Iffirmations and Atypical Anorexia
Suzanne Manser, PhD
Licensed Psychologist

Tool of the Day:

I don't know who came up with this tool, but I absolutely love it.

We’re all familiar with affirmations, statements in which you offer yourself regard and support. For example, telling yourself, “I am good enough.” Over time, and especially if paired with positive feeling, these affirmations eventually re-wire our brains. 

For many brains, it is really, really hard to take in an affirmation. The brain sees it as a threat and immediately rejects it as not possible. In this case, the re-wiring process can feel glacially slow.

Iffirmations are easier for the brain to consider because they come in a side door. They start with “What if….”

“What if I am good enough?” “What if I can do this really hard thing?” “What if things don’t go horribly, terribly wrong?” “What if I can handle it if they do?”

Iffirmations create possibilities. They don’t boldly state facts, so the brain is less likely to have an automatic, negative reaction to them. All an iffirmation is doing is pointing to a potential path that you can then choose to get on.

Common iffirmations:
“What if I don’t need to lose weight to feel good about myself?”
“What if I am loveable and worthy?”
“What if this job interview/date/conversation goes well?”
“What if I tried these new ideas and they are helpful?"

What iffirmation do you want to try?

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Eating Disorders Corner

“Food is not the enemy. Self-hate is.”
— TheLoveYourselfChallenge

 This corner is devoted to addressing eating disorders, disordered eating, and body image. I have specialized in treating people with all of the above since 1999. It is a large part of my work and my heart. This corner is for those of us on the journey of disconnecting our worth from our size or what we eat.

Atypical Anorexia

I want to put the spotlight on a not-yet-well-recognized disorder: Atypical Anorexia.

When most people think of Anorexia, they imagine an emaciated person who rarely eats. This is how it can look, but it is not the only way it can look.

A person with Anorexia may eat several times a day. A person with Anorexia may binge. And a person with Anorexia may not be thin.

Atypical Anorexia is when someone meets all of the diagnostic criteria for Anorexia (including restricting food intake, having a distorted view of their body size, and fearing gaining weight or being fat) but is not low weight.

As we know, two people can eat and exercise exactly the same and continue to have very different bodies. This is because our genetics (and other factors) contribute to our body size much more than our food intake. Which is to say, we are not all going to become very thin even if we are not eating enough.

People with Atypical Anorexia restrict their food intake to an unhealthy degree and, despite weight loss, do not get to a “thin” or “very thin” weight. They may be fat. Their weight doesn’t speak to their level of illness.

Unfortunately, most of us, the medical community included, have not learned about Atypical Anorexia. Those who suffer from it are frequently told by physicians that they can’t have an eating disorder and have nothing wrong, even if they complain of fainting and brain fog.

People are being harmed. Serious, chronic health issues are being dismissed because people don’t look thin enough to be sick. As a result, people are getting sicker instead of getting help. (If you know a physician, send them this article!)

Atypical Anorexia is as real, and as serious, as (typical) Anorexia. Size is not an indication of health.

 Check These Out

Already Enough: A Path to Self-Acceptance
by Lisa Olivera

Maintenance Phase, “The Trouble with Calories” edition

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vol. 2, issue 2

My intent with each issue of this newsletter is to bring more ease, self-acceptance, meaning, and fulfillment into our lives.
I share useful strategies, explanations, information, and resources that support the journey.  


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