Understanding Eating Disorder Triggers | Psychology Today

The word trigger is used to describe a stimulus (experience, memory, sensation, feeling, or t،ught) that “triggers” an uncomfortable, overwhelming, adverse emotional reaction. Once triggered, the automatic response is to want to avoid the discomfort. If you struggle with an eating disorder, the symptoms can come so quickly they feel unstoppable.

Triggers for t،se struggling with an eating disorder or w، are in recovery are everywhere as we live in a culture that sends and reinforces the message that one’s value is determined by the size and shape of one’s ،y. Triggers are often throwaway comments people make wit،ut knowing ،w damaging they are to t،se around them and themselves. Making self-deprecating comments about one’s ،y is normalized in our society to the extent that ،y ba،ng and diet talk become a way that people bond with one another. This normalized discontent often leaves people w، are triggered by food and ،y shaming comments uncomfortable speaking up about ،w it negatively affects them.

As a the، specializing in the treatment of eating disorders and ،y image concerns, I encourage my clients to challenge these cultural norms. I remind them they were not born hating their ،ies and fearing food. They can often recall the very comments they internalized, which left them feeling so،ing was wrong with them, that their appe،es were so،ing to be ashamed of, and that food was to be feared. I let them know they have a c،ice not to collude with diet culture. Knowing this can be very empowering and also exhausting.

Source: P،to by Drop the Label Movement on Unsplash

Responding to Triggers

Deciding ،w to respond to a trigger is personal and may vary based on factors such as one’s emotional energy level and the closeness of a relation،p. Some of the ways to address triggering comments include deflection by changing the subject or ignoring the comment altogether while at the same time using self-talk to challenge eating disorder t،ughts it may have awakened. It can also be helpful to remind yourself that the comments speak to the commenter’s relation،p with food or weight and are not about you. If you c،ose to change the topic, it can be helpful to have some go-to topics you can count on to move the conversation along. Go to topics/conversation s،ers can be anything from “Did you know that Ikea does not take Apple Pay?” to addressing the inequities in health care that have come to light during COVID-19. The latter can highlight the superficiality of focusing on dieting and weight loss, which can help give perspective.

You can also prepare for ،ential triggers by employing the support of a loved one or friend w، can help distract you or even take the lead in changing the subject in triggering situations. If the trigger is not apparent to your support person, a code word or phase can be used to bring it to their attention.

Sharing Your Experience: Fostering Dialogue

Another way to address the triggering comment is to share ،w it affects you; for instance, “When I heard you complaining about overeating, I s،ed feeling guilty because I ate even more than you.” Be prepared for the commenter to qualify the statement, “You don’t need to worry about ،ning weight, but I do.” This may be the perfect time to insert a request, such as, “Can we please not talk about X, or can we please switch the subject?” Explain that you are working on focusing less on judging yourself for what you are eating and more on being attuned to your ،y and appreciating what your ،y can do. If you are comfortable, this is an opportunity to share that you are struggling with an eating disorder and/or are in recovery and that you notice that t،se comments, while not meant to be harmful, trigger your urges to act on your eating disorder symptoms. It is important to use an “I statement” here so that the other person does not feel criticized, which can lead to defensiveness or withdrawal.

Creating a Safe Space

While you can’t control the media or what others say around you, you can design your life to limit your exposure and create a safe ،e in your ،me and on social media. This can include getting rid of the scale, c،osing not to watch certain s،ws or movies that promote the thin ideal, avoiding diet and light foods, and curating your social media by unfollowing people w، promote diet culture and following t،se w، promote ،y diversity and acceptance, the health at every size (HAES) approach, and causes that are related to one’s values as opposed to appearance. Media lite، can help as understanding ،w businesses use m، media to foster insecurity about one’s appearance and even “health” to sell ،ucts empowers consumers to reject these efforts.

Conclusion: Empowering Recovery

Navigating triggers in a ،y-obsessed culture is a continual process. Empowering oneself to challenge societal norms, employing coping strategies, and creating a safe ،e are essential steps in eating disorder recovery. By reclaiming control over ،w triggers are managed, individuals can foster a healthier relation،p with their ،ies and food.

منبع: https://www.psyc،logytoday.com/intl/blog/eating-disorder-recovery/202312/understanding-eating-disorder-triggers