Eating disorder recovery looks different for every person going through it. It can be a complicated, overwhelming, and non-linear journey.
We wanted to take a moment to share our thoughts with you as eating disorder dietitians and let you know that it’s okay to struggle during recovery. But you don’t have to go through this alone!
Recovery is possible. Peace is possible. If ANY of this article resonates with you, we highly encourage you to reach out to us to learn more about how we can support you. Now let’s get into the article!
If you haven’t already, check out our article on what a disordered eating patterns looks like.
You dream of recovery, why does it feel so intimidating?
You have a friend, a best friend, who you have known and grown closer to over time. This friendship at first seemed to make life a little easier but now it seems this friend wants more and more control over your life and your free time.
Your friend asks you to do things you didn’t do before and encourages you to be someone you’re not. Over time it becomes harder to decipher your own wants and needs because your friend demands nearly all of your time and attention. You might recognize this friendship as toxic, but what do you do next?
You two have become so close, the thought of letting them go is scary even though a piece of you is longing to get your life back.
What if this “friend” is your eating disorder?
Pursuing recovery is not easy. It comes with a series of mental and physical challenges and pushes you out of your comfort zone. Whether you have lived with your eating disorder for weeks, months, or years the thought of letting this part of you go is scary and it is understandable if you don’t feel that you’re ready for it.
Saying goodbye to a friend is hard, but healing your relationship with food and your body opens a new world of possibilities for joy and fulfillment.
Recovery is possible. Freedom is possible. Peace is possible.
Not only is it possible, but it is so incredibly WORTH IT. You deserve to live a life that isn’t governed by what you see in the mirror, the calories on your plate, or the number on a scale. You deserve to leave any toxic relationship that is no longer serving you.
Developing an eating disorder is not a sign of weakness or insecurity and it’s rarely caused by a single person or event.
Eating disorders are a mental illness that affects all genders, ages, and ethnicities. Although there is no concrete cause, environmental, biological, and genetic factors all play a role in their development.
It can feel incredibly isolating to suffer from an ED but it can be helpful to recognize that an estimated 28 million Americans will have a diagnosed eating disorder in their lifetime with an even larger population suffering from undiagnosed disorders. You are not alone in the struggle, nor do you have to be alone in the recovery.
Let’s be honest, you may know all of this rationally. You may recognize the patterns, understand what you deserve, and acknowledge some of the steps to get there.
So why does the mountain still seem insurmountable?
Because you aren’t just changing behaviors. You aren’t just eating more. You aren’t just challenging fear foods and relearning your body’s signals.
As eating disorder dietitians, we address and assist in these behaviors but we recognize they are not the only issues at hand. You are losing a part of yourself and, although it is a toxic, controlling, and draining part, the loss is still palpable.
It is completely normal to experience an identity crisis in eating disorder recovery.
It can be uncomfortable but it is a beautiful sign that you are getting closer to becoming your true self. The self that is leaving that toxic friendship, and all the space it takes up, behind and allowing true passions to fill that space.
You’ll come to realize your identity never was your eating disorder and you’re better able to connect with the vast array of passions, talents, and quirks that make you YOU. Movement no longer has to be a punishment but something that can be pleasurable and joyous.
Without the preoccupations with food and body concerns you are able to be more present with friends and families and your relationships often become stronger. Over time, you learn that the foreign vessel you were living in before is actually a beautiful and safe home.
When you are no longer at war with your body you are able to better understand and appreciate its wants and needs. Becoming in tune with hunger and fullness cues allows you to eat more intuitively and recognize what foods you actually like and what feels good.
ED Recovery: The Takeaway
Losing the relationship between you and your eating disorder may feel uncomfortable but knowing that peace and freedom are waiting to fill this space makes the “loss” easier.
You are ready for and fully capable of recovery. Your body is waiting for you to come home.
If there is any additional support that you need, please please reach out to us today. We are here to support you and guide you through your eating disorder recovery. Contact us today through our services page to learn more!
Written by Emily Adkisson, RDN