Eating Disorders and Mindfulness

Article Contributed by Debra Cooper, BS, Staff of Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has yet to come. What any one of us actually has at any given time is today; more specifically, right now. Mindfulness refers to the notion of living, existing and valuing the present. You see, every single moment of life has value, if only we know how to tap into it. At any given moment, there is something to focus on and appreciate all that is needed is the five senses. Perhaps it’s looking at the vivid coloration of a sunset, or smelling the fragrance of a flower, or tasting the flavor of fresh fruit. Even better, consider stroking a cat and listening to its contented purr, which utilizes two senses simultaneously.

The practice of mindfulness is particularly important to those struggling with eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and compulsive overeating. This is because it is so easy for an individual to become consumed with eating disorder thoughts, which by definition are not positive or self-affirming. “I look like a pig … if I eat this meal I will get fat … no one likes me… if I was thin, I would have friends.” How often do such thoughts, or others like them, come to mind? And the problem is, there is never just one thought; one leads to another to another. Soon they are tripping over each other, trying to take center stage, leaving the individual distracted and overwhelmed by negative emotions. This is why mindfulness has value. Instead of heading down that road of negativity, a person needs to STOP and consciously redirect their own thoughts, by looking, hearing, touching whatever it takes to break the cycle.

Accessing one or all of the senses is always available. But mindfulness can also be practiced intentionally through meditation or prayer. Being still, allowing the mind to clear, focusing on positive issues or topics, and simply not permitting negative thoughts or emotion to encroach on this quiet time.

Remember…You do not have to be a victim of negative emotion. By practicing mindfulness, you can take control of your thoughts and ownership of your emotions.

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Last reviewed: By Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 4, 2012
Article Contributed by our Sponsor ~ Timberline Knolls Treatment Center
Page last updated June 12, 2012
Published on, Online Eating Disorder Treatment Help