Eating Disorder Mindset

Article contributed by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, Founder and Director of Eating Disorder Hope and Debra Cooper, BS, Expert writer on Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are often fueled by an unhealthy internal dialogue within the individual struggling with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder or compulsive overeating.

Is the glass empty or half full? We all recognize this age-old question that helps determine whether an individual has a positive or negative outlook on life. Today, health professionals are realizing how incredibly important a positive outlook really is. Wise people are known to say that life is comprised of 10% experience and 90% attitude. In other words, the way a person views the triumphs, and especially the tragedies, in their lives will profoundly impact their overall happiness and mental health.

Researchers have analyzed the neuropathways found in the brain with some interesting results. Evidently, these pathways become highly entrenched; this means that a person’s thoughts automatically follow in the same pattern, time after time. It’s like a default on a computer; if a person tends to be highly negative or pessimistic, then that will be their default response in most situations.

But here’s the good news: these pathways, with effort, can be altered. Imagine placing a hose at the top of a hill and turning it on. The water trickles down the hill, creating a pathway. Leave the hose on and the trench may deepen and widen, but basically remains the same. Now, place a brick in the middle of the stream; the water will run off on either side and begin creating new pathways. That is how it works in the brain, only not with water, but with choosing to think positively instead of negatively.

In eating disorder treatment, outpatient and residential, this thought restructuring skill for eating disorders is often taught through cognitive behavior therapy.

Remember…Behaving in a positive or negative fashion is a choice. What’s more, it is possible to change your personal default, which may improve your life, health, longevity and relationships.
Last reviewed: By Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 16, 2013
Page last updated April 16, 2013

Published on, Online Eating Disorder Help