NO ONE SAID EATING DISORDER RECOVERY WAS EASY
Eating disorder recovery is difficult, I’m not going to lie. Why? Because we’re usually going through it alone. We end up stuck inside our own heads, and it feels like no one can understand what we’re going through. I didn’t even realize I had an eating disorder until I looked back on my habits. You can read about how I thought my eating disorder was “healthy eating” here.
It is possible to heal.
I’ll assure you that eating disorder recovery is something real. I did it. It’s not a made up thing people talk about to make you feel depressed that “you’re not there yet”. I used to feel the exact same way when I saw people who “fixed themselves”. I felt broken, and I felt broken looking up to them. And while it can seem like an impossible task now, know that you can ALWAYS recover. No matter how far down you feel your journey is starting from, there’s always a way back up.
Trust me, even when people say they’re “in recovery” there’s always a little bit of a fight they have to put up in order to stay in that place of healing. Don’t let that fight be against yourself. Take the energy and redirect it, so you can use it to build you up rather than tear you down.
For example, even in eting disorder recovery “mode”, I always beat myself up over indulging in sweets at night. So you know what I did? I made myself dessert every night. Instead of feeling guilty for indulging, I made indulging in something sweet a part of my routine. And guess what? Since I made my own dessert, I was able to make a much healthier treat than if I rummaged through the pantry for a candy bar or scooped a bowl of ice cream from the freezer.
There’s no magic fix.
No one can give you a healing potion. I wish I had a magic wand that would make everything work out easily (my mom used to tell me this whenever I was sick when I was a little girl), but it’s just not that simple. The first reason is that healing is different for everyone. Just like you go to this place through your own choices, you’ll figure out how to get out of them with your own solutions.
Knowing your triggers is your secret weapon.
No one knows your journey better than you. Use it like a map. You know what situations tend to trigger your restrictive habits, so use that knowledge to prevent them from happening in the first place. Whether it’s learning to deal with stress with some deep-breathing exercises like this simple meditation, or something as simple as getting enough sleep, you are in control!
Healing is a delicate balance.
You’ll have days where everything seems to be working out 100% in your favor… And then sometimes it seems like you’re back to square one – that’s OKAY. You don’t have to have all of your sh** together all the time. It’s impossible. BUT, if you learn from the mistakes instead of punishing yourself for them, you’ll find the delicate balance that holds all the pieces of your eating disorder recovery together.
But you have to work for it.
Healing is a real thing… but you absolutely have to work for it. I know that recovery can be the most difficult part of any health journey, but it’s always worth it. I’m here now, in recovery, because I decided that my life was in my hands – and nothing can take that away from me, not even an eating disorder. I choose recovery every single day because I want to LOVE my body, not be at war with it.
With that said, here are 3 issues no one talks about with recovery…. and how you can start fixing them right now.
THE BIGGEST ISSUES NO ONE’S TALKING ABOUT
1. There’s no one-size-fits-all recovery plan.
Like I mentioned above, you get to this place through your own choices, and you’ll get out of here with your own solutions. There’s no solution to healing an eating disorder that works for everyone. It just doesn’t work that way. If people made you feel bad because their strategies didn’t work… I’m so sorry!
While it can be overwhelming to know there isn’t one definitive answer, it’s also empowering. That means YOU have the power to heal yourself. You’re the boss of your choices – not your eating disorder.
So what do you do?
- You start listening to your body – Ask yourself, “what the heck do I want to eat?” I found out I was eating for “health” and never eating the simplest things that I’d enjoy, like pancakes. Making healthier versions of pancakes was something that helped me feel like food could be healthy – and satisfying.
- You seek out help from someone who’ll listen with compassion – a friend, a family member, a guidance counselor… talk to someone who you can trust to be a good listener. I’m a health coach, so if you want to work with me you can just send me an email here 🙂 But, if you can’t heal just by talking to someone, seek out someone trained in eating disorders who can help treat your ED, like a specialist or trained medical professional.
