Eating Disorders, although not classified as an addiction as such, are, in my opinion, exactly that.
People with eating disorders use food as a coping mechanism- it makes them feel in control, providing them with a form of escapism in which they can numb out all their other emotions. This is exactly the reason why most addicts, whether they’re addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling or any other addiction, cling so dearly to their addiction. Despite the fact that it destroys their life, making them a shell of their former self, the way it makes them feel (numb and out of touch of their emotions), leaves them going back for more, and more, and more.
The main difference between eating disorders and ‘traditional’ addictions like drugs and alcohol, however, is that the ‘poison’ (in this case, food) is not being discouraged, but quite the opposite.
Unlike recovering drug addicts or alcoholics, eating disorder sufferers cannot remove the source of their pain from their life. No, in many cases, they have to add more of it in, therefore increasing their difficult feelings. They’re not just having to experience such feelings once a day, either, but at least three times a day. That means that every couple of hours, potentially even more regularly depending on an individual’s specific meal plan, people in eating disorder recovery are coming face to face with something that causes them so much pain.
Just imagine if a recovering alcoholic was constantly having glasses of wine put in front of them, it would all get too much. Well, for eating disorder sufferers, food is the addiction, albeit a different type, so the same principle applies. This doesn’t fair well for people who struggle with eating disorders, particularly due to the fact that, today, we are living in a culture obsessed with what we eat and what we look like. Being constantly around food/talk around food means that people in recovery from eating disorders must find something that can distract them from their difficult feelings, otherwise they will feel like they are drowning in them.
In terms of how I distract myself when my own difficult feelings surface, the main distraction I turn to time and time again is something that I am doing right now, and that is writing. I have always been what I would describe as an ‘emotionally contained’ person, meaning that I usually struggle to open up about how I’m feeling. However, when I write I feel able to open up without worrying about how people might perceive me as a result. So, naturally, when I’m struggling, I write, because that allows me to offload, which, as most people will know, provides some much-needed relief when times get tough.
You need to find something that acts as a distraction for you, to provide a sense of comfort amid the challenges that might occur on your road to recovery. Do this, and your journey will be made a hell of a lot easier.
Good luck, and remember: you’ve got this!!