Surviving ED

Every day, I make small choices which greatly impact the maintenance of my bulimia recovery. One of these choices starts with thinking ahead in the morning on the meals I plan to have throughout the day; while another is being mindful of the inner dialogue I have about my self-image and how it relates to my eating habits.
Happy Halloween, y'all! While I always greatly enjoy seeing what the kids in the neighborhood dress up as, there is one thing I am less excited to see in disguise: my eating disorder. Symptom switching is your eating disorder's way of sneaking back into your routine. In the past 14 years, one thing I have learned is this: the eating disorder never stays the same.
When I reflect on the years I struggled through my eating disorder; bulimia, and its recovery, it reminds me of how resilient human beings can be. In extreme times, whether tough or the opposite, I sometimes find myself appreciating  my own inherent resolve not to self-harm.
In a lot of ways, "eating disorder recovery" is a sort of vague, amorphous thing.  How many times have you (or your loved one) said, "I just want to be recovered already!" Or is that just me? In one of my journals from early recovery I wrote, "I want a magic pill, a prayer, a chant -- something I can say or do and wake up the next morning and be normal."
I suffered from a mental illness for many years and at the time, felt powerless against it. My eating disorder, bulimia consumed every aspect of my life. Now 5 years into the recovery process, I stay recovered by maintaining a level of self-care that goes way beyond simply avoiding triggers and practicing coping skills. Without self-care, my recovery would be compromised.
Having a list (or shoebox) full of coping skills is awesome -- if it's nearby when an urge strikes. So what happens when you're driving home after work? Or hanging out at the mall killing time? Those coping skills you have on your shelf at home aren't going to do you any good -- which is why you have to have go-to coping skills for on-the-go, too.
I’m a foodie! I love food and I love cookbooks. I love my kitchen. Also, preparing food for the people I love knows no bounds! Let's pause for a second....I've also recovered from bulimia.
If this is your first time attempting recovery from your eating disorder, a lot of what an eating disorder dietitian will help you with is understanding why your body needs to be fed what it does. For a while now, your mind has convinced you that your body does or doesn't need that or fats are the devil or white bread makes you fat or whatever. None of it's true. Food is just fuel. And every macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) has a very specific purpose in your body -- you need all of them every day in order to maintain a healthy, functioning body and brain. The dietition you see in eating disorder recovery is an important person on your treatment team.
A few people have recently asked me how I deal with negative talk about body image when comments are made around me.  While the following five tips are my ways of coping, I think they are universal enough to perhaps help you, too, when you find yourself in these types of situations:
So, you've made the decision to recover from your eating disorder -- awesome!  Now what?  Everything is puppies and rainbows and unicorns and all you have to do is eat, right? Well, yes, you have to eat (sorry, no way around that one!), but it's not really about what you're doing necessarily - but about what you're NOT doing. You're not restricting, you're not overexercising, you're not bingeing, you're not purging, you're not taking x, y, and z pills. And you are going to want to do all of those things (and more) during the course of your eating disorder recovery.