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17 'Little Signs' You're Recovering From an Eating Disorder


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 741741.

Recovering from an eating disorder isn’t always a linear process. Sometimes, you can easily envision your life without an eating disorder, making you hopeful and excited for the future. Other times, it can be difficult to actively choose recovery. On the hardest days, though, progress can be made through even the smallest of steps forward.

A phrase that helped me (and continues to help me) through eating disorder recovery is, “Recovery doesn’t work like a light switch.” I didn’t wake up one day with an eating disorder, so recovery won’t happen overnight. I was often hard on myself for not making as much progress in my recovery as I hoped I would. I was afraid I would be stuck in the grasp of my eating disorder forever. But something I began to notice were the “little signs” of recovery. Trying new foods. Going out for lunch with friends. Cancelling my gym membership. These signs may feel like small steps, but in eating disorder recovery, they’re equivalent to jumping over the highest of hurdles.

We wanted to know what “little signs” have let people who live — or have lived with — an eating disorder know they were beginning to recover, so we asked our mental health community to share their experiences. Recovery from an eating disorder is possible. If you’ve experienced any of these “little signs” of recovery, be proud of yourself. You are so worthy.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

  1. “Hunger pains. For the first time in a long time my body was telling me what it needed. I was hungry. It was a scary feeling but also a glorious feeling that there was hope.” — Maura B.
  2. “When I started recovering, I noticed I was able to pay attention to the people I was eating with rather than what I was eating.” — Kymber W.
  3. The constant need to weigh myself became less and less.” — Shannon M.
  4. “Eating in front of people. During my eating disorder, I was too ashamed to eat in front of anyone.” — DM W.
  5. “When eating wasn’t accompanied with anxiety. I used to eat and my heart would race and my mind would spin. I was a wreck.” — Kara N.
  6. “I stop carving the attention of others comments about my weight. I used to love when people would say, ‘You’re too skinny! You look sick!’ When I started to get better, I didn’t crave those words.” — Madison D.
  7. “I realized my body could do more than lose and gain weight. Seems like common sense to anyone without an eating disorder, but it was truly mind blowing to me to realize it had kept me alive for over 20 years. Our bodies are amazing!” — Melissa A.
  8. “The clearest sign to me was being able to discuss it with my loved ones. When you keep it a secret, nobody can help you get better. Telling people meant I wanted to overcome it and be healthier again.” — Brittany B.
  9. “Being able to stand in front of a mirror and not being ashamed of my body.” –Cori J.
  10. “I discovered I liked sour cream. I would only eat it on raw veggies, then added meat with it and so on. It took a year, but I won.” — Kathi F.
  11. “I used to eat alone so I could make myself sick right after or avoid eating foods. I started to recover when I noticed that my boyfriend and I started to eat together.” — Genkidama K.
  12. “One of my clues that I was getting over binge eating was when I could buy a box of my favorite cookies and have it last more than a single sitting.” — Emily C.
  13. “When I no longer started to sweat when certain foods were placed in front of me. Every time I feel less anxious around food is also a tiny step for me!” — Ashley N.
  14. “Not thinking about food 24/7.” — Amy R.
  15. “Replying with a genuine, ‘Thank you,’ when people told me I looked healthy –the word I used to fear most — and buying clothes that I couldn’t hide in.” — Abigail M.
  16. “I was out with some friends and there was food at the table for everyone to grab what they wanted. I used to always say that I wasn’t hungry, but this time, I unconsciously grabbed some fries and ate them naturally.” — Erika S.
  17. “I worry less and less about how I look.” — Bri F.

What would you add? Let us know in the comment below.

Photo via GettyImages