Facing Life After an Eating Disorder: Addressing the Challenges

woman eating very little

Diet fads, celebrity “fitspiration,” and supermodels all over social media have driven countless people insecure about their bodies. As such, cases of eating disorders rose, and the number of people unhappy about their bodies isn’t shrinking.

Aside from anorexia, bulimia is also rampant among Americans, especially in women. According to statistics, the lifetime prevalence of bulimia in the U.S. is 1.5% for women and 0.5% in men. The people most affected by it are adolescents and young adults, but it has also been found that children as young as six can be diagnosed with it as well.

While we’re all wondering what it’s like to live with an eating disorder, focusing on the positive may be more helpful. Hence, we’ll look at the stories of people who have completed their bulimia recovery plan or that of any other eating disorder, and see the challenges that came with it.

Full Recovery is Possible

Sufferers of eating disorders may believe that they’ll always eat differently from others. This belief could stem from the study that nearly 50% of sufferers don’t recover fully. Still, it indicates that the other half do recover fully, so there’s no reason to lose hope.

But everyone with an eating disorder recovers differently. Some people manifest it through their changed eating patterns, while others may focus on the emotional aspects. So don’t worry if your recovery journey isn’t like the others. Even the definition of “recovery” is different for patients.

Don’t expect perfection, as well. Eating disorders can be prone to relapse, so you’ll likely experience slips while trying to get back into a regular eating pattern.

Seek Support

Dealing with and recovering from an illness take an emotional toll on us. The distress can cause us to push away our supportive loved ones. But even if it’s difficult, we have to let them in. Don’t insist that you can recover on your own. If you can’t bear to be with people, at least try to read self-help books and go to therapy once you’re ready.

Take inspiration from Alicia’s story. The 24-year-old told SELF that she sought out support from online peer groups and an independent psychologist. Though she still hears the voices of her eating disorder, her voice is louder now.

healthy salad

Focus on the Structure and Timing of Eating

As you begin treatment, focus on the structure and timing of your meals rather than the food you’re eating. You’re still at a stage where you’re highly sensitive about what you should eat, so let those issues be addressed only when you’re ready.

You don’t need to plan your meal times excessively to recover. You should know when and what your next meal will be. Relying on meal delivery services can help since they save you time on planning and preparing.

Practice self-monitoring, and note all episodes of bingeing, purging, and other behaviors related to eating disorders. But don’t be hard on yourself every time you experience an episode. As pointed out above, slips are normal. They don’t mean that recovery is impossible.

Raquel, a 28-year-old woman who once had an eating disorder, still finds herself occasionally purging eight years after her therapy. But to get past it, she uses self-soothing practices like dancing, singing, and bonding with her loved ones. Though she doesn’t consider herself “recovered,” she still chose to live a healthy and joyous life.

Don’t Lose Hope

Strive to stay positive and dwell on the encouraging words you receive. According to Lakesha, a 27-year-old who once suffered an eating disorder along with PTSD, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder, recovery is a battle. Though you may not be 100% cured, you can still become stronger than your condition. Remember that you are worth the cost of your treatment and that you are loved and perfect just the way you are.

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