One of the most common pitfalls in eating disorder and addiction recovery is called the Abstinence Violation Effect. It’s the response that we have after we slip that leads us to say, “Screw it!” It’s akin to getting a flat tire and deciding to slash all the tires and torch the car. We know reasonably that we could just change the tire, but our frustration, shame, disappointment, and non-acceptance of reality lead us to make the situation even worse.
This is an old diet drama story that we DO NOT need to repeat. This Holiday season, as you may be navigating some tricky food situations, it’s important to remember that you are human. Diet culture has led us to believe that we need to operate our food plan like robots. But that’s not how life works.
To do things differently this year, we need to think about the skill called Dialectical Abstinence, also known as your Anti-Perfection Plan. Here’s how it works- while we still want to aim for the gold (doing our plan to a T), we need to understand that there will be times where things don’t go as planned. These are the moments where we take a mindless bite of food or turn to food out of social pressure or to cope with our feelings. In these moments, we want to try to treat our slips with compassion and remind ourselves that it’s never too late to get back on plan!
Once we realize we’re in need of an Anti-Perfection Plan, we need to figure out what it will be! Every situation is different – and every person is different – so it’s important to reflect on what this looks like for you in your life. For example, you might find that taking a walk, calling up an accountability partner or a supportive friend, or taking some time for yourself to breathe and make an intention for the rest of the day are helpful skills in most situations! For many people, it’s helpful to think about the next step to take, and take it one step at a time (not getting too ahead of ourselves!).
Schedule some time for yourself this week to make an Anti-Perfection Plan, your Plan B, that you can have ready during a challenging time this week. List at least 2 things you can do to help you get back on track, and put it into action when you need it the most!
Using the Anti-Perfection Plan is a total game-changer in your relationship with food. Slips don’t become disasters, they just become moments for learning opportunities (for more on using your slips for learning opportunities, read the blog post here on making a corrective action plan).
Remember, we’re all doing the best we can. By turning our brain “on” there’s a lot of help, support, and answers for getting through a difficult situation without making it worse. You’ve got this!
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