Eating Disorders and DBT: A New Relationship with Food

Eating Disorders and DBT: A New Relationship with Food

I’d like to introduce you to Rebecca Sculley, who is a Licensed Professional Counselor and an EDIT™ Certified III – Eating Disorder Treatment Clinician. I supervised Rebecca while she was working towards licensure, and co-facilitated some of her first DBT Skills Groups. She is a knowledgeable and compassionate therapist, who is passionate about helping people thrive during life transitions. Rebecca currently meets with clients at her offices in Boulder and Denver, Colorado. To contact Rebecca, please see the bottom of article.
– Dr. Dorie

Eating disorders and DBT skills can go hand-in-hand – to find a new relationship with food. We often think of spring as a time for new growth – flowers are blooming, trees are blossoming, and life begins anew. We can relate this to our relationship to food – making new choices, feeling rejuvenated and getting a fresh start in recovery. However, every so often we’ll be in the midst of powerful changes with a spring-like attitude – then a massive snow storm will occur, and we feel discouraged and set back! Exploring eating disorders and DBT skills – with the DBT skill called Radical Acceptance – you can accept where you are, change your attitude, and move forward in a healthy and powerful way!

Radical Acceptance means to look at your life in a new way. Instead of striving for perfectionism, why not strive for being healthy and giving yourself permission to feel the way you feel, even on a gloomy day. Let’s say you have been making healthy eating choices and making changes in your relationship with food, then something stressful happens, or it’s snowing out, or you feel sad or lonely and you decide to binge eat. DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP! Instead try these four Radical Acceptance steps:

1. What was your role in what happened?
2. What was another person or situation’s role in what happened?
3. Accept what happened, even if you don’t like it, but realize that you can’t change the past.
4. Find a healthy coping skill to combat the pain.

Also, realize that you have the POWER to make a new choice next time and it does not do any good to punish yourself for something you may have done differently. When you beat yourself up the chances are high that you will repeat the same pattern over and over again.

Here’s an example of how eating disorders and DBT skills may work. Christine was feeling healthy and strong for a few weeks, she had been eating healthy foods while still giving herself permission to enjoy the foods that she loved. She had not over eaten or binged in 3 weeks, this was a huge success! She loves the spring time and was sick of being cold this winter, she realized that she had some symptoms of seasonal depression and often coped by over eating until the point that she was physically sick. So, when it snowed last time after having beautiful weather for weeks she became sad, lonely and felt hopeless. She turned to binging again for comfort and relief. However what really happened was that Christine beat herself up and the binge eating made it worse. She then thought of Radical Acceptance. She told herself that she knows the signs when she could be tempted to binge, in this case it was snowy weather. She then thought of three healthy choices she could have made instead to cope with sadness; call a friend, watch a funny movie or take a hot bath with lots of bubbles. She knows that in the moment it may not be as an instantly gratifying as over eating, but that in the long run the other three choices were much better for her physical and emotionally health. The accepted that she had had a slight set back, but that doesn’t stop her from still trying and moving forward. She did not punish herself. She accepted that she is not always “perfect” and loves herself either way.

Don’t let the spring snow (or rain or hail) get you down. Find your own eating disorders and DBT skills application, and accept yourself in whatever stage you are in!


Looking for guidance with DBT SKILLS? Contact Rebecca Sculley, MA, NCC, LPC – the author of this blog article. She is an EDIT™ Certified III – Eating Disorder Treatment Clinician, and has a specialty in DBT Skills. Rebecca has office locations in Boulder and Denver, Colorado. – EMAIL REBECCA 

Interested in a FREE consultation with Dr. Dorie? Dr. Dorie is passionate about her method of Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)™ to help people overcome eating disorders and addictions.  She provides customized counseling for eating disorders and alcohol / drug addiction at her Positive Pathways treatment center in Evergreen, Colorado – and EDIT™ eating disorder training and certification for coaches and clinicians worldwide. CALL 303-494-1975EMAIL DR. DORIE