Oct. 4, 2023, noon
I am writing this from the perspective of someone who is recovering from a long-standing eating disorder (ED). Like some with an ED, restriction has been one of the behaviours I have had to overcome in my recovery. I have had to learn how to eat again and believe that I still ‘deserve’ to eat even though I’m no longer exercising to exhaustion. I have had to learn how to fill up my energy stores again, and that rest days from exercise are both needed and necessary. I have had to learn to deal with very strong urges telling me, ‘just this once, restrict your snack’; or ‘just this once, you don’t need lunch today’ when in reality, I did need my snack, and I did need my lunch not just on those days, but every day.
What I have also learned is that these urges don’t just happen once. For me, they have some way of coming back, often when I least expect it. They can show up in ways that I’m not fully aware of either. For example, I may be talking with someone who knows about my ED and say, “I don’t need to finish this”, fully believing the ED voice inside telling me so. Thankfully, they know that I in fact do need to finish this and point that out to me. When I’m not with someone who knows about my ED, I do find it more difficult to recognize these triggered thoughts and behaviours in these kinds of situations. However, what I also find is that I often have a deep-down sense that something isn’t right with what I’m doing or thinking. In those moments, reflecting back and trustingwhat I have been taught in recovery is what helps me the most to nourish my body. Of course, this is still a work in progress for me, and I am far from perfect at it. However, I have learned that small acts in the right direction can add up to big results, and perfection actually isn’t the goal. For me, the goal is to do my best, make the best choices I can for the time and the moment, and take everything one step at a time.
Even though I would consider myself doing well in recovery, these urges still do occur for me. And they can be strong, refusing to go down without a fight. Something that I have learned in ED recovery though, is that there are so many reasons to fuel. Yes, my brain may try to tell me otherwise, but fuelling my body allows me to engage in my life in ways that have proven to be so meaningful to me. For example, it has enabled me to enjoy new foods, embrace cooking, and explore new places to eat with friends and family. I know from experience that it can feel like disordered eating urges are insurmountable. However, recovery does exist and it is possible. It is hard work, yes, and it may be one of the hardest things someone might ever do in their life (it certainly is for me!), but it is so worth it. And, as someone who struggled for years before obtaining professional help, it’s also never too late to start the journey to recovery.
All this is to say, if you are experiencing urges to engage in ED behaviours, or anything else related to disordered eating of any kind, please know that you are not alone. It may feel impossible at times, and it may feel as though the ED behaviours are the better thing to do in the moment, but I am cheering for you to trust that it is worth it. Recovery is possible, and small, positive steps can make a huge difference in your life, as well as the lives of those around you.
If there is one thing that you can take away from this post, it’s this: you’ve got this. You are stronger than your urges. And, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be trusted.
Author wishes to remain anonymous.