How To Put Your Eating Disorder Recovery First

January 15, 2015 Jessica Hudgens

Around Christmas, I invited you guys to consider whether or not you are putting your recovery from an eating disorder as your first priority. I hope you were able to take some time and really sit with that question and come up with an honest answer for yourself. I have. That’s the thing about putting your eating disorder recovery first – you need to regularly check in with yourself and see if you are still putting your health and recovery first. And if you’re not, you need to figure out how to change that.

Why Do I Have to Put Eating Disorder Recovery First?

First, let’s recap why it is so important for you to put your eating disorder recovery first.

In short, your eating disorder affects every area of your life. Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and other eating disorders will destroy the things most important to you (and in short order), so you need to spend just as much time and energy on your recovery as you did acting on your eating disorder. Which, while it surely felt second nature and automatic (and therefore probably felt like you spent no time at all on it), was a tremendous amount of time.

My basic philosophy for prioritizing your eating disorder recovery can be summed up in three words: Recovery first, always.Making eating disorder recovery your first priority may mean making tough decisions. They are right if you are putting your eating disorder recovery first.

The cornerstones of your eating disorder recovery are nutrition (also known as eating without compensation) and appointments with your treatment team. These things should be scheduled before anything else on your calendar. This might leave you with some uncomfortable choices. For example:

  • Early in my recovery I was looking for a job and was finally offered the exact position I wanted in a preschool. However, the hours would have conflicted with the hours my therapist and dietitian were open. After talking with the school, there wasn’t much they could do in the way of changing the hours, so I had to turn them (and the steady paycheck) down.
  • I have, on more than one occasion, had dinner in my therapist’s office because of the timing of our sessions. It also really forced me to challenge the shame I felt about eating around other people.
  • On the first day of classes last year, I had to approach my professors and tell them I would have to eat meals and snacks in class. Not only that, but if they found this disruptive, I would have to be excused to eat in the hallway. Not eating? Not an option. (Thankfully, all of my professors are great about it and actually encourage it.)

What If I Can’t Put My Eating Disorder Recovery First?

There have certainly been times in my life when it felt like I couldn’t put my eating disorder recovery first. At some times it was because I didn’t have the coping skills or support network to make recovery happen; at others, it was because I didn’t have the mental, emotional, or physical energy required to do so. Regardless of the reason, if you aren’t able to prioritize your recovery (and/or aren’t making good progress) in your current treatment situation, it may be time to change things.

It may mean adding a second (or third) appointment each week with your therapist or seeing your psychiatrist every other week instead of every month. It may mean finding a treatment center near you where you can go a few nights a week for extra meal support and education. Or it may mean taking weeks or months away from home and doing a residential or eating disorder inpatient stay to get your recovery going.

I should note here that there is no shame in choosing any of these options if they are called for. A lot of us as sufferers, especially those of us who have been in recovery for some period of time, feel that increasing the time we are spending in treatment is a step backwards. It's not. It's a wise, recovery-oriented decision that ensures you keep your recovery first.

Putting My Own Eating Disorder Recovery First

That said, I certainly understand the feeling of shame. I am struggling with it some myself now. I had to make the decision to drop a class prior to the start of the semester, knowing that the subject content could be triggering and that I am simply not equipped mentally or emotionally to take an extra class beyond the minimum required. While I am by no means back in my anorexia, I can certainly recognize areas where I have slipped and areas I need to prioritize to be at my prime physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

So for me, putting eating disorder recovery first right now means a lighter workload even if that keeps me in school longer and it feels like a "waste of money."

Recovery first, always.

Jess can also be found on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

APA Reference
Hudgens, J. (2015, January 15). How To Put Your Eating Disorder Recovery First, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 15 from

Author: Jessica Hudgens

Rache Angel
November, 4 2015 at 5:47 pm

I am 40 years old, and for nearly 30 of those years I suffered from bulemia and anoriexia. Even in my heart of hearts I knew the problem with my body was that I was severely UNDERweight because of what I had done, the messages in my memory from my father calling me fat as a child kept fueling the fire. At 85 pounds I thought I didn't deserve to eat, and eventually turned to drugs to keep me emaciated, narrowly escaping death so many times.
BUT, at 40 and at what I know realize is a healthy weight, I have finally cleaned through the wreckage of my damaged mind. I will never be a 21 year old walking a runway, but my curves are sexy and should be celebrated instead of causing me suicidal feelings.
We as women {and men} are WARPED by the images we see in the media, and they are FALSE! I can honestly admit the happiest I have been in a while was to learn that my idol, Kim Kardashian, who is talentless, cant sing or act or dance or entertain, wears SPANKS 7 days a week when she leaves the house {not during pregnancy of course}.
I realized that I am beautiful {I like the term <cougar< these days!} and have parts of my body that other women envy, even at my current sixe of 8 to 10. I now put a lot of time into my presentation because it is healthy for my self esteem, and frankly, both women AND men should, at ANY size! My best friend is the most beautiful woman I know, a size 12, and an absolute knockout. And I can now celebrate sexy curves instead of BONES.
I know all this seems easier said than done {I mean come one it took me thirty years} but i PROMISE you all, it IS attainable. STOP COMPARING yourselves to these imaginary people that are constantly flashed in our faces! Try photoshopping your own pics and youll realize you are NO different, and women at any size should be celebrated for what REALLY matters, your personality, ability to love others and yourselves, your talents {and we ALL have them} your wisdom, sense of humor, and most of all, LOVE! Love for each other and love for yourselves!!!

March, 31 2015 at 12:14 pm

Love this. Something I definitely need to work on!

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