Recovery from an eating disorder is a lot of gray area–and for people with eating disorders (or a lot of people in general, really) gray area is terrifying. I’m a graduate student studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and my own recovery from an eating disorder has inspired me to be an eating disorder therapist.
Throughout my time in recovery, I’ve learned a lot about myself, but I’ve also learned a lot about eating disorder recovery in general.
Recovery is tough no matter how you go about it, and as I’ve spent more time making peace with food and body and learning how to best support those on the same journey, I’ve come to realize that people often see recovery as something extremely black and white.
Now to me, being recovered looks like free eating, no food rules, enjoying food, eating all foods because I can trust my body to crave what it needs, and recognizing that my body is only a part of my life. Recovery also means staying active in fun ways and having a good relationship with exercise, not forcing yourself to go the gym because you’re afraid of what will happen if you don’t.
I’ve thought for a long time about starting a blog or an Instagram or something of the sort to not only help myself, but to hopefully validate the notion that RECOVERY IS CONFUSING for everyone.
In talking with a friend the other day, we started discussing the fact that your eating disorder’s perfectionism can find it’s way into recovery and pressure you to have the *perfect* recovery. Basically, this means that some of us feel pressured to be eating “healthy” all the time, and constantly proclaim on every platform imaginable that we LOVE kale and LOOK we are going to the gym because we are HEALTHY. Diet culture can really try to sneak it’s way into recovery, and that’s a huge recovery hurdle.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t really like kale. If it’s in a smoothie, sure. But I am never going to be one of those people going out of my way to eat/buy/think about kale. Broccoli is a different story…I find it delicious.
What I’m trying to say is that recovery looks different for everyone, and I think diet culture has shaped recovery into this weird, competitive thing that can sometimes be just as unhealthy as your disorder itself.
I like to think of eating disorders/disordered eating/dieting can fall on a spectrum. I imagine it to look something like this.
I’m not sure how many people truly exist without any food rules or disordered thoughts about food/exercise/diet. I hope for their sake that they’re out there somewhere, but mostly everyone I know falls on this spectrum somewhere in the middle. This isn’t to say that every single person on this planet has an ED or a problem, it means that it’s really SUPER hard to live in this society and not have any thoughts about if you’re eating “healthy” or not, if you’re staying “active enough,” and how “attractive” your body is.
I’d even go as far as to say that the “dieting” section on the above spectrum is pretty disordered. Most people diet to feel better about themselves in one way or another, which, when you think about it, feels eerily similar to the reasons people might develop an ED.
This blog, and the instagram (@feedmerecovery) I started along with it, will hopefully be a way for me to reflect on my own recovery as well as grow as a future clinician, and document the joys of intuitive eating. I also hope that this blog and my Instagram will help show people how tricky navigating this world can be. Recovery isn’t perfect, I don’t like smoothie bowls, and my body is fine just the way it is.