As I entered recovery, I’ve learned many things through the years. I truly can say recovery found me, when I thought it never would. I am learning to eat in a healthy and happy way, but learning certain tips took quite a while!!! And by “quite a while” I mean I’m still learning some of them!!! So, there are many things I’m learning as I move through recovery, but here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way!
1. Be Patient
The most important thing about recovering from an eating disorder is to learn patience. [I say this like I have it… trust me, I’ve not mastered this yet!!!] Patience is the hardest thing if your personality is a “get it done” type. Let’s be honest, most people who develop eating disorders have those personalities that may not mesh well with patience… we are usually ones who like to get things done fast and well.
On this journey, you’re probably going to have days where you want to go back to your old habits. So stay patient! Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and if you backslide, be patient with yourself. Recovery is a process, and that’s okay. I’m one who likes to “rush” things …. to sprint to the finish… but I’ve learned through therapy that anything lasting does not happen fast!
2. Eat Balanced
The best thing for a person to do recovering from an eating disorder to do is to eat balanced. It’s not about eating perfect, and it’s also not about eating unhealthy. It’s about embracing balance in your diet, and being okay with eating new things, and more some days than others. I’m finding that eating balanced is not the same for every person, or every day. There is a place for the “unhealthy” foods, and a place for the “healthy” foods. Eating balanced means not tipping to one side more than the other…. eating the french fry when you want it, having an extra cookie if it’s good, eating the pretzel bites for dinner because they are good and they are there. Having balance is not forgetting what your body needs but also giving it what it wants. But also knowing that what your body needs is not just counted in calories.
In order to recover, you must really listen to your body. What foods agree with it, which ones don’t, and listening to your cravings and sense of fullness. Your body will tell you what it likes, what satisfies it, and what makes it happy. This is not an easy task. Sometimes we’ve altered it so much that it really takes work and time to listen to it. Until you’re able to follow what your body is really saying, follow the advice of the professionals and it really does fall into place.
Eating disorders make us disengage from our bodies. They go numb and we don’t notice what it is doing or what it needs. I’ve found in recovery that I have to listen to my body. I can feel what happens when I don’t eat enough, and also when it needs a break. Now that I’m actually “in tune” with my body, I can tell when I’ve worked out too much, or when I need to stop and/or eat. It’s quite an amazing thing. Listen to your body, and you’ll be amazed at what it tells you.
Your body is healing in so many ways during recovery, so please listen to it! It needs rest much more now than ever. You might not see what’s going on inside your body, but your hormones, stress levels, and your entire body needs rest to repair, recuperate, and heal.
I’ve learned that my body takes A LOT LONGER than most to recuperate and heal. I recently had hip surgery and what should have taken a normal person 8 weeks to get back to running, I’m sitting at 12 weeks post-surgery and still not close to running. This is something that I’m not happy about, but I have to (and will) respect it. And… let’s be honest… recovery is exhausting…
5. Exercise with Moderation
I advocate exercising for people recovering from an eating disorder – when it’s relevant. Sometimes we are on weight gain and it’s not a good idea, but once we are learning balance, it’s something that can be good. First, it helps with stress, and gives someone confidence, and it’s a healthy lifestyle tip anyway!
This ties back to #3 – LISTEN. If you need a rest day, take it. If you have plenty of energy, try something more. Moderate your exercise and be okay with your body recovering. As I’ve been traveling through recovery, I’m finding that my body is going to stages of accepting and denying exercise. It’s important to keep it balanced.
7. Resist Temptation
Resist temptations that will find you, no matter how hard it is. There will always be a marketing ad that might trigger your disorder, a food advertisement, a diet advertisement, or a person that you wish you looked like. I’ve even seen blogs online that were hard for me at first. Luckily, I’m now immune to this, and know that I’ll fight the temptations for a long while. I always remember how much happier I am now that I’m in recovery, and I wouldn’t go back for anything!
It’s important to note that sometimes temptation is not just a food, magazine or blog… it is sometimes a person or a toxic relationship. It’s important to resist being attached to those who are very sick when you are fighting to move forward. Speaking from experience… this will hold you back and keep you down!
8. Allow Yourself to Trust
Trust is a hard thing to give. A lot of people in recovery have a hard time trusting because it may have been broken by somebody or something at some point in their life. Allow yourself to trust the people you are working with. Refusing to trust will only keep you in the terrible place you are. Allowing yourself to trust could give you the chance to have something amazing. It’s a hard leap to take, but it is definitely worth it!! The professionals are there to help you… you can trust them.