When you think about eating disorder recovery, do you wonder what it will really be like? Is it hard to imagine what life without an eating disorder really looks like? Do you ever wonder what you should expect of yourself once you’re recovered?
I remember having a difficult time picturing myself without an eating disorder. It becomes such a huge part of us that it only makes sense we would have a hard time seeing our lives without it. It’s difficult to think of what it would be like to eat healthy and not be drawn to food-related behaviors.
Does being recovered mean you won’t think about what you do or don’t eat anymore? Does it mean that you’ll never be tempted to turn to food-related behaviors again? Is it more of the same of what you’re experiencing now, but just less intense? Even when you’re recovered, will you still have to follow a meal plan, see a counselor or remain in a support group?
I personally believe that recovery can look a bit different to each of us. Just like there are differences in how we recover, there’s more than one way to live recovered. I also think that since this is a vulnerable area for us, we are wise to keep certain boundaries to help us remain recovered.
For me, when I obtained my meal plan, I didn’t want it to be something I followed temporarily; I wanted it to become a healthy eating habit. That’s just what happened. It isn’t that I eat only certain foods or that I even give it much thought anymore, but it was a good guideline for me that developed into a healthy habit.
For others, they may follow a meal plan more closely and avoid foods that were previously a problem for them for some reason, or they may not give much thought to what they are or are not eating. It isn’t a matter of right or wrong; it’s a matter of what works for each individual.
For me, I began journaling prior to the onset of the eating disorder, and I did a ton of journaling during my recovery. Even now, it’s nice to know that I can journal when I need to sort through thoughts and feelings.
For others, it may be through journaling or it may be through other avenues that they express and work through their emotions. But the key is that they’ve found what works for them instead of resorting to food-related behaviors.
For some, maybe food-related behaviors no longer have any appeal to them. Some, though, may struggle from time-to-time. However, these episodes are brief and don’t draw them back into the eating disorder. They can recognize what’s going on and get back on track. That doesn’t mean they aren’t recovered. The recovered life isn’t a perfect one, but eating disorder behaviors are no longer the norm and most of the time are not an issue.
For some, they may continue to find some situations challenging, but they feel more free to enjoy their lives. The eating disorder doesn’t stand in the way of making plans and spending time with others like it once did.
Once you’ve recovered, consider thanking God for freedom from your eating disorder as well as asking Him to help you always maintain this freedom.
Life is life regardless of whether someone has had an eating disorder. This means that there are going to be challenges, losses and disappointments. But for the person who has gained healthy coping skills through the recovery process, he/she can handle these circumstances in healthy ways. While recovery may look different from one person to another, the eating disorder is no longer in control. Whatever recovery looks like to you, it has to be better than remaining under the control of the eating disorder. Keep moving forward so you can enjoy what the recovered life has to offer you.
By Laurie Glass