How I’m Learning to Feed My Body in Eating Disorder Recovery

Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

I feel a bit sorry for myself today — and it’s not just because I lied. While I make all attempts to be a transparent person, there are times that I keep my own secrets. If I think others will “know” and see through me.

The reason I feel sorry for myself is that this week, I have joined a commercialized group for weight loss. One of the things I have to do if I want to remain in the group is to keep a food diary. Today I sat down to make a note all that had passed my lips. Food panic gripped me. I had clearly eaten too much. Far from losing weight, I would surely gain it. I quickly sent a text message to my best friend to report that I had messed up day one. She tells me not to worry. As far as she can see, my food diary reported a reasonable adult intake and I had not broken the group guidelines.

I thought, So, this is what people eat every single day.

And then it hit me and now I feel sorry for myself because for all these years I have punished myself with starvation for what now appears little discernible reason and worse, that probably has led to me where I am now, living one of my worst fears – living overweight.

The reason I had to lie is that when the nice lady who runs the group asked me, “Do you have a history of eating disorder?” I knew what she meant was, “If you have a history of eating disorder, you are not welcome here, with us.”

But it was only a white lie because really what she was asking was, “Has a doctor ever labelled you with an eating disorder diagnosis?” and no, they have not. I am insightful enough to recognize however that my relationship with food is disordered.

I do not eat often. This has gone on for so long that I no longer recognize hunger feelings. I am more likely to believe I am sick than feeling faint from lack of sustenance. And like any human deprived, when I eat, I eat. Binge is the proper term. This has probably led me to evading medical assessment. That and my ability to know when I need and to ask for help.

And what have I done to myself?

I have risked deranging my body’s natural hormone production, damage to my cardiac system, literally risked my inner rhythm. I will probably be told in a few years that my bones are brittle. I am lucky I have my own hair and teeth.

But this is not a time for self-pity. This is my time to listen and learn what I need to feed my body to allow it to function. I am sorry to my physical self for punishing it for so long and grateful for the extra work it has been doing to get me thus far.

I have learned that as adults, what we say to children they will say to their adult selves for years ahead.

I have learned that no matter how you feel about your body, you have to feed it.

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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