‘The human nervous system is plastic in a very important way, which means your experience of the world can be radically transformed.” — Sam Harris, PhD
What this should instill in you is HOPE.
HOPE that if you keep working at your recovery, things will get better.
HOPE that you really can change the way you think and feel about food.
HOPE that you can someday live in peace with your body.
Because your brain literally changes the way it thinks and perceives things over time.
How does this work in eating disorder recovery?
We identify the thought patterns that are leading you to the eating disordered behaviors.
For example, if you believe that eating fat makes you fat, then you will probably avoid foods with fat in them.
But, because the body needs fat, your cravings will eventually win out, and you’ll find yourself feeling out of control with something like peanut butter, chips, cookies, ice cream, pizza….you get the point.
Then, because you believe that eating these foods will make you fat, you feel terribly guilty about eating them. And you feel awful about yourself.
The (faulty) underlying beliefs:
- Eating fat will make you fat
- Becoming fat is an awful thing
Changing your beliefs
This is the “plasticity” of the brain that Sam Harris refers to in the quote at the top. Plasticity means that it can be molded and shaped.
First, we would look at your belief that eating fat will make you fat, and whether or not this is scientifically true (spoiler alert – it’s not).
Then we could do some “experiments” where we have you eat some foods with fat in them to see if it does make you fat.
As you start to see that your belief is false, your brain starts to think differently about foods with fat in them. It starts to see them as tasty, beneficial, and safe to eat.
Then we would work on your belief that becoming fat is an awful thing…..etc.
Back to HOPE
You see how this works? We “rewire” your brains thoughts gradually over time to support recovery, rather than the eating disorder.
What this all means is that you CAN recover and you CAN have a profoundly different life. One that is rich and full of connection and joy — the very things that the eating disorder takes away from you.
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