Recovering from an eating disorder is not a linear path from suffering straight to recovery. The process takes time, and commitment, to change how an individual thinks about the relationship between food and their body.
Throughout the process of recovery, one must not only learn to listen to their body’s needs, but also must not give in to the negative thoughts that are typical of eating disorders. Food must return to its rightful place, as fuel, and eating a nutritious and well-balanced diet should be focused on. Our diet plays a pivotal role in both how we think, and how our body functions.
Recovery from an eating disorder is more than simply what fuel we put in our bodies. Individuals must work, and focus, on all aspects of life, such as being present with family and friends. Sharing meals, and being in social situations, are instances that can be triggering for those suffering from eating disorders; individuals can feel like they are losing control, reinforcing restrictive behaviors, and deepening their suffering.
Being vegetarian, or vegan, is acceptable. However, it is imperative that such ‘diets’ are not ‘wrapped up’ in your eating disorder. That is, an individual is not using vegetarianism or veganism as a means to restrict what they are ‘able’ to eat, especially in social situations. Sometimes in recovery an individual might overeat, because what they are eating tastes nice, and on the other hand, sometimes an individual might not eat enough, because they do not like it or are just not that hungry. It is okay to enjoy some foods more than others, but recovery is all about balance.
Relationships, sharing foods, and enjoying human company are essential parts of life, and it is important that individuals recovering from eating disorders understand eating disorders work hard to isolate the people they affect. Working through this, and remaining present in life, are important steps to recovery.
Ultimately, recovery is learning to enjoy life and its plethora of experiences. Eating, without calculating calories, worrying about what is in the food, or feeling guilt, as well as living in the moment and enjoying meaningful relationships allow us to enjoy our lives to the fullest extent.