My downfall in my eating disorder recovery comes from thinking that I can just hold onto my eating disorder “a little bit.” I can still get better while somehow controlling my weight. I can get better and restrict just a little. I can refrain from certain food groups here and there.
Doesn’t that sound fun? That was 100% sarcasm, by the way. That way of living is the opposite of fun! A full life doesn’t include fear of eating, constant terror of weight change, refusing to go to parties or attend holiday meals, and avoiding birthday cake.
That thinking keeps me stuck because settling for anything less than a full recovery is not what I want to fight for. And like I mentioned in my Healthline article, limiting entire food groups for any eating disorder is incredibly problematic as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are almost always rooted in restriction, or feeling guilt or fear around eating. Abstaining from food groups either leaves you feeling as though you have no control around that food group or that you want to avoid it completely.
But I don’t feel ok about my weight going up. Every day is a huge battle not to go back to starving myself and as my weight climbs back up, it gets increasingly more uncomfortable. But I have 3 options:
1. Go back to my eating disorder. It’s familiar and comfortable. Yup, I’ll lose weight. I might feel just a tad less shame & discomfort in my skin but you know what else will happen? I’ll have no damn life. I will be terrified of eating in fear of my weight going up. I will continue to lose additional years to my eating disorder; isolating and being completely alone to avoid being around food at all costs. I will lose the weight and I will lose literally everything else. My physical and mental health, relationships, and anything worth living for. All to stay smaller. Is it worth it? My eating disorder says yes but my eating disorder has also taken 20 years from me that I can never get back.
2. I can do quasi, half-assed eating disorder recovery or what I said earlier; holding onto bits and pieces of my eating disorder. That would look like what I did for a few years where I ate but still with a ton of rigidity and anxiety. I still avoided many social events and cool travel opportunities. I was “healthy” but let’s be real – it was pretty orthorexic. Obsessing about health and being unable to be flexible is STILL not living. Was I eating enough to keep me alive and functioning? Yes. Was I purging significantly less? Sure. But it was still a shit way to live – being in constant fear of weight gain and trying to control my body from going to its naturally larger place.
3. I continue to work toward eating disorder recovery. REAL recovery where I eat all food groups, go out to restaurants and order normal food, eat dessert because that’s a yummy part of life, exercise only because it’s good for me and not compensation for eating and basically just LIVE. You know what’ll likely happen? My weight will continue to creep up. I hate that my body does that but my alternative is losing another 20 years to my eating disorder if it doesn’t kill me before that. But I’m working hard to give recovery a real shot because being smaller did not actually make me happier. It landed me in treatment twice in one year.
If you’re struggling with disorder eating or an eating disorder, I hope you join me in fighting for a truly full life; a life that includes the ability to honor your hunger, food preferences, and cravings, a life that includes partaking and connecting in social situations involving food, and a life where we can let go of trying to control our bodies above all else. We are meant for so much more than a lifetime of trying to control our weight!
Photos thanks to the Christine Skari (instagram here).
My denim jacket says “I just don’t want to look back and think “I could’ve eaten that.” I had it customized for me at a holiday press event at Aerie but I’m linking to some of my favorite denim jackets in the slideshow below.