How did i go from barely being able to eat an apple to now being able to eat heaps of delicious food and not have the slightest bit of anxiety?
Well i can tell you it wasn’t an easy journey and didn’t happen overnight.
It definitely feels like a different person when i think back on the time i struggled with anorexia, and if i am honest i guess it wasn’t really me. I lost myself when i was sick.
Recovery was by no means easy, and learning to see food as something good and not something terrifying was a long journey. But it was worth it. To be free from eating disorders and not have food, weight or calories control me. To not be controlled by anxiety or fear.
So how did i go from being terrified of food and feeling guilty whenver i ate, to now being able to eat freely?
It meant finding peace with food, and also… beginning to eat.
Even if it just meant taking one bite of my fear food, it was one step closer to recovery. It meant choosing to eat a snack even when i wasn’t hungry, and when i didn’t want it or my eating disorder would tell me i hadn’t deserved it. I still had to eat.
It meant following my meal plan and knowing that it would help me, even if it didn’t feel like it when i was eating.
Finding food freedom – and full recovery meant doing the opposite of what my eating disorder told me to do. When my eating disorder told me to eat the plain yoghurt because it had the least calories, i had to eat the vanilla flavoured one instead… which was also the yoghurt i liked the best.
Eating disorder recovery meant packing snacks with me and eating my snacks even when others weren’t eating. It also meant, being able to compromise and eat foods that weren’t on my meal plan because that was the only option.
Finding balance with food and freedom from food anxiety meant going out to eat and ordering what i was actually craving, not what was the least calories. It meant allowing others to cook food for me and not having to control or watch when they cooked… instead eating whatever was served.
Finding balance with food meant beginning to trust my bodies signals…. if i wanted an extra snack or larger portion or dessert after lunch, then that was what i ate. Learning to trust my body and remind myself that it was ok to have days where i ate more and days where i ate less.
Recovering from my eating disorder meant facing my fear foods over and over and over… until they no longer gave me anxiety. At first it was just a bite, then next time i could take two bites, and eventually i could eat the whole thing and not feel guilty or feel the need to compensate.
Recovering from my eating disorder meant not caring about the number on the scale and focusing less on my body image and more on life. Changing my focus from appearance and weight, to wanting to be healthy and have energy to live life. Focusing on fuelling and nourishing my body so that i could live life… not just be skinny and tired all the time.
Finding food balance meant being honest to myself about what foods i liked and which ones i didn’t. Honest about which foods i said i didn’t like just because i was scared of their calorie or macronutrient content. It meant retesting all types of foods and being truly honest about which ones i liked and didn’t.
Finding food balance meant not being ashamed for being hungry or eating. It meant being able to go to the store and buy the food i wanted to eat, not just the lowest calorie food or not buying the food i wanted because i was worried what the cashier would think. It meant, eating the portion sizes i wanted and not the small portions because of fear of being judged.
Finding balance with food and recovery meant nourishing my body and mind, not restricting and depriving myself.
Finding food balance meant beginning to enjoy food again, using salt and oil and seasoning. Trying new and different foods, enjoying to cook and bake for the right reasons.
There is no secret pill towards recovery or finding freedom with food and being free from guilt around food. It is small choices and changes which add up over time.
Each time you defy your eating disorder is one day closer to freedom. You may not even notice yourself getting better, but one day you will be able to spontaneously go out to eat pizza with friends and suddenly realise that you didn’t worry about the calories, or worry about compensating and you had no anxiety at all. And you will realise how GOOD it feels and that this is part of recovery and freedom. And over time… you won’t even remember how it feels to be anxious around food, because food and eating will just be part of your life, not your whole life.
Recovery takes time, it is tough and it DOES require support and help. However, recovery comes from YOU. You have to be honest to yourself about why you do what you do, why you eat the way you do, and honest about what needs to change. Only you know the truth.
Recovery is possible, and you won’t regret it – not if you are fully recovered anyway. If you regret recovery… chances are you were never fully recovered.