Eating Disorder Recovery Fear & Anxiety In Recovery Neuroscience & Eating Disorders Rewiring / Neuroplasticity

Words Matter In Eating Disorder Recovery

This post is called, ‘Words Matter In Eating Disorder Recovery’ but actually the words we use in day to day life matter in everything, all the time!
So, although in this post, I will be relating how we use words and language to talk or think about ourselves or our lives in respect to eating disorder recovery, you can apply it to other areas of your life too (you are welcome).

What Do I Mean By ‘Words Matter’?

The words we think and the statements we speak…. well the brain that is constantly processing in our heads, hears it all and whether we realise it or not, the language we use (through thought, what we hear or what we say) affects what our brains do, how they wire and respond… and ultimately the words we use can impact what we believe.

Studies have found that negative self talk or hearing negative talk from others increases stress and anxiety in our brain, can lead to us developing negative beliefs about ourselves and increases our likelihood of long term anxiety.

Thinking negatively about ourselves will also reduce our likelihood of succeeding in achieving any life goals we may have, as we have already told our brain that we won’t succeed (so we self-fulfil our own prophecy!).

Conversely, just a simple positive statement we think or hear can have incredible effects… Repeated positive statements, or even just simple positive words (even if we don’t believe them at first) can really change and rewire our brains to start to perceive good in ourselves and the world around us.

The thoughts we have can change our beliefs and our beliefs ultimately drive our behaviours.  Therefore, if we can change our thoughts – turn negative to positive, we will ultimately affect how we act and rewire our brains at a much deeper level.

Positive words and language can literally change our reality for the better!

Plainly and simply – what we tell the brain – the brain will make real for us in what we think and how we behave.

Therefore, we need to feed our brains positivity, to rewire our self limiting beliefs and to change our perceptions of ourselves, our abilities and of the world around us.

What Does This Mean For Eating Disorder Recovery?

Everyone with an eating disorder has taught their brain that it is right to be afraid of food, of inactivity or of weight gain (probably of all these things!).  Many people with eating disorders also have shockingly low self worth.

But if that is you, then it is time to start using positive words and statements to allow your brain to take you to a much more rewarding and recovered life!

In considering the language used, we need to start to use language that removes fear, shame, guilt or judgement from how we think or speak about ourselves, our actions and our realities.

We need to remove negative language from our self talk and flood it instead with repeated positive statements!

Introduce The Positive:

So, in terms of eating disorder recovery, here are some examples to start using every day:

“I eat cake, burgers, Ben and Jerry’s, pizza, cheese and doughnuts!”

“I love my body and its curves and I would love it to be bigger”

“Eighteen months from now I will be recovered”

“I spend hours a day productively resting on my couch”

“I am simply awesome!”

And one to repeat several times an hour…

“I am ME and I am a SUPERHERO!!!”

Now, I know what you are thinking… Those things are not true.  Repeating those statements to myself – rationally I don’t believe them or perhaps I have still not eaten pizza in recovery…

That does not matter!!!

Your brain does not care what is true and what is not.

Your brain will believe what you tell it through your thoughts and language.

Flood it with positive statements without fear or judgement and without negativity and your brain will respond and become healthier and happier for you in return.  And what is more, your brain will start to change your internal beliefs about food or weight / shape.

We need to use simple, factual, positive statements with words that in now way imply that it is right to fear, judge, feel guilt or place a low value on ourselves or our actions.

Eradicate the Negative:

Now, having told you statements to start using, here are thought patterns you need to eradicate:

“I want to…”

“I will try to…”

“I aim to…”

“I hope to….”

You get the picture.

These thoughts are merely teaching the brain it is right to be scared, that you are not committed and they open the option of not following through with a positive recovery action.

Your language has to be positive, determined and present tense!

Flood your brain with positive language and you will soon believe how amazing you are, rocking your recovery, proud of your recovered body and feeling positive, laid back and relaxed around food… ultimately living your best life!!

As you become positive in yourself, you will also breed positivity in those around you.

So get setting yourself some positive thoughts to practice each day.

You will have to force it at first but the more you practice this, like any form of neural rewiring, the sooner your brain will start to feed positive thoughts and beliefs back to you automatically without conscious effort on your part.

Give it a go with some of the positive thoughts I have provided above because you do eat all the foods, you do love your body and will love it even more when it is bigger and you ARE a superhero!


I now work as a coach and mentor with people who are overcoming eating disorders, disordered eating or low body confidence. If you are interested in knowing more about my coaching work, then please take a look at my coaching website:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s