Yesterday I had the pleasure of serving as a panelist in a round table discussion of binge eating disorder (BED) treatment for IAEDP's Boston Metro chapter. In addition to serving alongside excellent colleagues like Lisa Du Briel and Bob Bordonaro, there was a great conversation around how eating disorder clinicians can best serve patients struggling with binge eating disorder.
The recovery work around body image really struck a chord, as it's something that challenges both clinicians and patients. A few of the suggestions to help boost your own comfort in your body or to help patients in recovery begin to improve their self perceptions included:
- Increase the visibility of body-positive images in your online world: The kind of images we see or intentionally expose ourselves to can make a difference in our own perception of our bodies. Tumblr was mentioned as a resource where images of people in larger bodies loving their bodies are abundantly available.
- Improve physical spaces to the best of your ability, or admit and address shortcomings: If you’re a clinician, make sure your offices and waiting rooms have comfortable, accessible, and accommodating furniture. Have interesting artwork and reading material outside of the standard magazines that display only certain types of bodies. If this isn’t doable, talk openly about what’s lacking. Try to help clients be as comfortable as possible at all times so discomfort doesn’t go unacknowledged or dismissed.
- Boost your connection with community: joining Facebook groups or support groups for BED programs can help you feel plugged in to a wider group of people who understand or are similarly struggling with eating or body image issues.
- Focus on the body in positive ways: do you hide or avoid certain body parts? What would it be like to explore those physical spaces without judgement or criticism? This can be a foreign and difficult task. As an example of what this might look like, eating disorder recovery podcast Recovery Warriors describes dedicating a few minutes (or even as little as 30 seconds) a day to rubbing lotion onto body parts that you dislike. When we compare our bodies to others' or body check for reassurance, we rarely come away comforted or reassured. Instead, we often wind up feeling worse about our bodies and how we look. However, I've had clients tell me that when they take the time to touch their bodies (stomach, thighs) in a gentle, loving way, their perception of their body greatly improves.