Like most others, my eating disorder started with an obsession with the way my body looked. For most of my pre-teen and teen years, I wanted to change my body. It’s not until now, years later, that I am able to recognise that my body shape was not the problem at all. Unfortunately, we live in a society that places A LOT of importance on appearance. Despite what some may think, it’s not at all shallow to have body image issues or an eating disorder, because we have been brought up surrounded by constant messaging that thin = attractive, and thin = healthy.
However, once you are truly able to look within, and realise what you have to offer in this world, you’ll be able to finally understand, and resonate with the saying ‘true beauty comes from within’. To be told I am fun to be around, intelligent, resilient, strong, a good friend, caring, empathetic, passionate – all are things that make me feel truly content and warm inside. Feelings that never arose when I was complimented on my weight loss or body shape.
Over the years, my eating disorder presented itself in many ways, although upon reflection, the most unsettling factor is that a lot of my behaviours were normalised. In this day and age, it’s easy to hide an eating disorder. We are cheering people on for losing weight, no matter the strategies or intent. We applaud those who obsessively exercise. We worship those who cut out food groups. During my suffering, many just saw me as a fit, healthy young girl, with a passion for wellness.
It's especially hard to recover in the current environment. Because you have to unlearn a lot of what you thought to be true. I have come to realise what it truly means to have a healthy relationship with food. No compensation, no portion control, no label reading, no counting calories or macros (carbs, protein, fat), no fasting, no food rules, no exercising to earn food or burn off food, and essentially eating whatever I want, whenever I want. It sounds radical doesn’t it – to eat whatever you want, whenever you want? I used to think that too, but this is the way it’s meant to be!!
My recovery journey hasn’t always been smooth sailing. I’ve had to stay resilient through mini relapses, continue to go to therapy, and I am still working extremely hard to unlearn everything I had come to know about food, exercise and my body throughout my teen years. Despite this, recovering from my ED is the best thing I have ever done. It wasn’t until I began recovering that I started to figure out who I really want to be and what I’m capable of. I went from a world heavily revolving around external beauty, body weight, diets and misery, to a world where infinite possibilities exist, I am content with who I am, and I really don’t care all that much what my body looks like.
You deserve help. Whether that be recovery from your ED, fixing your broken relationship with food after years of dieting, or improving your body image… it’s not normal to be constantly preoccupied by these things. You can reach a place where you look in the mirror and feel at peace. You can eat out with friends and feel nothing but joy. You can honour your hunger and cravings, and never feel guilt. It’s nearly impossible to achieve this state of mind without professional help. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my amazing treatment team. If you haven’t already, this is your sign to call the GP, psych or dietitian and book that appointment. If you need a dietitian or have been looking for the right one.
Helen is a dietitian and a registered counsellor who has extensive training and experience when it comes to eating disorders, disordered eating and body image issues. Helen is passionate, empathetic, open-minded, and knows just how to make you feel safe and supported. Do something for yourself today, take one step towards a happier, healthier and more peaceful life. Make the call, book that appointment, or book with Helen here: https://www.steppingstoneswithhelendean.com/copy-of-about
You can do it.
Molly, a nutritionist and former personal trainer with lived ED experience, shares her thoughts on on her recovery from an eating disorder.