What Can I Do Without an Eating Disorder?

For most of my life, I was plagued by the question, "What will I do without an eating disorder?" It felt unattainable even to imagine an alternate reality in which those obsessions with food, exercise, or body image weren't constantly humming at the forefront of my brain. Each waking moment was a conquest to burn calories—or simply avoid them altogether. At the time, it seemed euphoric, but now I can see just how bleak of an existence I forced myself to live. So these days, I ask another question: "What can I do without an eating disorder?"

Reframing 'What Can I Do Without an Eating Disorder?'

"What will I do?" is a fear-based question. It makes the assumption that my core human identity revolves around an eating disorder and that I will cease to matter in its absence. I used to believe this legitimately. I built my definition of success and self-worth on how staunchly I maintained the behaviors that were killing me. I ruled this microcosm with an iron fist of control and containment—or maybe it ruled me. Either way, I would not allow myself to entertain the notion that life could be meant for something more. Talk about a hopeless situation.

But this is what I love about eating disorder recovery: It's an invitation to rewrite the script I used to follow and reframe the question I used to agonize over. What can I do without an eating disorder? That line of inquiry is more expansive. It creates room for both possibility and curiosity to flourish. It asks me to dream of a future in which the number on a scale or the metrics on a fitness tracker cannot dictate my value. Most of all, it has me wondering, "What sort of impact or meaning could I tap into if my time wasn't consumed with these eating disorder behaviors?"

There's so much to think about, to learn, to discover, to experiment with, to be interested in.

I Want to Focus on What I Can Do Without an Eating Disorder

I think fear is the enemy of healing. Therefore, I no longer want to fixate on the question, "What will I do without an eating disorder?" I am worth more than the calories I burn, the food I consume, the miles I run, or the pounds I weigh. I have more to offer this world than how successful I am at abusing myself. I want to read books, write poetry, or create artwork instead of exercising for hours on end. I want to volunteer time and energy to causes I feel passionate about instead of wasting those resources on compulsive eating disorder rituals.

I want to bask in the colors of a sunset and savor the taste of nourishment on my lips. I want to invest in relationships that matter so much more than a slew of unhealthy habits. I want to be curious, present, and fully alive. So I'll continue asking, "What can I do without an eating disorder?" If it takes me a lifetime to find the answer—well, mission accepted. Recovery has no endpoint. 

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2023, May 11). What Can I Do Without an Eating Disorder?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

Connect with Mary-Elizabeth on Facebook, Instagram and her personal blog.

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