Empowering Yourself: Managing Eating Disorder Triggers | Aster Springs

Empowering Yourself: Managing Eating Disorder Triggers

For someone suffering from an eating disorder, it can feel like triggers are everywhere. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help navigate these situations with confidence.

Common Eating Disorder Triggers

Eating disorder triggers can come in many forms. Some physical, emotional, and social situations are commonly challenging for those in recovery.

Physical Triggers

Those who are in recovery may have difficulty tolerating the sensation of fullness. For many, this leads to feeling like they overate and can cause emotional discomfort. 

Likewise, hunger can also be a physical trigger. While hunger serves as a natural reminder that our bodies need food regularly to survive, this feeling of hunger can be alarming for those struggling with restriction or binge eating. The person with the eating disorder may fear that, once they start eating, they won’t be able to stop. This fear is usually rooted in having an unhealthy relationship with food.

Another common physical trigger is illness. For someone who has struggled with restriction or purging, developing a stomach bug can stir up a lot of fear. Regularly eating is an essential aspect of staying in recovery. 

When they physically cannot eat normally because they are sick, this may trigger thoughts of restriction. Many people in treatment become afraid when their eating patterns change during periods of illness due to fear of relapse. Those who have struggled with purging may also feel triggered when sickness results in digestive issues.

These are all common physical sensations that can cause an eating disorder trigger. However, not all triggers are physical.

Emotional Triggers

Emotions play a significant role in the development of eating disorders. For many people, food is a coping mechanism. Therefore, feelings such as stress, loneliness, or sadness may result in disordered eating patterns. Exacerbations of co-occurring mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, OCD, or bipolar disorder can also trigger eating disorder symptoms.

Social/Cultural Triggers

Cultural norms also play a significant role in eating disorder development. Our society’s view of health and beauty can lead to extreme behaviors to achieve a “perfect” body. While this is often reflected in popularized celebrity diets, “health” foods, and weight loss supplements, societal triggers can also be more personal.

For someone with an eating disorder, it can be triggering to hear two co-workers chatting about their newest diet or a family member commenting about their weight. These social situations may lead to increased isolation in an attempt to avoid eating disorder triggers.

Tips for Overcoming Triggers in Recovery

Know your triggers. Consider what commonly leads to your eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. Whether you are at higher risk when you’re hungry, tired, stressed, or around certain people, awareness is key to managing these situations with confidence.

Assess your expectations. If your goal is to avoid all triggers, you may need to re-evaluate your expectations. The truth is, it’s impossible to avoid all eating disorder triggers. Instead, equip yourself with skills to navigate the inevitable triggers without derailing your recovery.

Talk with your treatment team. Work with your therapist to find coping skills that work best for you. Process your triggers with your treatment team. 

Take care of yourself. While it may sound overly simplistic, self-care can play a crucial role in overcoming eating disorder triggers. Get plenty of sleep, eat regular, nutritious meals, and spend time with people who value you as a person. 

You don’t have to manage your triggers alone. Aster Springs offers eight locations across multiple states to help you access treatment closer to home. Don’t wait any longer to seek help. Find a treatment center near you.

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