Resolving your eating disorder means that potentially you will be without a way a coping with difficult and challenging experiences. It is therefore important that you develop alternative coping strategies in parallel with working to resolve your eating disorder. This will feel difficult for a two reasons. Firstly, up until now you have been using your eating disorder to cope and so have not needed to explore alternatives. You will therefore needed to spend some time discovering what works best for you whilst remembering that initially nothing will be as effective as your eating disorder but that with time and practice strategies that do not undermine your wellbeing can only enhance it. Secondly, nurturing and soothing yourself in a respectful way is likely to be a new experience that doesn’t fit with your low sense of self worth, so it is something that you will again need to dedicate time and practice to. Each time you can choose to take an alternative path to your eating disorder when tackling something distressing, you allow weeds to grow across the eating disorder path making it harder to follow the next time.

An effective way of soothing yourself during times of distress is to stimulate one or more of your senses. The table below gives some examples of alternative ways of coping with distress through your senses. Select nurturing activities from lists or develop your own and practice them initially when you are feeling calm so that you can discover what you find the most soothing. When you are feeling distressed you will then quickly be able to initiate a soothing activity. Focus on one sense at a time or for increased soothing potential combine the senses.
Vision:
Focus on nature: take a scenic walk, focus on the vibrant colours of plants/flowers around you, watch fish swimming in a tank/pond, watch birds flying etc
Focus on art: watch a ballet/dance performance. go to a museum with beautiful art
Light a candle and watch the flame
Decorate a room with all of your best/favourite things

Hearing:
Listen to music
Sing/hum to music
Pay attention to the sounds of nature (water, birds, rainfall, leaves rustling)
Talk to others

Smell:
Burn incense
Spray your favourite perfume
Boil cinnamon
Make fresh coffee
Bake a cake
Smell flowers

Taste:
(N.B. This can be a difficult sensation initially and so can be excluded until eating has become less emotion driven)
Have a soothing drink
Stuck a peppermint
Chew gum
Treat yourself to food you wouldn’t usually spend money on

Touch
Have a bath
Put clean sheets on your bed
Put a big warm jumper/silky blouse on
Put on body lotion
Wash your hair with nice smelling products
Have a massage

Author's Bio: 

The British CBT & Counselling Service are Doctors of Clinical Psychology and Counselling Psychologists (MSc) (Richmond, Kingston, Nottingham), specialising in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for both adults and children experiencing a range of problems including, anxiety, depression, relationship problems, bereavement, eating disorders (including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa), obsessive compulsive disorder and others distressing emotional problems. We offer Face to Face CBT Counselling, Telephone CBT Counselling, Marriage Counselling and Online CBT Counselling.
All members of The British CBT & Counselling Service (Richmond, Kingston, Nottingham and West Bridgford) are Doctors of Clinical Psychology, Counselling Psychologists (MSc) or CBT Therapists (Postgraduate Diploma) and are accredited to practice by The British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy and/or hold a practicing certificate with The British Psychological Society. All Psychologists are also registered with The Health Professionals Council which monitors and regulates the practice of Psychologists and some are members of The British Association of Cognitive Psychotherapies South London. Our Psychologists have spent between seven and nine years training to enable people to overcome their emotional difficulties via CBT Counselling and have been qualified practitioners for at least two years. In addition to practicing privately, many hold (or have recently held) senior positions in the NHS.
Dr Gray (Consultant Clinical Psychologist) is the Director of The British CBT & Counselling Service. She is also a Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, has published widely in the field of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Counselling and speaks regularly at both national and international conferences. She is also co-author of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Patients with Eating Disorders: A Comprehensive Treatment Guide. Cambridge University Press (2007) and the companion guide for patients Beating Your Eating Disorder. Cambridge University Press (2010).