I utilize my own shared recovery experience to provide compassionate recovery care and empower clients to a life of health and wellness.
1. “Is eating disorder recovery even worth it? Recovery gives me more anxiety than my eating disorder.”
It’s completely normal to feel that life in recovery can be more challenging than life with an active eating disorder. That’s because eating disorder thoughts and behaviors allow you to numb out and focus on something else. In recovery, you are forced to confront and sit with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. It will feel worse before it feels better. But you will gain the coping skills to deal with the discomfort, and soon you will realize that full recovery is worth it. Food freedom is absolutely worth the uncomfortable process of eating disorder recovery.
2. “If anyone could hear the thoughts that go through my head every day, they would think I was crazy.”
I remember thinking this all the time-that nobody would ever understand the chaos that went on in my mind when it came to something that should have been so simple, like eating lunch. But you are not alone, 28.8 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. You aren’t crazy. Remember that you have a healthy self and an eating disorder self. Reframe every eating disorder thought with a healthy self thought. When you get to full recovery, you won’t hear the eating disorder thoughts anymore.
3. “I will never be able to stop counting calories.”
I know it feels like this now, but you weren’t born counting calories. The behavior is a habit driven by automatic negative thoughts. However, you can program positive thoughts, and old habits will die. But, it takes constant work and reframing. The next time you catch yourself mindlessly counting calories, say, “Nope, what matters now is that I am preparing a nourishing and satisfying meal for myself.”
4. “I know other people can achieve full recovery, I am just different. No one gets how differently my brain works.”
I would be willing to bet that every single person in eating disorder recovery has thought this at some point… “other people can recover, just not me. People don’t get how my brain works, I’ll never be able to change.” And, I even thought that too. But just because you think that, doesn’t make it true. I always say to my clients, “facts vs feelings.” You feel like you can’t recover, but that doesn’t make it a fact. The fact is that we all have the capability of making progress, changing our habits and beliefs, and eventually achieving full recovery. Everything changes when you start believing in yourself and taking action. No more negative self-talk!
5. “I don’t even know how I would want my future without my eating disorder to look.”
It’s okay if you don’t have an exact vision for how you want the future of full recovery to look, it’s only important that you know how you want to feel. Calm? Satisfied? Happy? Aligned? One of my favorite quotes is from Abraham Hicks, “The entire universe is conspiring to give you everything you want.” In other words, whatever you want to create is possible. So much of your future is informed by your own thoughts and feelings! Focus on feelings first and allow the specifics of recovered life to unfold naturally.
6. “I don’t even accept my body now, I am definitely not going to be able to accept it if I gain weight.”
I get it—learning to accept your “new” body during eating disorder recovery is probably the most common issue I help all my clients with. This body is not a “new” body. This body is kind of a superhero for surviving. This body deserves love and food. Throughout this process, you’ll learn that your restriction really wasn’t just about your weight or size. It was all the stuff that wasn’t your fault. Your worth is not your weight. Your worth is innate. Once you start feeding your brain it will make more sense to commit to living in a new way and nourishing yourself. The annoying eating disorder voice will go away and slowly you’ll accept the “new” healthier version of your body. This new body has perks too—like better moods, better sleep, more fun, and a lot more freedom.
7. “I must be doing something wrong. There is no way I am supposed to feel this uncomfortable in eating disorder recovery.”
Growth only happens outside your comfort zone. Recovering from an eating disorder will require you to step outside of the known, it will require you to be uncertain, and you will feel uncomfortable as a result. Not using your eating disorder behaviors will require sitting in the discomfort over and over again until you have replaced eating disorder behaviors with new, healthy coping skills. You WILL get through this…and if you’re uncomfortable, you’re doing it right.
8. “The extra calories just aren’t worth it.”
This is something I hear often from my clients when I start promoting the addition of fun foods and beverages or fear foods. Their fear-based reaction says “I don’t NEED the extra calories. I’m fine without it. That just wouldn’t be worth it to me.” My response is based in joy: “If you live your life questioning every bite, snack, or meal, are you really living? Or are you stripping away one simple pleasure at a time until nothing is ‘worth it’ anymore?” There is so much joy and healing to be found in food. The moments of getting ice cream with friends, grabbing coffee with colleagues, or random late-night pizza with roommates. Instead of asking yourself if it’s worth it to include all foods, ask yourself “Is it worth it to miss out on the joy from excluding them?” Start living for the little moments of joy and stop measuring your life’s worth in calories.
9. “My motivation is so low. I should just wait until I have more motivation to recover.”
