Protecting your recovery can be like developing a super power. It’s also incredibly important when we are surrounded by potential triggers every where.
If we are in recovery from an eating disorder, we need to learn to reject diet culture, which is really difficult when it infiltrates every part of our society.
I recently came across a blog, where the author was promoting a weight loss regimen, whilst sharing their own ED Recovery.
That tells me two things, firstly it is not something helpful to my recovery, secondly the writer very likely still holds a lot of internalised implicit biases around weight and fear of weight gain and unlikely recovered.
The intention of this post is to highlight the importance of being aware of the content you chose to follow and your motives behind it.
People have the right to write/ talk about whatever they like. However, it can be really damaging to a person who is trying to heal from an eating disorder to follow accounts like that. You have a choice regarding the content you chose to follow or not.
My thoughts are and they may be unpopular, YOU CANNOT recover from a restrictive eating disorder whilst still actively attempting to pursue a smaller body. Believe me you cannot. It took me long enough to come to terms with this. You might get the idea of “I could go on x diet, lose this much and I would be ok”. Take it from me you will not. It is a relapse waiting to happen. That is how my last real relapse happened. All it really tells you, if you get those thoughts there’s still work to be done on neural re-wiring. It gets easier. I get these thought from time to time, “If I could just lose X amount I will be happy” this is my eating disorder voice and one that I know cannot be trusted. A size, or shape will never change how I value myself, I am so much more than a measurement but this is not what my eating disorder believes, it will make me buy into the notion that my worth is solely based on a number. This is not happiness.
I cannot diet ever. ever. ever. Choosing to go on a diet when you have a history of an eating disorder is like saying a person who has recovered from substance or alcohol abuse can have the occasional drink. You would not say this. Dieting is our drug. We cannot safely dabble.
In recovery the focus should be on challenging our fear of weight gain, body image, learning about the health at every size movement. Dieting becomes less appealing. I’m not saying you won’t get those thoughts. However your brain will learn that you don’t place all of your value on a number and it’s not something we’re interested in. If the concept of Health at Every Size (HAES) is new to you, I encourage you to explore some of the resources I’ve shared at the bottom. However, a very brief summary of HAES; the basic premise supports people in implementing health practices for the purpose of overall well being rather than the focus on weight control. There are some key values to HAES, it encourages people to eat intuitively, accepting of body diversity shape and sizes and that health is about much more than weight. This is a very simplified explanation.
I do not believe a person can endorse weight loss and be fully recovered themselves, because the aim of eating disorder recovery is to unlearn your fear of weight gain, to rewire implicit fat bias/ fat phobia. Therefore by promoting weight-loss on an eating disorder recovery site is an oxymoron. It does not have a place in recovery. I personally do not follow accounts whereby the premise is promoting weight loss or any form of diet culture based content.
If you are trying to recover from dieting, disordered eating or an eating disorder it is your responsibility to not allow this to trigger you. Therefore avoiding unhelpful information such as “losing weight” in eating disorder recovery might be the easiest way.
My last real relapse came from thinking “I can safely diet”
How I deal with these thoughts now; I challenge myself with the following questions:
Why do you want to diet, what are you actually trying to do? What are you lacking in an area. (It’s usually self care and self compassion for me).
Why do you feel the need to change your body- can you learn to accept your body at any shape size and understand a number on the scale has no bearing to who you are as a person or your health?
But, I find sites like this are dangerous in the ED recovery community, they do not realise the potential harm they could have. This particular individual has a large following. Many of the followers suffer with binge eating and the blog is the last thing a person experiencing such should be taking notes from. Dieting no matter how you look at it is restriction. Restriction is no friend to bingeing in fact restriction causes bingeing.
I recently shared this checklist on my social media- it serves as a way to protect myself and maintain healthy boundaries.
- Health at every size: NEDA: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/sites/default/files/ResourceHandouts/WhatisHealthAtEverySize.pdf
- The amazing works of Lindo bacon: https://lindobacon.com/HAESbook/pdf_files/HAES_Introduction.pdf