- Journaling is a self-care tool that can reduce anxiety and help you process complicated feelings during eating disorder recovery.
- If you’re not sure what to write, a writing prompt can help you get your thoughts on paper.
- Remember to keep the pressure low–journaling is a non-judgemental activity to help you make sense of your thoughts and emotions.
Eating disorder recovery is a journey with many ups and downs. Journaling can be a valuable, low-cost tool to help you process and regulate difficult emotions that may come up during your eating disorder treatment.
There are many different ways to journal–you can write about your day, past events, jot down affirmations, or even draw pictures. No matter which method you choose, it can be helpful to have some writing prompts to guide your thought process.
Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of journaling for eating disorder recovery and for five sample writing prompts.
Benefits of Journaling for Eating Disorder Recovery
Building a regular journaling practice can be a great self-care tool for eating disorder recovery.
It has numerous benefits, like reducing anxiety, helping you process stressful events, and serving as a non-judgemental space to share your thoughts.
A study from 2018 found that people with chronic conditions who journaled 15 minutes three days per week experienced fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression after a month.
They also reported less mental distress and improvements in well-being.
Process stressful events
Journaling can help you process past life events that may have contributed to your eating disorder.
Writing down your thoughts and emotions can also help you through the ups and downs of your eating disorder recovery journey.
Specifically, research shows a type of journaling called expressive writing is beneficial for improving mental and physical health. It involves writing about stressful or traumatic experiences.
Another journaling method is to write about positive events in your life and how these have shaped your thoughts and perspectives.
Talk to your therapist for further guidance on which type of journaling might be the best fit for you.
Journaling offers an opportunity to express your deepest thoughts and emotions without the risk of judgment from others.
Sometimes taking the first step of writing something down makes it easier to bring it up with your therapist or treatment team.
5 Empowering Journal Prompts for Eating Disorder Recovery
If you’re new to journaling, you may feel like you have nothing to write about. Using writing prompts geared toward eating disorder recovery can be a helpful way to get your thoughts flowing.
Your therapist or dietitian may also have some prompts or topics to recommend to you.
Some people find it beneficial to bring journal entries to their therapy sessions to guide the discussion, but know it’s okay to keep your journal private too.
Remember to let go of any expectations and pressure while writing. Don’t worry about spelling errors or how neat your writing looks. The most important thing is letting your thoughts and emotions out on paper.
1. What Are My Strengths When It Comes to My Eating Disorder Recovery?
This journaling prompt is a form of positive psychology because it encourages you to list your personal strengths that will help you recover from your eating disorder.
You can also frame this list in the form of affirmations, which are positive statements you can repeat to yourself during hard or stressful times.
For example, your entry may look like this:
- I can do hard things.
- I am brave.
- I am capable of beating this.
- I have a strong support team.
- I am determined to recover.
It may also help to think about what recovery means to you. How do you imagine your life without an eating disorder, and what would you do with the freedom that comes with healing?
2. How Can I Challenge My Current Beliefs About Food?
Unpacking your beliefs about food is a big topic and might be something you explore across multiple journal entries.
Start by reflecting on your relationship with food throughout your life. Was there a time you had a positive or neutral relationship with food? Remember how this felt.
When did your beliefs about food begin to change? Perhaps it was a specific event or many small things that built up over time.
Write about your current food beliefs and imagine what eating disorder recovery would feel like. How would you live your life if you weren’t preoccupied with food?
Consider working with a Nourish registered dietitian to learn how to start challenging some of these beliefs.
3. How Can I Reframe Negative Body Image Thoughts?
Body image concerns are common in eating disorders, and it can often feel like your mind is full of negative thoughts about how your body looks.
Start by jotting down a list of the body image thoughts that repeatedly come up for you. Next, you can brainstorm on your own and work with your therapist or dietitian to change this negative narrative.
For example, if you often fixate on the way your thighs look, here are some things you can practice saying instead:
- My legs are strong and help me get where I want to go.
- My weight does not define my worth.
- I will be kind to my body today.
4. What Do I Need to Feel Emotionally Nourished and Supported?
Eating disorder recovery isn’t only about restoring your physical health–it’s important to build habits that help your mental and emotional health.
Start by writing about a time in your life you felt emotionally healthy or supported. How did this feel?
Next, jot down things you can start practicing in your day-to-day life to help foster this feeling. It may help to brainstorm this segment with your therapist.
- Sit outside for a few minutes every day.
- Call a loved one when feeling stressed.
- Participate in activities you love.
- Set boundaries with others.
- Journal every day.
5. What Are Some Small Steps I Can Take to Reach My Recovery Goals?
Start this prompt by writing about your motivations and why you want to recover from your eating disorder.
Then, commit to one or more small actions you can take to support your treatment goals.
This will look different depending on where you are in your recovery journey. Some examples include:
- I will ask for help joining a treatment program.
- I will actively try to participate during today’s therapy session.
- I will journal for 5 minutes every night this week.
- I will try to challenge negative thoughts about food today.
- I will tell a loved one I think I might be relapsing.
Tips for Staying Consistent With Journaling
Journaling is a habit that takes time to build and may not come naturally to everyone. It can help to schedule a time each day, such as before bed, to pick up your journal.
You may even set a timer for a short amount of time, like five minutes, to get started.
If you have concerns about privacy with your journal, you might consider virtual journal options.
You can type your thoughts on a password-protected computer or try a smartphone journaling app.
There’s also specific journaling apps for people recovering from an eating disorder that may be a helpful tool.
Ask your therapist or dietitian about which one is the most appropriate for you.
Eating disorder recovery is a journey that can bring up many strong emotions.
While having a professional treatment team is important, self-care tools like journaling can be helpful.
A regular journaling practice can reduce anxiety, help you process stressful events, and be a non-judgemental space for you to express yourself.
Use journaling prompts to get started, or ask your therapist for ideas. Try writing for just a few minutes each day at the same time, such as before bed.
Managing Eating Disorders with an RD
In addition to counseling you on building a healthy relationship with food and your body image, a dietitian can help you by assigning thought-provoking journal prompts.
If you feel comfortable, you might share a few journal entries with your dietitian to help guide your sessions.
Book an online appointment with a registered dietitian through Nourish for professional and convenient eating disorder support.
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