- You create healthy habits, that also make you happy – that means you find the balance you lost. Instead of constantly striving to be the healthiest person, strive to be the happiest person. In the long run, being happy absolutely helps keep you healthy.
2. You’re always hungry.
I was honestly a bottomless pit for a year. Yes, I did gain some weight. Will you? I don’t know. We’re different people. Like I said above, there’s no one thing that everyone can do to get results… and most of the time we have different ideas of what “results” are. But… if you’re always hungry, just trust that it’s okay.
If you fuel yourself with high-quality foods (not tons of processed foods) then your hunger will be able to level out as your hormones re-balance.
Personally, that meant I still ate lots of vegetables, but I no longer restricted myself from eating carbs (since I was eating low carb at the time). That meant I added lots of sweet potatoes, squashes, fruit, and rice back into my diet. This gave me the energy I was lacking – and eventually healed my fatigue. At the same time as adding in extra carbs, I also dialed back my workouts and allowed myself to indulge more. It was super hard to find the balance and I did binge eat to cope with it all. But, I healed, and now I’m here 🙂
3. You constantly feel guilty about what you eat.
Even if you eat “healthy”, there can be some underlying feeling of guilt. Learning to cope with this feeling can be one of the most challenging things of all. The best way to deal with the guilt is to break restrictive eating habits. Learn new habits that allow you to indulge without feeling like everything you’ve worked so hard for is thrown out of the window.
I always felt guilty about dessert…
But now I make it a point to indulge when I want. It’s all about your approach. If you turn food into the enemy, you’re always going to feel that eating is a negative experience.
4. You’re struggling with anxiety.
Similar to feeling guilty, you might be feeling anxious while you’re in eating disorder recovery “mode”. The best way to deal with anxiety is not to treat it, but to figure out the best ways for you to remove stress from your life. The anxiety around food is usually not solely because of food…. There are underlying reasons that leak out into our eating habits… so solving those issues first is key.
3 ways to immediately reduce anxiety:
- Turn off the tech – Avoid comparing yourself to others based on their photos, it only drains your ability to feel comfortable in your own skin. Read more about dealing with social media here.
- Find a simple meditation or yoga practice – it doesn’t have to be extreme, but 2 minutes here and 5 minutes there can make BIG differences. Moving your body helps change your mindset because the freeing feeling from movement helps you get “unstuck” from what you’re thinking or feeling.
- Get a little (real life) social – Be more social with friends and family, so you physically can’t be alone as often. It boosts your feel-good hormones to be with others, and bonus points if you laugh and enjoy yourself!
5 TIPS TO OVERCOME THE ISSUES WITH EATING DISORDER RECOVERY
1. Rethink healthy food.
You don’t have to rely on “food rules” to be healthy. What makes you feel good? What’s the balance between eating healthy and indulging that gives you the energy you need to go after what you love? The simplest way to find out the answer is to rethink what healthy means to you.
2. Let people in.
Whether it’s your best friend, your parents, or a professional, you need to talk to someone about what’s going on. There’s power in numbers… You don’t have to fight alone.
3. Forgive yourself.
No matter what you do, forgive yourself. You’re human! You’re NOT perfect… there’s just no such thing. You won’t be stuck here in eating disorder recovery “mode” forever. Take every moment as something new, and do your best to live in the present.
4. Find passion outside of food.
If all you do is think about food, you’ll find yourself back in restrictive habits. Look beyond food and find things that you’re passionate about to shift your focus. Drawing? Teaching? Hiking? That way you can set goals that make you feel amazing, that have nothing to do with food.
5. Stop looking in the mirror so dang much.
You’re beautiful. You don’t need to constantly use the mirror to tear apart your body image. The mirror is not a tool to criticize yourself. Until you’re ready to look without harsh judgment, skip the standing in front of the mirror time or at least give yourself a time limit and make an effort to ignore the negative thoughts.
TAKEAWAY: EATING DISORDER RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE
There’s more to eating disorder recovery than everyone talks about, but you DO have the power to overcome the challenges! It’s only a matter of creating a game plan, getting the support you need, and being patient with yourself 🙂