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My relationship with food after an eating disorder….. can you fully recover from an eating disorder?

So last weekend i made a video talking about, my relationship with food after an eating disorder among other things. However i felt i didn’t quite stick to the topic and couldn’t formulate myself the way i wanted. I.e, i should have sat down… thought about what i wanted to say and then filmed. Not just make a spontaneous video without so much planning or thought.

I had thought maybe i should just refilm it – or refilm and add some things to the video. But i thought… why not just write a post, after giving myself some days to think. Sure, not everyone who watches the video will read this post… but i have always thought it would be easier to exprss myself via video, but maybe not…. maybe i am better at expressing myself via writing and blogging.

Copy of Copy of Summer Party YouTube Thumbnail (1)

So let’s talk food and food relationship after an eating disorder?

After having struggled with an eating disorder, i don’t think your relationship with food will ever be the same. You will not go back to the same state of mind you had before you struggled with an eating disorder. I.e if you have spent time counting calories or seeing food just as numbers, that is  not something you just unlearn. HOWEVER, you can learn to not let it bother you or give you anxiety. You can RELEARN to see food as food – as nourishment and enjoyment. But the knowledge of calories and calories in food won’t just go away – or it will atleast take years for it to do so.

Also, you may learn how to actually eat a balanced meal and food intake. Take myself for an example – before i got sick with my eating disorder, i didn’t have the best diet. I was a picky eater and ate bread, chocolate and chicken nuggets. But after my struggles with eating disorders i have learnt what balance is, what a balanced and healthy diet is over a period of time. Because, yes i have days where my diet isn’t so balanced.

Your approach to food changes and it can be in positive or negative ways.

For some people, they never learn to have a healthy or balanced approach to food again, and for others they can learn to have balance with food.

The only way to reach balance is to change your mindset and approach towards food. But so many factors affect eating, mindset and approach to food such as who you  socialize with, what you choose to watch/listen to/follow online etc And even things like stress, medicine, other mental health issues etc can affect your way of eating or approach towards food and eating.

Positives

  • you have had to actively work towards a healthy and balanced relationship with food. Meaning you most often have a healthier approach to food and eating than those who have never suffered with an eating disorder and think that feeling guilty after eating certain foods, or jupming onto every fad diet is normal and/or healthy.
  • Also many “healthy” or “normal” people can micromanage their food such as count calories or point, or weigh their food and count macros. Of course it never goes to extreme lengths or takes over their life completely like it would if it was an eating disorder… but in my opinion it is not a relaxed or balanced approach to food if you are counting and weighing your food. But for some, yes they may need to do that for a short period of their life – just to learn right portion sizes.

 

Negatives – for me personally. And i hope to not get critiqued, but instead to be open and honest. This was the sort of point i wanted to get to in my video but didn’t quite get to it… instead i sort of had this defensive way of talking… not wanting to admit these things. Instead wanting to “Prove i am healthy and eat balanced”, but i think it is just as important to talk about these things. Because even if they don’t make me sick, they are things which have stuck with me from when i was sick .

Example, i hate eating in big groups of people. Sure i do it… but i don’t like it. If i can avoid it i will. Instead i would rather just eat like a bar or something similar if i have to eat in big groups or with lots of people.

I don’t like eating around/with new people… such as first dates. Of course this is something i am getting better and working on. But once again… it is not something i like doing.

I do prefer to eat alone. This is something which i notice i vary alot from others i know… because pretty much everyone i know wants to eat with others. It is a social thing and they don’t like eating on their own. Whereas i would eat alone 100% of the time if i could. And i wonder if this is just because i am very introverated, or if it is something left from my time as sick. I don’t know. (I mean i do eat with others and it is fine, but once again… i would prefer not to. WHen it comes to my family i have no problem and don’t mind eating with or infront of them).

I hate people watching me eat. Infact, i hate it so much that i can stop eating because i feel so awkward. However.. i don’t mind being the only person eating. Example if i am with my family and i am hungry, then i will eat even if they aren’t eating. And the same goes with my close friends…. ex. if i am hungry for lunch before or after them, then i will just eat when i am hungry even if they aren’t eating then.

