We’ve all been there. Your sister calls you to let you know how many calories she burned at the gym tonight or one of your friends fills their Facebook status with self-hating nonsense about how much they loath their body.
It seems like something is always waiting to trigger us
In reality, no matter how hard we work on recovering from bulimia, it seems that there will always be someone or something waiting to inadvertently tear us down.
We live in a society where we constantly have to listen to other people glamourizing the latest starvation diets, talking about how bad they feel for eating certain “banned foods” and detailing how they must lose X amount of weight in X amount of time.
There’s no denying that situations like this can be extremely discouraging when you’re trying to recover
It can be just as tricky to listen to people talk about eating disorders. I bet you’ve felt your heart race a few times when those topics come up, especially when people talk about eating disorders in a negative light or are perhaps clueless to the facts.
Learning to live around non-food triggers, whether that is finding yourself around a lot of 'diet talk', “fat talk” or even just going about your daily life seeing commercials for weight loss is not easy, but in many ways it is essential if you are to succeed.
How do you do it?
It is impossible to click your fingers and make those triggers magically disappear so you have to get a little creative.
You can and should do your best to avoid toxic conversations but at the end of the day recovery is about living.
It is about getting out there in the real world. It is about knowing how to cope with difficult situations without bulimia and it is about experiencing all of the joys that this world has to offer without having to worry about censorship.
So it makes sense that the only way to live around these triggers is for YOU to make the change.
Like most people, in recovery I used to get so angry at my friends for talking about diets and weight loss while I was trying to recover. I'd even find myself falling apart if my husband mentioned food at the wrong time of day.
I used to put a lot of blame on the world for triggering me because I didn't understand:
I was the one in control of my world
My relapses were always "someone else’s fault" for a time. It took me a while before I realised that I was the one with the power. If I wanted them to stop triggering me then I had to take the steps to make that happen and slowly I leaned how to do that.
Strategies to help you deal with toxic conversations:
1. Physically remove yourself from the triggering situation
You don’t have to make it obvious, you could leave the room to “make a call” or to get a drink or visit the bathroom. This gives you the time to compose yourself, to give yourself a little pep talk and prepare mentally.
More importantly it also gives time for the conversation to pass over and move onto something else.
2. Change the subject
In the heat of the moment when you find your heart racing and your mind panicking about the subject matter this can be easier said than done.
In those cases a little bit of forward planning can be a great thing.
TIP: Think of about five go to topics or conversation changers that you can use next time you find people trying to include you in their toxic conversations. Remember conversation topics change naturally all of the time, it will be a lot easier to do than you think.
3. Think about the kinds of people you are surrounded by
Are they positive, strong people with depth and integrity? Do they make you feel like a better person and offer nurturing friendships?
Of course I am in no way saying that all people who engage in diet or fat talk are "bad people", I am just saying that you deserve to be surrounded by wonderful people who can support you in your recovery whether they know about your bulimia or not. It may be time to re-evaluate some friendships.
4. Challenge the subject
This doesn’t have to turn into an all-out heated debate (unless you’re feeling strong enough for such a wonderful endeavour). Instead why not make a quick comment about how sad it is that people always focus on self-hate, or weight issues.
EXAMPLE: I once started a discussion with a friend on this very topic. I asked "why is it acceptable to live in a world where we put ourselves down in public and people don't even think twice - but when we exhibit self-love suddenly people don't know how to react?" From that conversation we actually made a pact to openly show self-love rather than self-hate.
Eventually you will learn to deal with these situations naturally but strategies like this are a great place to start...
Recovery helps you to develop an inner confidence and a great desire to protect and nurture yourself.
I never thought I’d be the type of person who could take a stand against toxic conversations like this. I never thought I would be comfortable and confident being the "odd one out" when friends were engaging in diet talk but in reality that's exactly the type of person that recovery has empowered me to become!
If you want to know more about bulimia recovery for life access your
Free Bulimia Recovery Course now, it's jam-packed full of recovery-goodness!
Catherine is the Program Manager and Recovery Coach at
Bulimia Help - the webs largest bulimia recovery community.
She has a great deal of experience supporting and mentoring people in recovery from bulimia and more than that, she has a genuine passion for it after making her own successful recovery from Bulimia - which completely took over her life for almost eleven years.
With a degree in Applied Psychology BSc (Hons)and a Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Social and Community Studies, Catherine has an excellent knowledge base and great insight into understanding eating disorders and their treatment.