Top 8 reasons to Recover from Your Eating Disorder

by Pam Minichiello, LMHC

No recovered individual ever said they would like their eating disorder back!  But we know that more often than not, recovery comes with trepidation and ambivalence.  So then, why should you recover? Here’s eight great reasons to make the first or next step in recovery:

  1. You will not be thinking about food all day long.

You will not be thinking about food, weight, etc. all day long.  Little by little parts of your day will be given back to you!  You will no longer be worrying constantly about what you look like, what you did or did not eat, what you should have / shouldn’t have eaten, how many calories is in a fill-in-the-blank, or questioning whether you deserve to eat a tasty food.  Instead, you will feel the freedom of thinking about food in a non-charged way.  If you have been restricting your intake, your brain becomes wired to think about food. When you restore a balanced relationship with food in your life, your brain will let up its obsession around food. So, when you are recovered, eating disorder thoughts will no longer be your constant companions.  Moreover, you *will not* lack for things to do or to think about.  On the contrary, recovery gives you back time and you will be free to use this to think about and do things that are important in your life – like work and play and friends and your bucket list and loved ones and music and your next vacation and hopes and dreams, and . . . etc.  

  1. You can go out to dinner with friends or family.

When someone asks you to join them for dinner out, you can remain relaxed. It will be just an invitation like any other and you will be able to decide to go based on what you really feel like doing, not what your eating disorder thoughts tell you to do. When you go to a restaurant, you will be able to choose from the menu what you want without anxiety or feeling compelled to adhere to some disordered food rules. 

  1. You will no longer be worried or afraid of food.

You won’t fear becoming “out of control” with a particular food you like nor will you use food to create some sense of predictability or control in your life.  It will feel OK to want to eat all kinds of foods and you’ll know this as normal for you!  Kale, potato chips, raspberries, mac-n-cheese, apples, sauces, ice cream –  any of them! There will no longer be good and bad or right and wrong foods in your life.  All foods that you like can be part of your “plate”.  You will be able to eat what you truly feel like having and not suffer, compensate, or perseverate over it afterwards.  In other words, food will take its proper place in your day. 

  1. You can go to the beach if you want.

Assuming you live near a beach of course, you can decide to go to the beach without obsessing over what you *can* wear, worrying how you imagine others will judge you, or spending inordinate amounts of time planning how you can possibly hide or disguise your body.  You can also dance if you want and wear what you want!  Yes, really.  And If you become nervous with the idea of meeting new people, the anxiety won’t be because you’re ruminating over what possible negative things they could think about your body.

  1. You will be able to have in-the-moment conversations with people!

And you will not miss the absence of that old background monologue loop interfering with authentically connecting with your loved ones, co-workers, and other humans in your life.

  1. Exercise will not be a rule or a requirement or fill you with feelings of guilt.

You’ll have no need to exercise some minimal amount or reach some arbitrary time or calorie burn, etc.   You will be able to balance your activity, especially being free to choose the activities you enjoy and that make your heart sing! You will also not think of exercise as a way of earning food or as a means of “fixing” what you have eaten. 

  1. Your body image and weight will not ruin your day, your week, or your life.

This may be difficult to believe right now, but you can get to a place of truly liking and accepting yourself and go about your day, even on days you don’t feel you look your best.  You will not have the need to know a number on the scale in order to know whether you are “OK” or to determine how to go about your day. The time you will not be spending comparing yourself negatively to others, you will have to live, connect, sleep, study, laugh, explore. . .  Ummm, you get the point. 

  1. You will no longer wonder who you will be without your eating disorder.

It’s true, that at first you may miss your eating disorder.  Like a comfortable and reliable friend, you may need time to grieve the dependable sense of temporary relief your symptoms provide.  It’s difficult to give up patterns which helped you manage in important ways.  At the same time, as you work to let go of more and more of your eating disorder, you will notice the authentic you beginning to emerge and you’ll begin to feel more and more like the skin you belong in.   You will also feel in your very being, that your worth is not based on your appearance, your weight, the size of your jeans, your choice of foods, or how much you exercise.  Yes, this is really true.  

No doubt, the journey to recovery is hard and is often bumpy. Remember though, this eating disorder that kind of chose you? . . . It did not develop overnight, and so recovery will likely not be a simple project you can just check off your To-Do List.  It may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But the truth is, you are strong, and you so deserve a recovered life!    Don’t give up on you.  I know I won’t.