 

I do however truly believe that you can fully recover from an eating disorder. Some people say you can’t and that you will always be sick – just that you control it. And i understand that, that was how i felt when i was still half recovered or a “functional sufferere”. I thought… “this is it… i will be able to eat, but still feel guilt sometimes, still control food, still feel anxious towards some foods, still restrict and binge…. but i will be able to go to school, live life, eat somewhat normally and function.”

But i can tell you… you can get free of those things. However it does take time and changes need to be made. I didn’t just wake up one day free and recovered, it was a slow process and i didn’t even notice that all the small choices and changes added up. Finding YOUR balance takes time… but please don’t settle for half recovered.

 

Note* Even if i say i dislike eating in big groups of people or eating infront/with strangers, it doesn’t mean i don’t do it. And it doesn’t give me anxiety… it’s just that if i could choose to not do it, i wouldn’t do it. For as long as i can remember i.e the past 10´years i have disliked eating in big groups of people and felt self conscious eating infront of others. However it is no longer something that gives me anxiety or something i completely avoid doing, but it was something i had thought about and wanted to share.

 

^the meals i ate during my half recovery.. i.e i ate, but sure wasn’t alot or balanced.

These were just some things i wanted to mention and share – and i didn’t quite get it across in my video.

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “My relationship with food after an eating disorder….. can you fully recover from an eating disorder?”

  1. I just want to say that it’s totally possible to have the same relationship to food that you had before you got sick!! If you don’t – then you’re quite not there yet..! Still in quasi recovery and having a hard time letting go of the last bit of control I suppose? Why I write this is because I was in the same stage of recovery as you and I wasn’t 100 % sure that I was completely recovered and it turned out I wasn’t. I ate without guilt but I still always had some type of control, and eating disorders are all about having control, even if it’s totally false. Now, I honestly don’t remember the number of calories in different foods even if I would try, and I definitely don’t care about it. I don’t isolate myself and I love eating with others. Before I also wanted to eat alone all the time so that I could prepare every meal alone to have it “my way” and still food meant so much to me and had power of my life. Today it’s just part of living and more like a thing I just have to get done, and it’s boring to eat alone because then it’s just me and the food. I guess when I still had my ED I was more interested by the food than people around me, and today it’s the other way around. Life is not about food, its so much more!

    I also hid behind “being introverted” so that I could avoid social situations, but that wasn’t the true me. Sure, I was a bit introverted but not THAT introverted. It was still my eating disorder that didn’t want anyone from outside to “disturb” my life so that I would lose control. What helped me was to spend long periods of time with 100 % healthy people who wasn’t into fitness/diets/nutrition or any of those things and STOP spending so much time on my own. When I stopped being alone, I understood what a bubble I had lived in. It was not healthy. Spending time with others made me feel like my normal self again, and started to think about other things than food and health related thoughts. Stopped using social media and lived more in “the real life” hanging out with friends and family! Health is not just about what you eat. It’s about having relationships, hobbies and everything else in life!

    And those “half recovery” pictures, I’d say they’re pretty much 100 % eating disorder xD

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    1. I would absolutely love to hear more about how you reached that point Sophie. What you describe before (as hale-recovered) is definitely me now and I long to be like you describe – as living without all the controls and numbers. (Izzy, yours was a really interesting post too – a topic lots and lots of ED sufferers will relate to!)

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      1. I’m glad I can help in some way! For me, it was all about letting go of control and habits and create new, healthier habits. I thought a lot about how my life was like before my ED and how my relationship with food was like. I challenged myself to do things that still were uncomfortable for me to learn that nothing bad was going to happen, it was all in my mind. If I had the slightest thought that eating this or that was “bad” or causing me anxiety, I had to do it to overcome the fear. Always think opposite actions than the ED voice tells you. If your ED tells you “no, you can’t eat bread tonight because you had it in the morning” or whatever ED thoughts you have, you have to do the EXACT opposite to show yourself that it is totally fine, it was just a fear in your head but not in reality. For so many years you have learned your brain that food is bad and you have set up a lot of “safety routines” that you have to do to have control in your life but those are all fake and made up!! It’s not reality! You have to rewire your brain and prove that nothing bad is going to happen by eating and listen to your body, because your body knows best what it wants and it will all balance out. Remember your relationship to food before your ED. Did you have anxiety for eating? Did you have rules about the food? Did you spend your whole day thinking about health? No, you didn’t. And that’s the stage you want to reach again. It’s important to have the right role models as well. Don’t spend too much time on social media, and be very mindful about which people you follow. If you follow people who have recovered from EDs then be sure that they actually are fully recovered. Unfortunately there are so many accounts where people had an ED and now claim themselves to be recovered but all their lives are about health, fitness, clean eating, food etc. They are still kind of obsessed but in a different way.

