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Eating Disorders- A Guide to Coping Strategies (4515)

Eating Disorders- A Guide to Coping Strategies (4515) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Psychosocial, Bereavement, Psychiatry


Eating Disorders
A Guide to Coping Strategies
This handout tells you ways to deal with an
eating disorder. These ideas have been
written by nurses who work with people
who have eating disorders. Using the ideas
in this guide can help you control eating
disorder symptoms.

If you have any questions or concerns please
feel welcome to call the number listed at the
end of the handout.

To Improve Body Image
ξ Put away your scale.
ξ Dress to feel comfortable.
ξ Draw attention to parts of
your body you are proud of.
ξ Walk proud.
ξ Put away your skinny clothes.
ξ Start the morning with good
ξ Recognize that your thinking
about your body may be
ξ Realize you are not being
singled out because you think
you have gained weight.
ξ Be comfortable and familiar
with your body.

To Cope with Eating
ξ Change the subject when
other people talk about food,
weight, or body size and
ξ Set a routine – eat three well-
balanced meals that are
ξ Make menus for a day ahead
of time and post them.
ξ Eat with people who support
healthy eating.
ξ Make lunch your main meal.
ξ Have a back-up plan for
nutrition if you can’t eat a
ξ Develop a support system for
times when eating is a
ξ Plan things to do at times
when other people are
ξ Avoid alcohol. It is a set-up
for a binge.
ξ Occupy yourself after a meal.
ξ Walk away from the table
after meals.
ξ Plan healthy snacks.
ξ Eat healthy foods instead of
junk foods.
ξ Make meals ahead of time.
ξ Make a date to eat with
ξ Set your meal times 4 to 5
hours apart.
ξ Don’t buy binge foods.
ξ Make a shopping list and
stick to it.
ξ Eat before you go to a party.
Do not go hungry.
ξ Set a time limit for eating.
ξ Make sure to enjoy more
about your meal than just the
ξ Stay away from bathrooms
after meals.
ξ Start the day with breakfast.
ξ Make decisions about eating
and stick to them.
ξ If you have trouble knowing
when you are hungry, plan to
eat regularly.

To Control Urges to Binge
ξ Work on hobbies and
ξ Go for a walk.
ξ Watch a movie.
ξ Take a risk. Do something
ξ Talk to and pet animals.
ξ Don’t take extra money when
you go out.
ξ Exercise.
ξ Shop.
ξ Take a nap.
ξ Clean (for yourself, not for
ξ Talk with someone
ξ Avoid the kitchen when you
walk in the door.
ξ Listen to music.
ξ Take a warm shower or bath.

To Deal with Feelings after a Binge
ξ Forgive yourself.
ξ Find something else to do.
ξ Get away from your eating
ξ Talk with someone else. You
may or may not talk about
your eating behaviors.
ξ Nurture yourself even if you
don't feel like it.
ξ Try self-talk. Say you do not
look any different than you
did a few minutes ago.
ξ Get yourself back on track
with routine eating.

To Improve Your Self-Esteem
ξ Start the morning with self-
care, grooming to feel your
ξ Acknowledge your feelings.
ξ Be creative (crafts, music,
clothing, etc.).
ξ Look back on awards and
ξ Display a “brag wall.”
ξ Keep a scrapbook or photo
album handy to review proud
ξ Make a checklist of
ξ Learn something new.
ξ Become an expert at
something and talk about it.
ξ Assert your opinion when
you feel confident.
ξ Take a self-defense class.
ξ Allow yourself to feel angry.
ξ Ask for help and support.
ξ Allow yourself to be good
enough, not perfect.
ξ Accept compliments without
ξ Take a self-awareness or
assertiveness class.

To Tell Yourself You’re Okay
ξ Set short term goals one day
at a time.
ξ Look at the positives of being
away from your symptoms.
ξ Anticipate good times and
how you might handle bad
ξ Forgive yourself.
ξ Keep a diary and write your
good and bad feelings.
ξ Encourage yourself with self-
pep talks.
ξ Tell yourself that you are
ξ Tell yourself you need to eat
to keep your energy level up.
ξ Review your strengths.
ξ Mark a calendar every day
you keep symptoms in
control and look back at your
own improvement.

ξ Allow yourself quiet time.
ξ Get satisfaction from
relationships rather than from
ξ Tell yourself your number
one priority is your health.
ξ Remember the positives of
not getting involved with

To Nurture and Reward Yourself
ξ Shop for yourself.
ξ Exercise.
ξ Take a bath.
ξ Set money aside for a goal.
ξ Vacation.
ξ Wear clothes that have
special meaning for you.
ξ Wear perfume.
ξ Ask someone else to give you
a foot or back massage.
ξ Get your hair or nails done.
ξ Listen to music you like.
ξ Snuggle.
ξ Have lunch with a friend;
make the food secondary.
ξ Window shop.
ξ Buy yourself flowers.
ξ Call a friend.
ξ Read a novel.
ξ Go to a movie.
ξ Pat yourself on the back.
ξ Tell yourself you have done
ξ Buy new makeup.
ξ Steal time for yourself even if
you are busy.

To Deal with Feeling Isolated
ξ Be a volunteer.
ξ Go someplace where you can
be with people even if you do
not want to talk.
ξ Call a supportive person.
ξ Join in a group game.
ξ Join an exercise class.
ξ Make eye contact with people
around you; smile and be
open to others approaching
ξ Plan activities with friends or
ξ Read to someone else.
ξ Develop a hobby and go to
specialty meetings.
ξ Join a choir or a band.

To Deal with Tension
ξ Practice deep breathing and
mindfulness exercises to
lessen anxiety
ξ Accept your feelings as they
ξ Cry, scream, let it all out.
ξ Shout into a pillow.
ξ Designate a pillow as
someone you are mad at and
talk to it.
ξ Be assertive about your
ξ Avoid small upsets that
accumulate to a big blow up.
ξ Exercise but remember that
exercise can't replace saying
what is bothering you.
ξ Use humor.
ξ Learn to relax with deep
breathing or mediation.
ξ Practice saying your feelings
to a mirror or tape recorder.
ξ Keep a journal.
ξ Change the subject.

To Hold Your Own Assertively
ξ Expect and extend courtesy
to and from everyone – even
your family.
ξ Acknowledge the other
person’s rights.
ξ Say what you want, but be

willing to negotiate.
ξ Say what you need and insist
on your rights.
ξ Assume you are on equal
standing with everyone.
ξ Allow yourself time outs to
feel mentally stronger.
ξ Keep good eye contact but do
not stare.
ξ Keep yourself open to other
people by looking around.
ξ Use your support system and
ask for positive feedback.
ξ When things are not going
well, do not assume it is all
your fault.
ξ Clarify what is going on; ask
other people.
ξ Accept your own feelings,
choose if you want to act on
ξ Understand that you may not
have a choice. You may have
to disagree but go along. Let
people know you disagree
and then get on with it.

Phone Numbers
University of Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute
and Clinic can be reached by calling:
(608) 263-6100.

Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 10/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4515.