Letting Things Go During Eating Disorder Recovery

July 5, 2010 Laura Collins

When your son or daughter has been diagnosed with anorexia or bulimia or another eating disorder your job description gets a lot longer: now you are a nurse, a researcher, a record-keeper, a team leader, a cheerleader, the chauffeur, and the sounding board for an illness your child probably doesn't believe exists. You are in charge of food, activities, and treatment prescriptions and all while you are on a steep learning curve you hadn't expected. (Read: Finding An Eating Disorder Treatment Specialist) This is a good time to "let things go."


How many "shoulds" are you carrying around?

Life is filled with "shoulds," isn't it? We should keep the house clean and be on time for meetings and make sure to call Aunt Freda back. We shouldn't let the other kids miss their activities and we shouldn't hurt our friends' feelings by missing their parties. The to-do list didn't have a lot of flexibility before the eating disorder arrived and adding all these other things doesn't change this, right?

I say: re-think the to-do list. Pretend the eating disorder is really a burn injury, or a debilitating fall. If you question that, ask yourself why? Eating disorders disable, maim, and kill (Anorexia and Death). This diagnosis deserves every bit of attention and focus.

I had to learn to let things go. The only "should" during a crisis is what has to be done.

How to let go of unnecessary things during your child's eating disorder recovery process

  • Turn over anything YOU don't need to be doing. The church newsletter, neighborhood book club hosting, annual Halloween party, holiday cards... If you would set it aside in an emergency, this IS the emergency.
  • Clean house? Not necessary. Landscaped yard? Nope. Holiday decorations? Energy spent on one thing can't be used on another. Prioritize, don't just try to fit it all in.
  • Get help. Ask for it, borrow it, buy it. Lawn mowing, dry cleaning pickup, grocery delivery.
  • Delegate. There are people in your life waiting for an opportunity to help but they need specific chores.
  • Let go of the life you thought you were leading. It's not there any more, and that is okay. You have a new life awaiting you, as does your child, and it may very well be better, but you have to let go of the one you were aiming at.
  • Asking for help is generous, not selfish. Generous to your child who needs you and your extended family that needs you and needs you to be sane.
  • Asking for help is one of the best lessons we can give our kids. Let go of having to be the giving one - give and take is what being human is about.
  • Lose the ego, the shyness, the low-self esteem, and the superhero complex. Everyone needs help, and everyone at some time ends up living a life they hadn't thought of.
  • Plan for breakdown. Your stamina and resolve will falter over time, so even as you plan for ways to stay strong also plan to fall apart. Have a person to call, a place to cry. Give yourself permission to do this.
  • Let go of the eating disorder a few times a day. Put it on your agenda to think of other things.
  • Let go of grimness. Allow occasional laughter and irony and Black Humor to make an appearance. Let others laugh, too - it isn't an insult.
  • Give up on perfection. It's an unrealistic, sterile, and futile goal.

APA Reference
Collins, L. (2010, July 5). Letting Things Go During Eating Disorder Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Author: Laura Collins

July, 6 2010 at 2:29 am

Very good advice, Laura, all of it.

July, 5 2010 at 1:47 pm

i agree that "During Eating Disorder of child life is filled with “shoulds."
thanx for this informative blog, it would be helpful for all mothers.:)

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