Reach out to friends, family, support groups or professionals for help. There is a lot of power in community.

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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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