7 Reminders for Those New to Eating Disorder Recovery

As I have been embarking on the recovery journey from anorexia nervosa for a few years now, certain sayings and concepts have stuck out to me as some of the most helpful things to remember when fighting an eating disorder. As the school year picks up, we get busier and it can be hard to focus on recovery. What I share below are simple reminders to keep handy amidst the changes this season. The battle is hard, not every day will go perfectly, but remember to never give up. Here’s some of what has helped me fight eating disorder thoughts and behaviors:

1. Initially, your anxiety might increase when you begin to eat more. 

For a long time I thought I was never going to be able to achieve recovery because I felt worse emotionally (and often times physically) when I chose to follow my meal plan. Thankfully, my dietitian let me know this is a normal part of the process for many people. The more we continue to eat adequately, the more the thoughts will decrease! As much as I didn’t believe that at one point, it actually was true for me.

2. The body uses a lot of energy simply to keep its “internals” working.

Believe it or not, humans in a coma need to consume food simply to stay alive and keep the organs running. Whenever I felt tempted to restrict calories, I remember that my body is using so much more energy than someone in a coma… and a lot of that energy is used for internal functions!

3. I can be OK, and life will go on no matter what I consume today.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t wait for us to quit our eating disordered behaviors before continuing on. For me, I decided that I did not want to waste time away from friends, family, gatherings, etc. because my eating disorder was ruling my life. I realized that even if I didn’t listen to my eating disorder, nothing bad that I feared would happen, actually happened. The sun still rose and set the next day.


4. It does the body more harm to restrict than it does to eat something that the eating disorder deems as “unhealthy.”

The eating disorder may hate to hear this, but eating even the “scariest” food is better for you than eating nothing at all. I guarantee it.

5. Food inherently does not have guilt, shame, anxiety or fear “in” it. 

The negative feelings around food is something the eating disorder attaches to it. Food is not the enemy, the eating disorder is.

6. Thoughts are not facts. 

I can have a thought (for example, an eating disordered thought) and decide not to act on it or can choose to do the opposite. We cannot choose what we think, but we can choose to react healthily to our negative thoughts.

7. I choose to do recovery for me!

This was probably the thing that kept me motivated the most during recovery. I could not seem to recover when I ate just to make other people happy. Rather, when I decided I would eat for my own well-being and enjoyment and because I want to live life fully. When I decided I wanted to live without having food be my main focus, recovery then became something more desirable and achievable.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo via anyaberkut

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