What is it?
Put simply, the eating disorder voice is a negative form of self-talk, or a person’s inner critic that is a part of their eating disorder. It refers to specific thoughts that are driven by, and can maintain, the eating disorder. It is both problematic and disruptive. The voice has been described by some as ‘toxic’.[i]
What does it do?
Initially, the voice may be experienced as a source of comfort, however it may rapidly push a person’s body and self-control to the extreme.
Aspects of the voice often emerge when individuals contact Bodywhys by phone, email and through the organisation’s support groups. For some people, it can feel as though they ‘must’ or ‘should’ do certain things as part of their eating disorder.
Dealing with the voice
Counteracting the voice can be a significant challenge. Professional support can be effective by developing a positive rapport to help to deal with the eating disorder voice mindset. Friends and family can also play a role. The voice may be present in the background, ready to jeopardise the progress an individual has made. Becoming free of the voice can feel stressful as a person may have previously experienced it as source of guidance. Moving forward may involve trying to separate out the person’s individual beliefs from those that are primarily driven by the eating disorder voice.
Examples of the eating disorder voice:[ii]
[i] Tierney, S. and Fox, J.R.E. (2011) Trapped in a toxic relationship: comparing the views of women living with anorexia nervosa to those experiencing domestic violence. Journal of Gender Studies, 20(1), 31-41.
[ii] Scott, N., Hanstock, T.L. & Thornton, C. (2014) Dysfunctional self-talk associated with eating disorder severity and symptomatology. Journal of Eating Disorders, 2(14).