5 Common Statements an Eating Recovery Psychologist Says We All Need to Avoid

Updated: Feb. 16, 2023

Dr. Allison Chase, PhD, CEDS-S, is a clinical director of eating recovery who says minding your language about food, exercise, and your body can be a powerful way to influence others, including young people, in their own development of a loving self-image.

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If you grew up in a generation when much of an individual’s worth was based on their appearance, you might be relieved to observe some parts of our society moving toward a more celebratory spirit about varied body types. But for many kids, and even some of us adults, social media pressures are real. We grownups need to continuously exemplify the beliefs that a healthy body is what’s important, and what we can achieve with physical strength and psychological self-assurance is how make an impact in our world—that the way we look is only one part of who we are.

To do our part in helping our culture move into this more supportive direction, it can be worth continuously examining our own attitudes about food, exercise and health. As a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist Supervisor, and from my 25 years in the field of eating disorder and mental health treatment for both children and adults, the following are beliefs we need to reframe for our own wellbeing…as well as that of people we care about.

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“I was so ‘bad’ today and ate cake!”

There are no foods that should be off-limits. Thinking about our behavior as bad vs. good can set up feelings of deprivation and unhealthy patterns.

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“I am going to fast tomorrow since I ate so much today.”

A statement like this perpetuates an unhealthy pattern of eating behavior that we see in many individuals, referred to as the “binge/restriction cycle.” It is a pattern of disordered eating influenced by both physical and emotional signals in the body—eating larger amounts of food, which induces feelings of guilt and shame, which results in period of restriction of intake—only to set up recurring patterns of physical hunger, then craving, which once again will result in the consumption of excessive food.

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“I am going to start a specific diet to lose the fat in this specific area.”

This statement only perpetuates the misinformation that so many kids are exposed to on social media, that somehow one can fix certain parts of their body with “magic” pills, diets or remedies. This type of information is contributing to the rise in unhealthy eating and dieting behavior among children and teens, which is often a precursor to the development of eating disorders. Therefore, it is so important that parents model appropriate and accurate information around health and eating.

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“I am feeling so guilty about my eating habits, I am going to be sure to exercise for hours tomorrow to work it off.”

Exercise is important for anyone’s body. It promotes health for all muscles, including the heart. That is the purpose of exercise and movement: it strengths the heart, a vital organ, and improves muscle tone, which is especially important for aging females.

The purpose of exercise should not be focused on weight loss or seen as a compensatory behavior for eating. Many individuals who struggle with eating disorders engage in compulsive exercise, which is not healthy or helpful. By exercising for our health, and not our appearance, we can promote healthful movement and activity that is joyful and promotes health and well-being.

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Dr. Allison Chase, PhD, CEDS-S, is the Regional Clinical Director for Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center in Denver, CO