How to Overcome Guilt Associated With Eating Disorder?

By September 12, 2012

I have suffered from different forms of eating disorders almost as long as I can remember. I am obsessed with food. My problem now is eating at night and waking up in the morning and feeling so GUILTY. Then I must exercise or my whole day is ruined. Can you PLEASE help me find a way to overcome the guilt? It is tearing me up inside and nobody really seems to understand what I feel. Thank you. – Michelle.

Dear Michelle,

Millions of women and men know exactly what this overwhelming guilt feels like. You have put your finger on a core feature that keeps disordered eating going. Guilt is the fuel that fans the fire. It sounds like you are so sick of the cycle that you are ready to break it. Here are some ways.

One of the most powerful things you can do is REFUSE the guilt. I noticed you e-mailed us early in the morning. You can take this time in the first moments of the day to decide the tone for your day.

Each time you begin to start the old thought patterns…”I’ve done it again. How could I? I’m hopeless.” INSTEAD say to yourself, “Stop! TODAY I CHOOSE TO TREAT MYSELF WITH THE SAME GENTLENESS AND COMPASSION THAT I WOULD TREAT A PRECIOUS CHILD OR A DEAR FRIEND.”

Don’t punish yourself. Eat. Nourish your body. You need to feed your body TODAY no matter what you ate yesterday. Refuse to punish yourself with obsessive exercise. Instead give yourself quiet time to pray or journal.

Accept the fact that even though you feel compelled to punish yourself, this way has never worked. Has it? No. It only keeps the cycle going, making us deprive ourselves, which only sets us up to overeat later.

So, if the positive purpose of your guilt is to help encourage you to do the right thing, choose some things that will help MORE – compassion and forgiveness. Everything in you may say, “I need to feel guilty,” but if that way worked, you would not feel so helpless.

Just give these techniques your whole-hearted effort for one week. If they don’t help break the cycle, you can always abandon them. Michelle, you deserve to direct all that energy to more important and fulfilling things.

Much Care and Respect,