Recovery from Surgery Not Unlike Recovery from an Eating Disorder, Part III
Written by Joleen Wilson, RD/LD, CNSC, CBIS, Dietitian for Pathway to Eating Disorders Treatment at Brookhaven Hospital
In the previous two blogs of this series, I discussed how the steps in recovering from surgery can be likened to the steps necessary to recovery from anorexia, bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder, or BED. Now I would like to focus on simple wellness benefits that come from consistent work and follow through.
Each day, activities got easier. Everything in my daily life took a little creativity, needless to say.
Fast forward to 4 weeks post-op. I got my sling off and started physical therapy. The physical therapist gave me exercises to work on every day, three times a day. I did it for the first couple days but after that I struggled to stay on track. The main reason I hated doing my exercises is that they hurt and were hard to do. When I went back for my second session, she showed me a DIFFERENT way to do them so they would not cause discomfort. I sung her praises and was successful after that.
The later phases of recovery after a surgery is much like sticking to a lifestyle change. You have to consistently try EVERY day in order to get better. You have to do the right thing over and over again until it becomes habit. You have to identify the trigger, whether it be overeating at night, drinking too much, or not eating breakfast. Then you must normalize the situation by identifying the right thing to do. This might look like having a more filling dinner at night so you don’t overeat later, keeping yourself busy to avoid drinking, and prepping your breakfast the night before so you don’t skip it in the morning. The last step is to respond appropriately to cues. This means you must follow through with your plan! Make sure you have enough food in the house to cook a decent dinner and make sure you give yourself enough time to prepare it and sit down and eat it. There’s a lot to be said about the dining experience and the satisfaction it can bring if it’s eaten in an environment and way that seems inviting and conducive. To keep yourself busy at night, join a soccer league or walking group in your neighborhood. Go to a book club with friends and read your book choices in the evening so you’ll be prepared for the next book club meeting. These are all things that are action steps to keep you busy and accountable to avoid eating in excess. Lastly, make it a ritual each night to decide what you’ll have for breakfast the next morning. Lay out the ingredients, etc. Don’t make it too complicated or you’ll risk not following through. Keep these changes manageable so that you can be successful at what you are trying to improve on!
Many of you may have been diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease and you may no longer have a choice to eat right and exercise if you want to be around to enjoy your life and your family for years to come. This is where a lifestyle change must happen. Execute your action plan religiously to help you stay on track. Examples would be getting 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise in 5 days per week, getting 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables in a day, and getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night. This way you can look at lifestyle changes not as a strict and militant plan, but a road map in order to get healthier and to stay that way.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and past attempts at recovery have failed you, please give us a call at 888-298-HOPE (4673). Our program, Pathway to Eating Disorders Treatment, is designed to foster wellness in all aspects of life: physical, mental, and spiritual. Our team of qualified clinicians will help you get in touch with gentle hunger and fullness, and the reward that comes with mindful eating.