The Importance of Surrender in Eating Disorder Recovery

February 7, 2019 Guest Author

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I learned, the hard way, about surrender in eating disorder recovery.

I started my first diet at age 12, and as a result, struggled for years with binging, restricting, and compulsive exercise. Choosing to go on a diet, set me on a dangerous path of disordered eating that continued into my 20s.

When I started treatment at the age of 23, my eating disorder hadn’t yet gotten to a point where it was life-threatening, but it was life-destroying. I am grateful that I have now experienced complete freedom from my eating disorder for 10 years. Most days my struggle feels like a distant memory or another lifetime. And part of that success has been thanks to surrendering in eating disorder recovery.

Looking Back Before Surrendering in Eating Disorder Recovery

I recently had dinner with a college friend that inspired me to re-read some of my old journals. As I thumbed through the pages from freshman year, I was deeply saddened by the words I had penned. My consuming thoughts around my weight and food coupled with my shaky self-image kept a constant cloud over my life. I couldn’t grab lunch with a friend without being completely distracted by her food choices or mine. I couldn’t eat a piece of birthday cake without counting calories and planning for how I’d punish myself later. I couldn’t believe that my self-worth was not determined by the number that showed up every morning on my bathroom scale. My roots were sunk into the false security of control and the pursuit of the cultural ideal of thinness.

It was all I thought I had to help me feel safe. But in reality, it made me unwell.

How I Learned About Surrendering in Eating Disorder Recovery

My initial step toward recovery was joining an incredible course called New ID at a local church. The first night, I walked into a beautiful warehouse with dim lights and oversized sofas and about a dozen other women perched upon them. Halfway through the teaching, the leader told us that recovery was like signing a contract, without getting to negotiate the terms. We had to be willing to surrender in eating disorder recovery.

That sounded impossible. Being able to control my appearance and food was the one thing I had to cling to for safety. Could I possibly surrender those things and stay safe? What if I didn’t like the result? What would I eat? How much would I weigh? It seemed too risky.

Thankfully, I was desperate enough to be well that I decided to take three critical steps toward recovery: 

  1. I found my experts. I started working with a gifted psychologist and dietitian who gave me tools and insight to navigate my eating disorder recovery journey and the surrender I needed.
  2. I involved my community. I learned how to reach out to my family and friends in a helpful and healthy way to ask for the support I needed so I didn’t feel alone.
  3. I developed my faith. I found immense comfort in finding hope in something outside of my myself and believing that God cared for me and had a plan amidst my suffering was pivotal in my eating disorder recovery.

With the help of my experts, community, and faith, I eventually realized the only way I could truly find healing and safety was to surrender in eating disorder recovery even though I was terrified. So I did, and my life has been richer, fuller and brighter ever since.

This article was written by:

Christie Dondero Bettwy serves as Executive Director for Rock Recovery, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that helps people overcome disordered eating and body image issues by removing barriers of stigma, cost and access to care. Having gone through recovery from an eating disorder herself, Christie understands the depth of emotional, physical and spiritual support needed to recover and is passionate about spreading the message that complete freedom from disordered eating is possible. Find Christie on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

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APA Reference
Author, G. (2019, February 7). The Importance of Surrender in Eating Disorder Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 19 from

Author: Guest Author

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