STOP focusing so much on motivation. Motivation is unreliable, so let’s focus on creating MOMENTUM instead. How do we create momentum? Pick one realistic action item you want to commit to every day.
5 mins of journaling?
10 mins of reading?
30 mins of walking?
Pick one. Set the consistency you will commit to and schedule it on your calendar. Then, show up for yourself just like you would for someone else. At the end of the month, you’ll not only visualize the commitments you kept with yourself but you’ll feel the results. That’s how we build momentum, which turns into motivation.
10. “I just like being known as the ‘healthy one’ in my friend group and working out the most.”
At the end of your life, you won’t care that you ate the healthiest of everyone you know, endured the most intense workouts, or weighed the least of anybody in your friend group. You will want to say, “I lived my fullest life.” You are not here on earth to have the best abs, eat the least amount of carbs, or have the most intense workout routine. You are here to experience everything, to the fullest.
11. “Being skinny is who I am.”
You are not your body. And if any part of your life is dependent on being skinny, you may never live the full, authentic, happy life you deserve. Stop trying to shrink yourself to fit into clothes, a partnership, the popular group, a temporary job, or your family’s expectations. Stop using food as a weapon against your body. And please stop thinking that skinny automatically equates to health. Less of you won’t bring more happiness. You deserve more.
12. “It is definitely not normal to feel this emotional in recovery.”
Actually, it is completely normal to experience waves of emotions throughout recovery. Throughout your eating disorder, you used negative behaviors to help cope and numb you from the pain of feelings associated with anxiety, depression, shame, or trauma. When you begin to replace the unhealthy behaviors with new coping skills, you create space for the suppressed feelings. It is normal to experience mood swings as you get back in touch with yourself. In recovery, we work hard to increase self-awareness. Once we recognize our feelings, we can begin to understand our motivations and behaviors. Your feelings and emotions are crucial to recovery. If you are feeling emotional, then please know you are normal and on the path to recovery.
13. “I just know I will feel more confident when I lose weight.”
The confidence found in body checking, bathroom scales, and gym mirrors is fleeting. If you have to look somewhere outside of yourself, then it is temporary and doesn’t really belong to you. Confidence found in self-love does not magically appear overnight. It’s something you have to work on everyday-like anything else. I promise you that as long as you’re chasing the number on the scale, you will never be fully confident or fully you. Find the real you and know your power. I promise you that real confidence will never come from “reaching your goal weight” or being “more toned.” Confidence comes from knowing who you are at your core and how you show up in the world.
14. “I am just going to eat the foods I want on my cheat day and then be ‘healthier’ throughout the week.”
Cheat days are binge days. The label and the practice are disordered. The diet industry took the term “cheat day” from bodybuilders to use as a form of placing morality onto foods. Labeling some foods as so bad they can only be eaten on 1 day per week. The diet industry also knew that one day of binge eating after 6 days of restriction would lead to guilt, shame, and upset guts, practically forcing the person to return to their diet program or product. (Sneaky right?) Cheat days are a coping mechanism for severe restriction. They create a scarcity mindset leading your brain to believe you must eat as much as possible because tomorrow you may be starving. Restriction followed by cheat days ignores hunger cues and decreases emotional regulation. The practice is dangerous for the brain, gut, heart, and kidneys due to the severe swing of sugars and electrolytes. This disordered behavior can EASILY and quickly become a full-blown eating disorder. Regular balanced meals and treats that bring you joy throughout the week will decrease cravings and help maintain balanced moods. PSA: you can have dessert every night.
15. “I’ll never be able to maintain recovery after treatment. I am just going to relapse when I get home.”
The first thing you will need to do is assemble your outpatient team. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask providers in your area if they take your insurance, and if they don’t, ask for a referral. Many professionals WANT to help you get the support you need. Project Heal offers financial assistance. Apply for support on their website! I strongly encourage finding a weekly group to participate in. There are a number of virtual, free, eating disorder recovery groups. I also offer a teen support group on Monday evenings. Strong emotional bonding enhances brain changes! And you might even make a friend. Find a creative outlet that has nothing to do with your eating disorder. Take an art class, volunteer, or anything that inspires and challenges you, this will serve as a great distraction too so that you do not fall back into old habits. Create a new recovery vision board—this is *so* important. Remember to include pictures of future experiences you want to have, photos of friends and family, quotes that motivate you, words that inspire you, places you want to go, things you want to do, and maybe even fear foods! Keep this in your room where you can see the future you are creating. This reinforces the image in your brain and builds self-confidence.
Do you need help reframing eating disorder thoughts? That’s where I come in! Reach out here for 1:1 private eating disorder recovery coaching.