Gratitude and Eating Disorders
“When my bulimia was really bad, it distracted me from everything,” says Naomi. “It didn’t really matter that my son was failing in school or that my husband was never home. But the good things in life didn’t matter either.”
A turning point in Naomi’s recovery came when she was introduced to the concept of mindfulness, in this case increasing awareness about things in her life for which she is grateful. Eating disorders are isolating and distance people from many of life’s experiences, large and small. A friend from OA shared her own gratitude journal and Naomi soon began to recognize that there were positives in herlife. She was also able to focus on and begin to resolve the negatives, such as her son’s school problems, her husband’s escapism, and her own destructive eating patterns.
Being aware of the things you are grateful for grants wholeness and a sense of inner peace, which promotes healing.
Melody Beattie, a renowned expert on recovery from addictive behaviors says this about gratitude: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
A gratitude journal is a way to deliberately attend to the things that we are thankful for each day. By concentrating on gratitude, we become more mindful of these things and shift in our thinking to the positive. To keep a gratitude journal first begin be aware of the things for which you are grateful. Notice how this focus shifts you to a more optimistic outlook. Before bedtime, write down five things you are grateful for. You can include anything, large or small— the blue sky, something funny your child said, etc. Write a few words about the five things you select. You can also personalize the gratitude journal with quotes, photos and things that make you feel good.
In addition to gratitude journals, another positive way to enhance optimism is through the use of gratitude affirmations. Like other affirmations, they are positive statements targeted at a set of beliefs. Affirmations that focus on gratitude connect you with the things that are healthy in your life. An example of a gratitude affirmation is “I am profoundly connected to the source and power of life through continual gratitude.”
Websites abound with examples of gratitude affirmations. In addition C.J. Good’s Little Gifts of Sustainable Contentment is a collection of daily reflections. Connie, who is in recovery from compulsive eating saysthat the book “is a practical companion and a blueprint for living the contented life. The affirmations are designed to help clear out deeply ingrained, self-limiting ideas from the past to make space for contentment to unfold.”
As an unknown author says: “gratitude is the best attitude.”