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Eating Disorders – Common Thoughts

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Eating Disorders are characterised by intense thoughts and preoccupations around food, body shape and fear of weight changes. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Eating Disorders (CBT-ED) helps to develop an understanding of the beliefs that are preventing recovery and seeks to challenge unhelpful beliefs in a variety of ways.

When providing CBT for eating disorders one of the first things I do is give my clients this list of common Eating Disorder Thoughts because once we can name our thoughts we can tame them.

CBT techniques can really help you if you struggle with your relationship with food, here are some top tips:

1. Notice the relationship between your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.  Unhelpful thoughts will often lead to unpleasant emotions such as worry, dread, anxiety and sadness and these feelings will then cause unhelpful food related behaviours such as calorie counting, food avoidance, restriction or even binging.

2. Learn to name your thoughts.  Instead of acting on your thoughts, slow the process down, use this sheet to really think about your thoughts.  List the unhelpful thoughts you are experiencing.

3.  Remember you get to choose how you respond to your thoughts.  Instead of letting your unhelpful thoughts drive your feelings and behaviours, begin to question your thoughts.  List alternative and more rational explanations.  For example, if you are “Emotionally Reasoning” and telling yourself because you feel bloated your must have gained weight, question the validity of your explanation.  The alternative would be, this physical feeling is just a sign that my food is moving from my intestines to my bowels/it’s normal to feel bloated after eating/I’ve never noticed anyone else suddenly gaining weight and I am no different/regular eating does not cause weight gain.

For your free download of common eating disorder thoughts click here. If you would like to improve your relationship with food or if you are struggling with an eating disorder, use the contact form below to arrange a free telephone consultation.  Geraldine Claire is an accredited CBT therapist working in central Wilmslow and she has 20 years experience of working with people who have eating difficulties.

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