Eating Disorder Recovery is possible. There is no magic pill one can take, however, to change from a life of dieting, restricting food intake, bulimia, and anorexia. In addition, recovery is not limited to remission from unhealthy behaviors related to food. People also have to recover from the underlying reasons for the behaviors. The causes for developing an eating disorder are complex and varied: from anxiety to body shaming, being the perfect child to having the perfect body. Athletes, high achievers as well as everyday people are affected by eating disorders; adolescents and adults alike.
Eating Disorders Recovery Is Challenging
Many people try to stop on their own and find that eating disorders are very persistent addictions. Like other addictions, it's virtually impossible to stop without help. Yes, they are within the definition of a chronic relapsing brain disease which is the same as other addictions. The symptoms are similar to other addictions, too. Those who struggle with eating disorders are obsessed by eating, or not eating, or bingeing, or throwing up. They have similar symptoms to other addictions which include lying about it, hiding it; craving their behavior; being unable to stop despite negative consequences and even risk of death.
Eating Disorder Recovery is possible, however. Each person's recovery is different. Some people require therapy, a physician, a food coach or nutritionist, the support of family and new friends, as well as a 12 step program. Overeaters Anonymous is one. All of these components are necessary for dealing with an eating disorder and conquering it.
Here are the 7 components for an Eating Disorder Recovery
- Forgive Yourself When you take on the responsibility for your recovery, you have to love yourself even when you're not happy with yourself. You deserve a life well lived. Through the ups and downs of life lived in recovery, it's vital to be able to forgive yourself when you had a bad day, or a bad week. Know yourself and practice rest and forgiveness when feeling HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. Always remind yourself that you are perfect in your imperfection.
- Nourish Your Soul – your body and brain ought never feel deprived, if they do you are risking your recovery. Think of ways to nourish yourself beyond the physical component. While we nourish our bodies with food, our minds and hearts need to be cared for as well. Talk to your therapist about obsessive thinking, talk to a program buddy, and discuss your discomfort.
- Think Team Effort – no one person is able to give you the key to a healthy recovery, it takes a village. Surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable. A dietician that will help navigate your food plan, and a physician to monitor your medical progress. Seek a therapist you can connect with. Find a local ED group for a group support.
- Engage Family and Friends – while you have your medical and clinical team ready to support your recovery efforts, have you thought about how to reach the people who love you? Family, Friends, and acquaintances? FOMO (fear of missing out) is real, do not Isolate yourself when feeling low or when you want to reach for food. let them know how you feel.
- Get Honest and Be Honest Honesty is the key to successful recovery. Eating Disorders, and all addictions, thrive in secrecy. Only by being honest can you overcome ED. Being honest with family members and friends may keep you motivated to keep on a healthy track with your food plan.
- Be Aware Of The Challenge ED is a cunning and baffling disease just like any other addiction. It will not let you go until you admit that your eating disorder helped you cope with life’s challenges until it didn’t. Being aware that ED is a complex disease of the body mind and soul will help you replace old habits with new ones. Practice the new habits over and over until they become ingrained in you and you have replaced the old habits with new ones.
- Define Your New Identity Eating disorders is a disease that’s consistent with one’s sense of self. If you are a binger, you relate to that part of yourself. If you're a restricter, you have to be thin. Recovery will require a new way to think about yourself. In recovery, you are establishing new routines. At times, it may feel like giving up part of your identity, a facade that you held on for a very long time. Rediscovering your sense of self is key to maintaining your abstinence from eating disorder behaviors. In defining your new identity, having friends, a group, your family and program support your efforts will help if you have moments of feeling lost.
If you need help with an Eating Disorder, check out Recovery Guidance for a free resource to find professionals near you.