How Long Does It Take To Break Bad Eating Habits


Noticing your ambivalent thoughts and how differently you would advise or treat others than you treat yourself may help you recognize your two parts of self. Look over the statements below and put Y for Yes, or N for No in front of each one.

Part of me wants to get better and part of me doesn’t.

I would never restrict my (kids or friends) food like I restrict mine.

My clothing size indicates I’m thin, but I do not see or feel it.

Part of me wants nothing more than to stop bingeing, but then later I binge.

I agree to do something different with food, which will help me move toward recovery, but when the time comes to do it, another part of me takes over and talks me out of it.

If you put a Yes in front of any of these statements, hopefully you can see there are two forces at work inside of you. It is really this simple: One is your Eating Disorder Self and the other is the Healthy Self you were born with, which is still in there waiting to be freed up and put back in charge.

Below is a client’s point of view as she shares a dialogue she wrote between her Eating Disorder Self (EDS) and Healthy Self (HS):

EDS: Oh my God. A chicken sandwich? No. Not acceptable, I can’t believe I’m thinking of eating that. It will make me fatter than I already am. Don’t eat it, no . STOP. You can stop this. If you do not eat it, maybe you can be thin again, right? Be good! Get a salad.

HS: Wait, wait, wait. You do not want to go back there. You have been down this road so many times, and we both know where it ends. I do not think this is just about the sandwich.

People can eat sandwiches and not get fat. You too. You have just trained yourself to not eat stuff like that, but you can change that. I think youre upset about something else.

There are so many things right now you are not talking about college, mom, Kirby .

EDS: Oh, shut up. I’m having a fat day . every day is a fat day. Chicken sandwiches do not make fat go away . they make it worse. And I want to be thin. I should get a salad.

HS: It’s not that you can’t eat salads but you need to know that you are not going to gain weight with either choice. You have been eating lots of salads and then you do not feel satisfied. If you do not eat enough you will end up bingeing. Neither of us want that.

EDS: But if I binge I can always purge.

HS: Yes you could, but then there we go again, back to the same old cycle we are trying to end get hungry, do not eat enough, binge, purge, feel miserable, then say once again that it is the last time. We can actually eat food we like and be okay. And we have to start

somewhere, even if it is really hard. Youre upset about something. If you do not restrict, binge, or purge, we might figure out what it is. We might begin to heal.

EDS: I’m not like other people who have problems, Ijust want to be skinny, not fat like you are going to make our body. When I was in total control, we were beautiful. We wore tiny clothes, and everyone thought we were special. Then you started wanting to get better and eat more and that got us fat.

HS: Well, it might feel to you like fat but we are still underweight by every standard there is.

What we were and still are is messed-up.  We were not special,  we were sick with anorexia and out of control and sad. It’s because of you that we couldnt focus and had to drop out of school. And since I know we are smart, it must be you. It’s because of you that we lost our boyfriend and our parents do not trust us. When you were in control, we were so sick we couldn’t dance at the prom. Our blood work scared the doctors. No one thought we looked good, they thought we looked awful and had a problem. You have confused thinness for control and people’s worry with admiration. It feels comforting to have people worry about us. This is important and something worth talking about. So let’s eat the sandwich and deal with it and talk about the things that are really important to talk about.

Note: We try to keep everyone’s dialogue as they wrote it so in this Key you will notice that different clients use the term I or You or We when communicating with their different selves. This is a personal choice. Some clients use all the pronouns, for example, I’m trying to have a life and you seem to only care about us losing weight. Experiment with them all and use what feels and works best for you.

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