        Also, I found that spending all those thoughts on food and numbers were just a total waste of time. It didn’t lead me anywhere at all and my life was on hold. While my friends were getting boyfriends, family, houses, new jobs and exciting things in life, I sat there worrying about what I was going to have for dinner. I mean THAT IS NO LIFE TO LIVE! I had to break my habits and go outside of my comfort zone over and over again, and I still do up to this day (though it’s not ED related but with other things in life). I’ve grown SO much as a person thanks to that. Of course it is scary in the beginning, but the outcome is always a million times worth it. Im absolutely 100 % sure that you can do the same. Challenge yourself and your ED. Be proud of YOU when you go against your illness. Realize that you are stronger than your ED. Fight it. Day in and day out until it loses all it’s power over you. Because you are worthy living a life without it, and you will find your true self. Think of a life where you make decisions based on what YOU actually want, without the ED voice trying to tell you other. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Well I can tell you it really is 🙂 You will never regret recovery, remember that when its tough. And also remember it will be and SHOULD be tough to fight your ED. Otherwise your not doing it right. Before your ED you didn’t have to fight yourself, and that is the goal with recovery. When your recovered, there are no more bad thoughts left to fight, because you have conquered them all. And if a thought comes up again, you fight it so it loses its power. You show yourself it is not real. You can do it!! You definitely can. All my support and love to you fighters, you will reach recovery.

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    2. I don’t really feel like defending myself or arguing online, but your comment does feel a little accusatory which i don’t like. I think you shared great tips, which is exactly what i tell others – that to fully recover it is good to focus less on food and focus more on life. Food and eating should just be part of that. But also to do the opposite of what your ED says.e.. that’s the only way to truly recover, to face those fears no matter how tough it may be.

      I mostly wanted to share my thoughts, because it was something i had been thinking about, and like i mentioned in my video and in my post… your eating can change for the positive or the negative. But of course, you shouldn’t settle for half recovery and think, “i can eat…. and most of the time without anxiety, this as good as it will get”, because that is definitely not full recovery. However, as i got sick around the age of 12/13 and was of course very young and in a very different life situation, i don’t know how my eating or realtionship with food would be if i never got sick. Of course, i was always an extremely picky eater and did have problemed with food even if i just ate… it was only specific foods i ate. So i am glad that i am no longer a picky eater and try new foods and eat whatever i want.

      It is also important to remember that i don’t share everything in my life on here. I meet friends, go on dates, go to social events without sharing any of it online. So yes i am introverted, but i go out and socialize anyway. So don’t think you know me or my life by only what i share online.

      I don’t feel like arguing online, but i do respect your comments and think you wrote some great things… but i just don’t like that there seemed to be some accusation or hint that i was still sick or in half recovery.

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      1. Oh no!! I don’t talk about you at all in my text! My answers were pointed to “M” and “Kate”, but mostly just out of my own experiences and history of ED and also generalized for many suffering from it. Sorry if it came off as offending in any way, it was not the purpose at all. I just wanted to share my experiences and help others if they feel the same way as I did.. English is not my mother language so maybe I can’t really express myself correctly all the time. When I write “you” I mean a person in general, not actually YOU. Maybe that came off wrong? 🙂

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  2. I love your distinction between functional sufferer and recovered! It makes me feel hopeful that things are amazing now compared to before, but they are going to get even better! And that’s exciting. It also gives me a reason to keep fighting and not to settle in this semi comfortable stage.

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